ROBERT HIGHT SET ON REPEAT LAS VEGAS WIN
LAS VEGAS (October 25, 2016) --- Last year Robert Hight rolled into the Toyota NHRA Nationals looking to pick up his second win of the season. This season the two-time winner of the penultimate race in of the NHRA season is looking for a repeat performance. In 2015 Hight qualified No. 3 and took out Gary Densham, eventual Funny Car world champion Del Worsham, Chad Head and Tommy Johnson Jr on the way to the win.
“Getting the win last year was a big boost going into the off-season for this Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro team. We were playing catch up on performance for most of the summer. Things started to come together in the Countdown and the Las Vegas race was a strong performance for us,” said Hight.
The win was big on a personal level for Hight when you consider it kept alive his career-long streak of winning at least two national events every season of his career. Hight has one win in 2016 and has two more opportunities to keep that unprecedented streak going heading into this weekend’s evet.
“I want to win every race so I don’t think about streaks but you want to be consistent. My goal every race is to come out every race and make strong runs on Friday to set up the rest of the weekend. We have been doing that pretty well in the Countdown this season with the exception of Reading,” explained Hight.
It is true that no Funny Car team has been more successful in qualifying in two of the previous three races than the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro. In St. Louis Hight picked up eight qualifying bonus points and ran to the No. 1 qualifier position. Hight was just as successful at the AAA Texas Fall National at the Texas Motorplex earning seven bonus points and another No. 1 qualifier. In both of those races Hight was ousted by an eventual finalist before getting the money round.
“In St. Louis and Ennis I felt like we had the race car that could have won the event. St. Louis was tough because we made so many quick runs without any issues and we just stubbed our toe a little in the second round. The same deal happened at the AAA Texas Fall Nationals in the semis. We spun the tires a little and it cost us. Funny Car racing is so tough now you just can’t make any mistakes or have even a minor issue,” said Hight.
The championship is not out of reach for Hight, who collected his lone world championship in 2009. That year Hight raced from the No. 10 spot to No. 1 and all but clinched the championship at the Toyota Nationals. This year it will take Hight’s best effort and some serious miscues from his competitors. The Auto Club Chevy Camaro sits in the No. 6 position in points and is 187 points out of first place. The mindset of the former world-class trap shooter is to stay focused and not get distracted.
“It is a big long shot for us to get the championship but we still have a mathematical shot. Stranger things have happened in the world of sports and we are just going to do our job. We need to get every qualifying bonus point and then win this race. We can’t start looking at what other people are doing. We can’t control that. Our goal is to go out and try and win this race and then see where we are heading to the Auto Club Finals,” summed up Hight.
BRITTANY FORCE AND MONSTER ENERGY LOOKING FOR RECORD FINISH
LAS VEGAS (October 25, 2016) --- Not since 1982 when Shirley Muldowney won her final Top Fuel world championship has a female Top Fuel racer been in the position Brittany Force currently sits. With two races left in the season Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster are sitting in the No. 4 spot in the Mello Yello point standings and they are just 41 points out of the No. 2 spot. In since Muldowney’s championship season over 30 years ago no female Top Fuel driver has finished the season higher than fourth in the points.
Two weeks ago Force raced to the quarterfinals at the AAA Texas Fallnationals on the heels of a final round appearance at the Dodge Nationals in Reading. The success in Pennsylvania has the Monster Energy team motivated to finish the last two races strong.
“Reading was huge for our team. Going to the final was a big step especially now that there are only three races left. Now it is all about the teams that are going to be at the top for the next few races. We didn’t get the win but we got to the final and we are going to build on that. With two races left that is what we need to keep doing, winning rounds,” said Force.
Force has raced at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at every level of his career. The teacher turned Top Fuel racer started in Super Comp, then progressed to Top Alcohol Dragster and made her first Top Fuel runs at the storied track just north of the famed Las Vegas strip.
“I think doing well in Las Vegas will be a big factor for the championship. Our goal is to have a chance to win the championship when we get to the Auto Club Finals in Pomona. We are going to do everything we can to be in a position where we can win,” said Force. “We go into every race thinking we can win and it starts with the first round of qualifying. This has been an amazing season and these last couple of races will be even more exciting with the championship on the line.”
The biggest change for Force this season in addition to collecting three wins, a season high for a female Top Fuel Top Ten finisher in over three decades, has been the collection of talent on her team. The preseason addition of Top Fuel consultant Alan Johnson and crew chief Brian Husen have given the fourth year driver much needed confidence behind the wheel.
“I am confident in this Monster Energy team looking at these last couple of races. This is a new experience for me but I am surrounded by teammates and crew chiefs that have won championships and that gives me a lot of confidence. We have had a great season so far and I have reached a lot of my goals but I still have goals I want to achieve this season,” summed up Force.
With two races left Force knows that catching the point leader will be an almost insurmountable task she is however in the middle of a dogfight for the No. 2 spot with some of the biggest names and toughest competitors in the sport. Just in front of Force sits Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon and a mere six points behind her is technical alliance teammate Steve Torrence who is followed closely by 8-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher and JR Todd.
