INDIANAPOLIS – After two days of qualifying at the most prestigious drag race in the world the winningest drag racing team in history is looking for improvement headed into the final day of qualifying. The 60th annual Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals will continue on Sunday with two more qualifying sessions and the 3rd annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Cars. Three John Force Racing Funny Cars will be competing in the eight car Shootout and all will be trying to race into the winner’s circle with the $100,000 winner’s check.
John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang came up a little short today during the rescheduled Brainerd final that was completed this evening as part of the third qualifying session at the U.S. Nationals.
The 16-time champ was in his 233rd final round appearance and was racing for win number 142 when he lined up against Ron Capps. John was also hoping to get to win number 79 behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang as it would eclipsed the record legendary Blue Oval Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden and make John Force the winningest Ford backed driver in history. Ironically, it was at Brainerd in 1997 that John Force scored his first win driving Mustang and it was against his fellow opponent he face this evening, Ron Capps.
“It was fantastic to have an opportunity with Capps to get a three-peat. I am going for win No. 79 with Ford Racing if I could’ve win the Brainerd final tonight, I would be the winningest driver for Ford Racing history. My first win in a Ford Mustang was at Brainerd and I beat Capps so if I beat him again I can break the record. It makes it all very exciting,” said John Force
However, it was not to be despite John’s starting advantage over Capps. As the Christmas tree flashed green, the Castrol GTX Mustang was off first. With header flames shooting eight feet in the air, his 8000 horsepower BOSS 500 nitro breathing engine was hauling down the track. Unfortunately, it was not enough to defeat Capps as John’s 4.126 second run at 313.88 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Capp’s 4.026 second run at 320.26 mph.
“He (Ron Capps) stepped it up and we were trying to get in the show. We didn’t want to mess around and have it rain tomorrow and not get in so we played it safe, he got the win and I think our 4.12 pass got us in,” said John Force.
With the Traxxas Nitro Shootout scheduled for Sunday, John Force and his crew has now turned their energies and focus to winning this bonus race. John did win the inaugural Traxxas Shootout in 2012 and would love to claim another victory. Crew chief Jimmy Prock will make some tuning adjustments to extract some better performance numbers out of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
“You have to play the game like this is just another day at the office. First I want to thank the president of Traxxas Mike Jenkins. He is off road racing himself. He gave my daughter a chance to come out here with a great sponsor and great company. If you haven’t tried their products you need to. We got helicopters at the press conference on Wednesday in our goodie bags. That is awesome. What is really cool is I have gone back to back here but it has been a few years,” said John Force.
With a two more chances to make history this Labor Day weekend, John Force is going full throttle but he’s up for any challenge.
“I just think three races in one is a heart attack for an old man like me.”
In typical Force fashion, he likes to joke about the strain it can put on during the NHRA U.S. Nationals but he’s ready to go rounds and possible get win number 142 this Monday and claim his fifth NHRA U.S. Nationals victory.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Funny Car team were on the outside looking in coming into the first qualifying session today. They jumped into the show with a solid 4.053 second pass which held up throughout the day. Ultimately Hight will go into the Traxxas Shootout with a good baseline for competition and a strong shot at winning his first bonus race. As qualifying wrapped up Hight’s Auto Club Mustang was one of the past cars to go down the track and just past half-track his Goodyears shook loose. He finished the day as the No. 9 qualified Funny Car in a strong field that saw the top spot occupied by Jack Beckman with a 4.004.
“The first run today was a good baseline for race day and the Traxxas Shootout. We are in the show and our plan is look at improving that position and winning the Traxxas Shootout. It will be tough tomorrow since every driver in the Shootout has a legitimate shot at winning. I like my chances since I have a crew chief like Mike Neff in my corner,” said Hight a three-time U.S. Nationals winner.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas team are battling tough competition at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals and all that comes with breaking in a new car. The 26-year-old driver made two passes today with her first pass equaling a 4.107 and her last session of the day yielding a partial run.
“On our first pass today we had a hole out and still managed to run a 4.10 to put us in the top half of the field, but as more teams made their runs we got bumped down. In our night session tonight it spun the tires. It’s unfortunate because we do only have one good pass down the race track so far and we are preparing to go into our sponsor’s race tomorrow, the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. There’s a lot on the line so we’re just going to try to keep a level head and do what we can,” said Force.
Force, who picked up her first No. 1 qualifying effort at this event two years ago during her rookie season, ran the 13th quickest run of the day for the Funny Car field. The team will get two more qualifying attempts tomorrow, but will start over with no time for not making the top 12 by the end of the day Saturday.
Brittany Force drove her Castrol EDGE Dragster to the number seven spot this evening during the third qualifying session. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year blasted down the iconic Indianapolis Raceway Park with a stellar 3.786 second pass at 328.30 mph. Not only was Brittany the second fastest in the third session, she also moved up two qualifying positions.
“I could tell by the way the car felt it was going to be a fast pass. We were hoping to improve and we definitely stepped it up and running that 3.78 is awesome. I’m so proud of the Castrol EDGE team and this is exactly what we wanted to do today and we did just that. The fact we ran 328 mph is also pretty cool and exciting and shows we’re on the right track,” said Brittany Force.
Earlier today, Brittany Force was competing in the 3rd annual Traxxas Shootout. Facing Doug Kalitta in round one, Brittany was on a great run but just wasn’t enough to hold off the hard charging Kalitta as he crossed the finish line first. Brittany ran a 3.83 second pass at 319.60 to Kalitta’s 3.794 at 324. 05.
“The car went right down the track and it ran a good number and we’re excited about that. Even though we lost in the opening round, we’re happy to be competing in Traxxas Shootout. It’s pretty exciting and I have to thank all my loyal fans who voted for me because without them, I wouldn’t be here racing in the Traxxas Shootout. I wish we could’ve gone rounds but that’s okay, we start over again tomorrow and the eliminations for the U.S. Nationals starts Monday and it’ll get really exciting so hopefully we can get our first win for Castrol EDGE and John Force racing,” said Force, a three-time finalist this season.
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JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 14th quickest at 4.126 seconds at 313.88 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
ROBERT HIGHT, 44, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 9th at 4.055 seconds at 316.67 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 13th quickest at 4.107 seconds at 306.60 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 7th at 3.786 seconds at 328.30 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0