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John Force Racing News

October 3, 2015

READING, PA – It was a quick and short day of qualifying at the 31st annual NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. The professional classes were only able to get one qualifying run and two drivers from John Force Racing made the most of their lone opportunity. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team blasted to the No. 1 spot with career best elapsed time and speed numbers, 3.725 seconds and 331.53 mph. The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driven by Robert Hight set the standard in Funny Car with track record and personal best times of 3.922 seconds at 329.34 mph.

Rain delayed the start of the first qualifying session and Hight was the lone Funny Car driver to get his 10,000 hp race car to the finish line cleanly in the session and he while he was pleased with the performance he was not over-confident with his team’s effort.

“I am not going to stand here and tell you how good we are because you don’t get a lot of chances to run under conditions like this and it was kind of a perfect storm. We hit everything just right and that is what you have to do to make a run like that. There is some skill but a lot of it is luck,” said Hight in the Maple Grove Raceway pressroom.

“Going up there (crew chief) Mike Neff just looked back at what we ran in Brainerd at the Lucas Oil Nationals and he set it up like when we ran 3.93. We were using that run as a starting place to see where it went from there. Luckily it worked perfect. There are a lot of smart crew chiefs and a lot of really good race cars so for only one car to make it down the track just shows how tricky it was. You have to go into first round thinking did we just get lucky and are we going to be the ones smoking the tires? It is edgy. It is tough.”

With only one run on the board the Auto Club team has three qualifying bonus points but not a lot of information to go on heading into the first round of eliminations against John Hale. While some drivers might be happy to take the No. 1 spot with only one run Hight knows that more track time could be a more valuable commodity for race day.

“I wish that we had another round then you would go into Sunday knowing a little more. If we could go out and do it again you would have a lot of confidence. Now with everyone else messing up you don’t know. The good thing is being No. 1 qualifier has its perks we can wait until the end tomorrow and watch everybody else,” said Hight, who picked up his first No. 1 of 2015 and 47th of his career. “You are going to have to be ready for anything. You might have to pedal it but I want to thank NHRA Safety Safari for working so hard to get this track in order. I also want to thank the fans who came out. The pit side grandstand was pretty full for the conditions.”

Robert Hight is 1-0 against John Hale. Hight beat Hale in the first round of the 2013 Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Rains settled over the track shortly after the Pro Stock Motorcycles qualified and just before 6 p.m. local time NHRA officials ended the day and set the pro fields.

While Hight was collecting his 47th No. 1 Brittany Force grabbed her first of the season and fourth of her young career. The third year pro moved from 4th to 3rd in the Mello Yello qualifying point standings going around Larry Dixon by four points on the strength of her three qualifying bonus points and the points allocated for the No. 1 qualifier.

Force’s run was the strongest of the session but many of the Top Fuel dragsters struggled with the cold conditions. With a short field in Top Fuel of only fourteen race cars Force will face No. 14 qualifier Dave Connolly in the first round and the winner will receive a bye into the semi-finals.

“It is definitely tough going into tomorrow with only one run under our belt. It is not just our team but everyone out here. Everyone will battle that. Like Robert said we would like to have more runs but these are the conditions we all had to work with. We put down an awesome run in this Monster Top Fuel dragster,” said Force, who has raced to three semi-final finishes in the last four races. “We drove right through the shake zone and put an awesome number up on the scoreboard. We set a new career best record which we broke from our time and speed here last year. We like Reading and we went all the way to the final last year. We are hoping to take it all the way this weekend.”

The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster launched hard off the starting line and flew right down the middle of the lane. It was the smoothest run of the session and at the top end Force knew she had made a solid pass.

“I could tell that run was a good one because it just felt fast. Sometimes you know it is on a killer run. That run it just felt fast and clean. I knew it was a good one but my radio came unhooked so I was trying to talk with my guys to see what it ran,” said Force. “I didn’t know what it ran until I hoped out at the top end. Everyone was cheering when we rolled up so I knew it was something good.”

Brittany Force is 2-1 against Dave Connolly with her two wins coming in first round match-ups this season. Most recently Force dropped a semi-final race to Connolly last weekend in St. Louis.

Like many teams today, John Force and the Peak Anti-Freeze Chevrolet Camaro along with teammate and daughter Courtney Force and the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car didn’t make a full pull and run a good number in the only qualifying session of the weekend. Both teams will start behind the eight ball going into Sunday’s eliminations at the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

The eldest Force was able to secure the No. 8 qualifier spot with a pedestrian elapsed time of 9.594 seconds. The Courtney Force put a 9.874 second pass at 66.36 mph on the board and qualified No. 10. He will line up against Chad Head and she will line up beside Cruz Pedregon in the first round of eliminations tomorrow.

“Our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team didn’t make a full pass today on the first and only qualifying pass, but conditions were unusual and that was the case for many teams today. It’s tough going into race day with only one qualifying session to go off of, but we know that everyone is in the same boat. We’re lined up with Cruz in the first round and the conditions are going to make for a fast, fast race track so we’re just going to do what we know and be on our game tomorrow,” said Courtney Force.

Pedregon’s 9.344 ET at 65.01 mph put him in the No. 7 position. Force has been paired with the veteran driver nine times in the past, but only once this year until this weekend. This is the fifth time they have met in the opening round, but their first time racing in eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway. She has won three of their last five match-ups.

John Force is 3-0 versus Chad Head and the last time the pair met at the Keystone Nationals was 2013 when Force outran Head in the final round.

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JOHN FORCE, 66, Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS

Qualifying: 8th at 9.594 seconds, 71.07 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: 0

First round opponents (W-L): Chad Head (3-0)

ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS

Qualifying: 1st at 3.922 seconds, 329.34 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)

First round opponent (W-L): John Hale (1-0)

COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS

Qualifying: 10th at 9.874 seconds, 66.36 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: 0

First round opponent: Cruz Pedregon (4-5)

BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster

Qualifying: 1st at 3.725 seconds, 331.53 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)

First round opponent: Dave Connolly (2-1)

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Sunday, October 4

Final Eliminations 11 a.m.


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