“I just try and not think about the pressure. My job is to just do what my crew chiefs tell me to do and not try and do anything different. This whole season has been a new experience for me and I am still learning. I still get butterflies but I think everyone does when you get into situations like this,” explained Force. “This season I have learned to just relax and focus on doing the little things. My Monster Energy teammates have been very supportive all season and we are really working well together down this last home stretch.”
JOHN FORCE NOT QUITTING IN PURSUIT OF 17TH CHAMPIONSHIP
LAS VEGAS (October 25, 2016) --- The math might not be in the favor of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force but the former truck driver was never a very serious student. With two races remaining in the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season the winningest driver in NHRA history is looking to add to his unprecedented win total with a win at this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals and then a win in Pomona in two weeks. Force will pull into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro looking for his fourth Toyota Nationals win.
“I don’t care what the math says. Until they tell me it’s impossible to win the championship this year I am going to fight with everything that I have to win it. I owe that to my fans, the sponsors and my teammates. We have been underdogs before and I guess I am an underdog for these last two races. I have the fire to win and I am going to give these races everything I have,” said Force.
The 67 year-old has three wins this season and only two other Funny Car drivers have more. Force won Denver then Sonoma to get the first two legs of the vaunted Western Swing before falling early on race day in Seattle. Force then bounced back with a win in the Countdown checking off the Carolina Nationals as the lone national event he had yet to win. There are not many records left on the table for Force but he continues to fight for every round win.
“I have all these young guys working on my race car and Jon Schaffer, Jason McCulloch and Nick Casertano leading them. I can’t let them down my not trying my hardest. I get so much energy from them,” explained Force.
Throughout his career Force was won over 1,200 rounds of racing and will most certainly pass the 150 race win mark at some point in 2017. Two more wins this season would give Force five for the year and would bring his career total of seasons with five wins or more to an astounding fourteen. Race wins mean a lot to the 16-time world champion but it is the chase for the championship that motivates Force at this time of the season.
“You want to be in the fight and right now we are barely on the outside. I still believe I can win this championship. I want to win this championship for PEAK, Auto Club, Traxxas, Monster Energy, Chevrolet, Lucas Oil and Mac Tools. I also want to win it for all my fans. They give me more energy than I think they know. When I have a tough race I get out on the ropes and they put me back together,” summed up Force.
TRAXXAS’S COURTNEY FORCE LOOKING TO WRAP UP ANOTHER STRONG SEASON
LAS VEGAS (October 25, 2016) --- Courtney Force and the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team are looking at the Toyota NHRA Nationals as another chance to show the strength of their 2016 season. The fifth year pro led the points in the spring after her win at the O’Reilly Spring Nationals in Houston. Force then maintained her point position throughout the season capping the regular season off with a Traxxas Nitro Shootout win. While the Countdown has not cooperated with Force, an 8-time Funny Car winner, the 2012 Auto Club Road to the Future Award recipient isn’t just running out the clock.
“There are two more races we can win this season. We have been to the finals three times this season and picked up a win in Houston. The definite highlight so far was winning that $100,000 in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout at the U.S. Nationals. I think this Traxxas Chevrolet team has a lot more round wins out there and we would love to get eight more round wins to end this season,” said Force.
Force is currently 8th in the Mello Yello point standings but there is definitely room to move up in the points with some round wins. The point leader is over 200 points ahead but a career best finish in the Top Three is not out of the question for Force.
“I will need to have some of the drivers out in front stumble but I think we have a really consistent race car. (Crew chiefs) Danny Hood and Ronnie Thompson have been great this year and I think it has shown in how well this Camaro has competed,” added Force.
Force’s history at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway began with a red hot start at the fall national event. In her first two races in the desert to close out the season Force raced to the final round and in 2013 Force was on the losing in of the race that clinched the championship for her father, legendary Funny Car driver John Force.
“That was a day of mixed emotions for me. I was happy my dad won the championship but I really wanted to win that race. We were the No. 2 qualifier and our Traxxas Funny Car had been great all day. He got the win and the championship but I still think about that Wally. I have been on the wrong side of some races against my dad a lot this season too. He is a great teacher and teammate but I definitely want to beat him every time we race each other,” said Force.
This season has been especially tough on the youngest Force daughter when it comes to head to head races with her father. The duo has raced five times and Courtney is still looking for her first 2016 round win against the 146-time winner. Twice the elder Force has defeated his daughter and gone on to victory including two races in the Western Swing.
“It seemed like every time I turned around I was racing my dad for while this season. He definitely makes you a better driver. I have a lot of round wins this season but it would be great if I had a few more,” summed up Force.
In fact Force has tied her winningest season as far as round wins with 30 round wins already and two races remaining. In 2014 Force picked up 30 round wins and five finals rounds with four wins and a fourth place finish in the Mello Yello points. This year her Traxxas Camaro has been much more consistent and the possibility of two more race wins looms in the near future.