JOHN FORCE WANTS MORE OUT OF RETURN TO SONOMA RACEWAY
SONOMA, CA (July 29, 2015) --- John Force has been competing and winning on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for decades. He is the only Funny Car driver to win the elusive Western Swing. This weekend will be the continuation of Force’s 27th Western Swing and, through last week's race at Denver Force has won 161 racing rounds in the three Western Swing events. That's an average of two round wins in each of the 81 events comprising the Swing or six round wins per year.
1994 was the high water mark when he won all three races collecting 12 round wins but he also won 11 rounds in 1996, 10 rounds in 1991, 2003 and 2014 and 9 rounds in 2007.
“I love the Western Swing. We used to stay on the road the whole time and it was me and my crew travelling all over the west. Now I have business to take care of between races and I try and spend some time with my family. The best part is still being with your team for three races in a row. I have a whole new team of young guys now and they keep me motivated,” said Force.
Last weekend in Denver Force had performance on top of his personal motivation driving him to the final round. He was the provisional No. 1 qualifier on the mountain at Bandimere Speedway with a track record 4.015 second run on Friday. He was the quickest Funny Car on Saturday, collecting 1,000 lottery scratch-off tickets from the Denver Lottery for his effort. He took the No. 1 qualifier position, the record 155th of his career, all the way to the final round after outrunning John Hale, Cruz Pedregon, and then Tony Pedregon on the way to his 241st final round. The winningest driver ever with 144 wins came up a little short when the Goodyears on his Blue Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car began hazing the track as he was pulling away from his opponent.
He moved up to third place in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standing and is only 47 points out of second place, just over two rounds of racing. His two wins and four final round appearances is tops for John Force Racing and has the team leader confident his whole organization will benefit in the long run.
“We are building a great brain-trust here. (Robert Hight’s crew chief) Mike Neff is my new Austin Coil and I have (crew chief) Jon Schaffer who is just like Neff. You see him working on the race car and he is as cool as can be. Ron Douglas and Dan Hood will get the Traxxas Chevy running and I am happy to see the success Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson are having with the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster,” said Force.
Last year at Sonoma Raceway Force raced his way to the final round only to be denied by his youngest daughter Courtney Force. With the win she became the winningest female Funny Car driver but that did not change Force’s attitude about missing out on the win.
“I was happy to see her get the win but I want to win too. Getting two JFR Funny Cars to the final is always the plan. It is great for our sponsors like Peak, Auto Club, Traxxas, Monster, Chevrolet, Mac Tools and Lucas Oil. We have a lot of new partners so we want to make sure we get them as much exposure as possible,” added Force.
AUTO CLUB’S HIGHT LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURN TO SONOMA RACEWAY
SONOMA, CA (July 29, 2015) --- For Robert Hight every trip to Sonoma Raceway is a trip down memory lane. Hight used to sit in the grandstands and watch drivers like Kenny Bernstein and John Force blast down the Northern California track dreaming of one day working on the 10,000 hp race cars. This year Hight will return to Sonoma Raceway with his eyes firmly focused on a return to the winner’s circle and a guaranteed spot in the lucrative Traxxas Shootout.
“Last weekend in Denver the last guaranteed spot in the Traxxas Shootout for Top Fuel was taken and I want to get that last spot for the Funny Car race. Unfortunately there is just one spot left and I am battling some tough race cars including my teammate Courtney Force. You don’t want to leave anything to chance so the focus for the Auto Club Chevrolet team is to qualify well and then win the race,” said Hight, who sits in the No. 10 spot in the Mello Yello points.
Hight started the season with a lot of momentum racing to three semi-final finishes and a runner-up finish during the first six races. Hight was just a few thousandths of a second away for victory in Las Vegas but it was teammate and 16-time champion John Force getting the win light in the desert.
“We got off to a quick start and then Mike Neff and I made a decision to start figuring some things out on these race cars that would help us down the road. We figured a few things out that worked and saw a few things that wouldn’t work, for not just us, but the whole John Force Racing organization. We have slipped back some in the points but I am confident we will start seeing some progress over these next four regular season races,” said Hight.
The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car has come around in qualifying over the past five races posting top five or better qualifying starts in three races including Denver, Norwalk and Epping. Hight and his team have collected qualifying bonus points and they are now focused on using their qualifying success on race day.
In 2008 Hight had his best outing at Sonoma Raceway even though he started from the No. 11 qualifying position. Hight took out Del Worsham in the first round before defeating the Pedregon brothers Cruz and Tony in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively. The final round was a tough race against veteran Gary Densham but Hight prevailed for his first win in Sonoma. It was a bittersweet victory coming on the heels of the passing of teammate and friend Eric Medlen the year before.
“That win in 2008 was very special. We lost Eric the season before and this was his home track. We raced really well that day and everyone on the team wanted to get that win for Eric,” said Hight.
With four races left in the regular season Hight continues to think about building momentum and securing his spot in the Countdown and the Traxxas Shootout. In his previous ten starts at Sonoma Raceway Hight only has two first round losses and has won or advanced to the semi-finals three times. He would like to power his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to the winner’s circle one more time at Sonoma Raceway.
