SONOMA, CA – With warmer temperatures today at Sonoma Raceway the quartet of John Force Racing race cars held form in qualifying for the 28th annual Sonoma NHRA Nationals. John Force held onto the No. 3 position followed by Robert Hight in No. 5 position and Courtney Force in the No. 12 qualifying spot in Funny Car. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster did step up in the final session and will go into race day as the No. 12 dragster.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro were the most consistent JFR entry all weekend. They picked up qualifying bonus points in three of the four sessions accumulating seven points in total and the lone session without points was ironically the run that was Hight’s career quickest elapsed time, 3.974 seconds.
Today Hight’s Auto Club Chevy Camaro was the quickest Funny Car of the first session running 4.079 seconds at 317.34 mph in the heat and in the final session he stepped up running 3.057 seconds at 313.51 mph, the second quickest run of the session.
“It has been a long time since we have made four runs like this. You can’t look at what other cars are running. This is an improvement for us. I don’t care who I race first round. You have to race someone. I like the way this Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS is running,” said Hight, the 2008 Sonoma Nationals winner. “We gained points on every run except one and the run we didn’t get points was our career best so how can you be bummed out about that. We are starting to see a turn around and we are starting to get better at the right time. Tomorrow is a big day. We need to capitalize on how we are running, be consistent, and go some rounds tomorrow.”
Hight will face teammate Courtney Force in the first round with lane choice and a career 8-5 record against the Traxxas Chevy Camaro driver.
On Friday night John Force and the Blue Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team blasted to the No. 3 qualifying position on the strength of a stellar 3.970 second run. Today Force continued to get ready for race day with crew chief Jon Schaffer testing the limits in the first session of the day and then setting up Force for a solid run in the final qualifying session.
On Force’s last run of the day he powered down the track with a 4.091 second elapsed time picking up valuable data for the entire John Force Racing operation. The 16-time champion and most recent runner-up finisher last weekend in Denver was all business at the end of the day.
“I am going into tomorrow trying to win. The competition is tough. (No. 1 qualifier Jack) Beckman’s stuff is flying. Our job is to get faster and get that consistency. That is what we plan on doing. We got everybody qualified and that is the bottom line,” said Force, the 2014 Sonoma Nationals runner-up.
Despite improving their elapsed time in the final round of qualifying today at Sonoma, Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team settled in the No. 12 position going into Sunday’s elimination rounds. Unfortunately, Force will face her teammate, Robert Hight, in the opening round.
“Our Traxxas team is qualified in the No. 12 spot. We’re going to have a tough first round match up with our teammate Robert Hight. We’re both right in there trying to fight our way into the top ten in points right now. He’s in and I’m following right behind him,” Force said.
The 27-year-old Funny Car driver has a history of getting the job done on race day regardless of qualifying in the bottom half of the field and losing lane choice in the opening round. During her rookie season she went to her first ever final round from the No. 12 spot (Chicago, 2012) and picked up her first Funny Car win from the No. 14 position (Seattle, 2012). Just three races ago, Force advanced to her fourteenth final from the No. 9 qualified spot.
“We’re definitely going to work hard for this round win. Robert is going to have lane choice over us, but we’re going to do the best we can this weekend. I think we have a pretty good race car. We laid down a solid number in the final qualifying session with a 4.05, we just missed our opportunity in Q2 when the track was cooled off and was really good,” said Force.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year is 5-8 to Hight in previous events, but they are 1-1 this season. Force lost to the President of John Force Racing in the second round in Phoenix at the start of the season, but won more recently in the second round in Epping. This is only the third time they have squared off in the opening round.
“I’m proud of my team that they ran a number like that in the heat of the day today which is what we will be running in tomorrow. We’re going to see if we can get this car a little more consistent and hopefully we’ll be taking out our round one competitor. We’ll start with Robert Hight in round one and see where we can go from there,” Force said.
The final run of the day for Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team was the most important pass of the weekend. In the first session the third year driver once again had to pedal her dragster to get it down the track under power. The 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner was sitting in the No. 15 spot and stepped up to the No. 12 qualifying position with a solid. 3.872 second run as the sun set on Sonoma Raceway.
“That last run was definitely the most important run of the weekend. We struggled to get the car down there leading up to that run. We couldn’t seem to get a solid clean run in out there. We needed something to work off of going into first round of eliminations tomorrow,” said Force. “We got this Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster down there and we were trying to run close to 3.87. I am proud of the entire team and we pair up with Tony Schumacher first round. We raced him last weekend and he took us out so it is our turn tomorrow.”
Force races Tony Schumacher in round one and will be looking for her first round win at Sonoma Raceway. She is 3-4 against him for her career and 2-1 in 2015. She most recently dropped a semi-final race to the 8-time Top Fuel champion in Denver last week.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Blue DEF Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 3.970 seconds, 322.96 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
First round opponent (W-L): John Hale (1-1)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 5th at 3.974 seconds, 322.96 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +7 (2nd quickest of Q1, quickest of Q3 and 2nd quickest of Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Courtney Force (8-5)
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 12th at 4.059 seconds, 315.42 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Robert Hight (5-8)
BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 12th quickest at 3.872 seconds, 320.66 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Tony Schumacher (3-4)
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Sunday, August 2
Final Eliminations 11:00 AM