TEAM JFR RACE REPORT
6th of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Series
28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals
Royal Purple Raceway
April 26, 2015
Final round results from Sunday’s 28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, sixth race in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
FUNNY CAR – Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., Napa Dodge Charger, 4.244, 258.32 mph def. Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Infinite Hero Dodge Charger, 4.480, 205.16 mph
TOP FUEL – Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.820, 324.98 def. Tony Schumacher, Austin, Texas, US Army dragster, 4.014, 225.60 mph.
PRO STOCK – Erica Enders-Stevens, New Orleans, La., Lupe Tortillas Elite Motorsports, 6.571, 211.73 mph def. Chris McGaha, Odessa, Texas, Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro, 6.674, 207.91 mph.
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BAYTOWN, TX --- It was a strong day for John Force Racing at the 28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals even though the team just missed getting into the winner’s circle for the 239th time. Robert Hight and Courtney Force raced their Chevrolet Camaro Funny Cars to the semi-finals but came up just a few thousandths of a second short.
Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car took out Chad Head and then team leader John Force to set up a Hight versus Ron Capps semi-final. When the race cars crossed the finish line the scoreboards lit up with exact same elapsed time but the margin of victory was one thousandth of a second on the starting line as both drivers had nearly identical reaction times.
“We lost a close one today. That is two close finishes in a row for this Chevy team. You want to get those wins but we will win those close races down the road. I am just really proud of my team. We had a motor swap in the pits before the semi-finals. There was no one panicking. We got it ready to race and put on a great race. This AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS race car is strong and only getting stronger. I can’t wait to get to Atlanta,” said Hight, who was the Spring Nationals winner in 2014.
Hight will head to the seventh race of the season No. 4 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings and only four points out of third place. This was Hight’s fourth time to reach the semi-finals in six races this season.
Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force was taken out by his teammate in the second round. The winningest driver in history and owner of eighteen world championship trophies as a team owner still had a positive outlook on the day.
“We didn’t get the win like we did in Las Vegas but it is still a win when you learn. We got two cars to the semi-finals. Courtney got the Traxxas Camaro and Robert got the AAA Texas Chevy to the semis. We are moving in the right direction and I am pretty pumped. The Top Fuel dragster is going rounds. We have three Funny Cars in the Top Ten again and that dragster is about a round out of the Top Ten,” said Force.
In the first round Force took out veteran driver Del Worsham who joined a select group of Funny Car drivers. The round win was Force’s 50th round win over Worsham who joins Ron Capps, Tony Pedregon and Cruz Pedregon as the only drivers Force has bested 50 times or more in eliminations.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team improved their position in the Funny Car point standings today with a semi-final finish from the No. 12 qualifying spot.
In the opening round, Force lined up beside veteran driver Tim Wilkerson without lane choice. This was the tenth time the pair have met up on race day but the first time they have raced at Houston. It is also their first match-up of 2015.
“We came out here Sunday morning, I felt like we had a brand new car and such a motivated team. We went up for first round and we made our quickest pass of the entire weekend with a 4.056 ET and took down Tim Wilkerson on a hole-shot. It was a lot of fun for our team; very exciting to be moving forward. The things that we’ve changed I think have allowed us to start getting this car figured out and it’s definitely motivating me and the rest of the guys,” said Force.
The second round put Force in the lane next to the only other female in Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria. This was the tenth time they have met on race day, the last being two weeks ago at the last NHRA race in Las Vegas. This was the eighth time they have met in the opening round on race day and the third time they have competed on race day.
“We moved forward to second round and got the win light over Alexis with a 4.11 ET. It was a solid pass in the heat only to be taken out in the semifinals to Beckman with a 4.17. We should have pushed the car a little bit harder, but seeing as how we are still figuring things out, it was an okay run. We got the car down there, but we’re going to push it hard next weekend in Atlanta,” said Force.
Force and her Traxxas team will go into Atlanta in two weeks where they were runner-up to teammate Robert Hight last season.
“I think our confidence is building. We may have not taken home the win, but for us, this is step forward for our Traxxas Chevy Camaro team. We’re looking forward to Atlanta and hopefully we can continue to go rounds there. I think this weekend has moved us in the right direction and jumped us up in the points as well,” said Force.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year moved up three positions in the NHRA Funny Car points from No. 12 to No. 9.
Brittany Force and the Next Generation Top Fuel dragster made strides towards success even though it might not show up on the results sheet. Force qualified No. 9 and took out No. 8 Leah Pritchett in the first round and then dropped a close second round match-up to Texan Spencer Massey. By Force’s own admission her dragster’s performance was trying to turn a corner all weekend and on race day it made big strides.
“Overall I am very happy with this weekend. We struggled in qualifying and we only got one good pass. To come out and improve in the first round and then make another clean pass gives us a lot of confidence. We ran good numbers both rounds and that just shows that our race car is coming around,” said Force, the 2013 Rookie of the Year.
“Unfortunately I lost on a hole shot but that is something that I can fix. I can do that and it is something I am going to work on. You get a lot of confidence from having a good race car. Now that we have a good race car I can work on my driving skills and continue to improve.”
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MELLO YELLO POINT STANDINGS
FUNNY CAR – 1. Ron Capps, 431; 2. Matt Hagan, 425; 3. Del Worsham, 401; 4. Robert Hight, AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 397; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr, 369; 6. Jack Beckman, 353; 7. John Force, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 328; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 328; 9. Courtney Force, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 301; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 291
TOP FUEL – 1. Tony Schumacher, 474; 2. Spencer Massey, 441; 3. Antron Brown, 437; 4. Shawn Langdon, 406; 5. Doug Kalitta, 390; 6. Richie Crampton, 374; 7. Steve Torrence, 325; 8. Larry Dixon, 318; 9. Clay Millican, 312; 10. JR Todd, 299; 11. Brittany Force, Next Generation dragster, 277
PRO STOCK – 1. Erica Enders Stevens, 510; 2. Jason Line, 495; 3. Greg Anderson, 458; 4. Chris McGaha, 432; 5. Roger Brogdon, 385; 6. Vincent Nobile, 337; 7. Drew Skillman, 334; 8. Larry Morgan, 320; 9. Shane Gray, 295;
10. Allen Johnson, 280
JOHN FORCE, 65, Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 15th at 4.272 seconds, 308.78 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race Results: Beat Del Worsham, Lost to Robert Hight
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 7th at 4.058 seconds, 314.97 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q1)
Race Results: Beat Chad Head, John Force, Lost to Ron Capps
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 12th at 4.137 seconds, 304.67 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race Results: Beat Tim Wilkerson, Alexis DeJoria, Lost to Jack Beckman
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, JFR Next Generation Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 9th at 3.779 seconds, 324.44 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race Results: Beat Leah Pritchett, Lost to Spencer Massey