“We have won at least two races every season I have been racing professionally. We have had some tough luck on race day but we don’t have any excuses. I can’t wait to get to Sonoma Raceway and put Denver behind me and really go after our first win this season,” concluded Hight.
BRITTANY FORCE ROLLING INTO SONOMA RACEWAY WITH CONFIDENCE
SONOMA, CA (July 29, 2015) --- On the heels of her third semi-final finish this season Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team are rolling into the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway with confidence. The second stop on the historic NHRA’s Western Swing will be a chance for Force to make another move up the Mello Yello point standings.
Last weekend in Denver Force qualified No. 3 and raced to the semi-finals after outrunning Terry McMillen and Shawn Langdon in the first two rounds. The win over Langdon was especially critical for the third year driver from Yorba Linda, California, since she moved around the Top Fuel champion in the point standings. Force now sits in the No. 7 spot, her highest position of the season, and is 116 points ahead of the driver in 11th place with only four races left before the end of the regular season. Force is also only 26 points, just over one round of racing, out of sixth place.
“Right now with only a few races left before the Countdown begins we want to make sure we stay in there. We just have to keep going rounds. So I wasn’t even expecting it (in Denver) but we bumped up from the eighth spot and moved around Langdon and moved up to the number seven spot,” said Force. “I am very proud of my entire Monster Energy team, especially my crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson. They put together a consistent race car all weekend (in Denver). It went down the track every single run and that is a tough thing to do, especially at Denver where everything is completely different.”
Last year Force qualified No. 1 and was upset by veteran Clay Millican and in her rookie season she qualified No. 14 and was defeated by Doug Kalitta in the opening session. The Monster Energy-backed Top Fuel driver would like to break the cycle of first round losses at the race track in the center of the Napa Valley.
“This Monster Energy team gives me confidence. Coming out to Denver, you can see what this whole team is capable of. That was a tough track and they got it figured out from Q1. We are going to try and do that again here in Sonoma. We are excited going into Sonoma. I know we struggled there last year, but we are hoping to turn our luck around going into it this year,” said Force who has raced to five final rounds in her young career.
Force’s highest point was the runner-up finish at Englishtown. The young Top Fuel driver knows how tough round wins are in the Top Fuel class and does not take anyone lightly. Heading to Sonoma Raceway and back to back races has the 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner focused.
“I love back to back races because you get into a groove. I am feeling very comfortable in my Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and I have a lot of confidence in my team. I am going into this weekend with a winning attitude and want to continue to go rounds,” said Force.
COURTNEY FORCE WANTS TO WIN AGAIN IN SONOMA
SONOMA, CA (July 29, 2015) --- With just four NHRA Mello Yello series events left in the regular season, Courtney Force finds herself fighting hard with her Traxxas team for a spot in the 2015 NHRA Countdown to the Championship. She currently sits just 23 points out of the No. 10 position going into the second stop along the infamous “Western Swing,” a series of back-to-back races starting with Denver, followed by Sonoma, and wrapping up in Seattle.
“I can't wait to be back at the track in Sonoma and love that I don't have to wait long to get back in my race car,” said Force. “This is the second stop on the Western Swing and our Traxxas team is focused and looking for a repeat of last year at Sonoma Raceway.”
In 2014 Force picked up the win at Sonoma Raceway after qualifying in the No. 11 spot. She beat her father John Force in the final round to break a tie with her sister, Ashley Force Hood, for most career Funny Car victories by a female driver with five. She now has seven career wins and is the record holder for most wins by a female in one season with four Funny Car victories.
“We have had success on this track in the past, picking up my fifth career win here last year. This was a huge win for myself and my team and I'm hoping we can get defend our title, and get back on our feet at this race track,” said Force.
So far this season, Force has qualified No. 1 twice and gone into race day with lane choice seven times. She has 13 round wins in 2015 and was recently runner-up at Norwalk, Ohio, her fourteenth career final round.
“My team has made some huge strides since the start of the season, but now it's about getting ourselves in the right position, learning from mistakes and putting them in the past. We are motivated for this weekend, and my team has given me a great car lately, but now we need to focus on going rounds. I do think we will get back on track because I have a great team behind me and we are keeping each other positive and excited for the rest of the season,” said Force.
The 27-year-old driver made an appearance one week ago in Sonoma with fiancé Graham Rahal to promote both the 2015 NHRA Sonoma Nationals and the IndyCar GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The future husband and wife were put through a racing skills challenge. Force and Rahal went head to head on the drag strip, road course and an old-fashioned grape stomp with Force winning two of the three events.
This week she’s back to let off some steam. The youngest Force is joining two of her older sisters in Sonoma for their annual wine tasting trip prior to the race weekend.
“I love coming to Sonoma because I have a tradition here with my sisters of coming into town early and spending a day wine tasting. As much as we are together, it's usually for work, so this is a special time for us to be together and do something fun. I love spending this time with them and they help get me in the right mindset before going into a big race weekend,” said Force.