TEAM JFR STARTS TOYOTA NATIONALS FROM TOP OF HALF OF FIELD
LAS VEGAS – The entire John Force Racing team will have lane choice in the first round of eliminations at the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. All four drivers made solid runs on the final day of qualifying and they will all start from the top half of their respective fields. Team leader John Force will start from the No. 3 position followed by Robert Hight No. 5 and Courtney Force No. 8. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster will start from the No. 7 spot.
The PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car and John Force picked up two more qualifying bonus points and the three-time Toyota Nationals winner will start from the No. 3 qualified position. This is the four year in a row Force has started from the top half of the field at the penultimate race of the NHRA season. In two of the past three year Force has raced to the final round and in 2013 he picked up the win and his unprecedented 16th Mello Yello Funny Car championship.
“I feel really good. If you look at us at Dallas and Robert (Hight) ran a 3.93 in qualifying and we don’t have the consistency they have got in looking at the Schumacher team. They have a four car team and we have a three car team so they got more shots. But we are right there in the game. We ran a 3.87 last night and 3.88 today. So we are turning the corner, and training these people and that is what we are trying to do,” explained Force. “We are getting back in good financial shape so I can’t cry about that any more. But I am excited about the dragster because it has a shot at the title. I never quit thinking championships and neither has Robert (Hight) or Courtney (Force). Right now we are pretty excited and my energy was up pretty much all day. I am working on some things like all the drivers do. I had Ron Armstrong in here looking at the way we eat, the way we sleep and the way we react inside the car.”
“I had my energy up all day but I think that is because Mark Kent (Director of Chevrolet Racing) beat me up in the negotiations,” joked Force. “I said, ‘Okay Mark, I give up, you won.’ Love the guy and he does a great job for Chevrolet but also does a great job to keep us in business. I really look forward to a big future with Chevrolet.”
Today in the final session Force crossed the finish line with an impressive 3.885 second run at 328.54 mph. That was the second quickest run of the session and Force will hold onto his track speed record of 331.94 mph which he set last night. Force will face John Bojec in the first round and this will be the first meeting between these two drivers. Bojec becomes Force’s 139th different opponent and extends and amazing streak for Force who has raced at least one new driver every year of his career starting in 1978
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro team will be looking for a repeat performance of last season when they won the Toyota Nationals. As the No. 5 qualifier Hight will face Cruz Pedregon and the 2009 Funny Car champion knows he will have his hands full against the former world champion.
On his final qualifying run Hight took the tree and just before half-track his Auto Club Camaro overpowered the track. The conditions were as good as any of the teams had seen all season so there was no disadvantage to being aggressive with the tune up.
“You know we were pushing pretty hard that run and we felt like we could have been number one qualifier real easy last night. We were just having trouble keeping the blower belt on the thing. We were the quickest car to half-track last night and right after that the blower belt came off and I was fourth,” said Hight. “So it was definitely on a good run and right there the 330 time was right where it needed to be to run a 3.85. We were trying but it just wouldn’t hold. Tomorrow is going to be a different set of conditions but we are just going to get out there and take it one round at a time. We know these Chevrolet Camaros can win and that is what we are here to do.”
The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car and Courtney Force made the quickest run of the first Funny Car session today. They picked up three qualifying bonus points and moved into the top half of the field with a strong 3.905 second run.
In the second session that was delayed by a number of oil downs and crashes Courtney Force took to the track beside teammate John Force. The conditions were prime for quick runs and the Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson tuned Chevrolet Camaro was set up to make an aggressive run for the No. 1 qualifier spot. Unfortunately Force’s 10,000 hp Funny Car overpowered the track and Force will head into race day as the No. 8 qualifier.
“We definitely pushed the Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS pretty hard on that run because we saw some of the runs the guys were making out there. When we were lined up against my dad (John Force) in the other lane he made a killer run with a 3.88 and our 60 foot time was even better than his. If we could have had it go through there and had a solid run it would have been a good one,” explained Force. “We still had a great pass today in Q3 with a 3.90 and grabbed three bonus points which was huge for our Traxxas team. I am really excited going into race day. Our team didn’t make the consistent runs that we would have liked to feel a little more comfortable going into tomorrow but you know I have the confidence in my team and crew chiefs that we will get this thing figured out and be ready for first round.”
Force will face Alexis DeJoria in a Countdown contender first round showdown. The youngest Force is 9-7 against DeJoria and she has won both meetings in 2016.
The first run on Saturday for Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team was a less than impressive 5.906 second pass. Force launched off the starting line but as the Monster Energy dragster was accelerating to half-track it hazed the tires and deployed the parachutes.
In the final Top Fuel session Force made a nice smooth run and crossed the finish line with an elapsed time of 3.742 seconds at 322.50 mph. Her time was the fifth quickest of the session and sets the Monster Energy team up with a strong tune up for race day. Force will go into Sunday as the No. 7 qualifier and will face Tripp Tatum in the first round. This is Force’s best qualifying position in three previous attempts at the NHRA Toyota Nationals.
“I am definitely glad to be out here in Vegas. Only two races left in our season which is just crazy to hear. This year has just flown by. We want two more wins if we could have them. Two more races left and that is what we are going after even though we are in a tough spot. With this Monster Energy team behind me we can do anything and we are going after that win tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.
Force will face Tatum for the second time in her career. The last time the fourth year pro raced Tatum was the Gatornationals earlier this year when Force defeated him in the second round on the way to her first Top Fuel victory.