Norwalk, Ohio – Unseasonably cool temperatures gave the stars of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series the perfect opportunity to flex their tune-up and performance muscles today at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Defending Funny Car winner John Force is well on the way to positioning himself and his white Chevrolet Camaro SS for their third win of the season as the provisional No. 3 qualifier. While the eldest Force was leading the way in the nitro flopper category Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster narrowly missed their first provisional No. 1 of the season and had to settle for the No. 2 spot heading into Saturday.
In the opening session John Force’s Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was on a strong run in the right lane when it got loose and Force had his hands full trying to keep control of his 10,000 horsepower Funny Car. He crossed the finish line with a time of 4.248 seconds and was set up to run early in the night session.
The 143-time winner was in the second pair of Funny Cars to take the track under the lights at Summit Motorsports Park. Conditions continued to improve and Force blasted down the left lane and lit up the Summit scoreboard with a 4.019 second elapsed time at 320.20 mph which gave Force the top spot on speed around Chad Head’s 4.019 second run at 314.68 mph. By the end of the session Force was pushed back two spots but the veteran was upbeat when you consider his crew chief Jon Schaffer knew there was more out there.
“We didn’t get down the track on the first run so we couldn’t lean on it so to end up third is pretty good. Jon Schaffer thinks it would have run in the threes. Tomorrow we will have another shot at it. I am excited. Any time you can put all you race cars in the top half of the field is great. Tomorrow you are going to see a lot of strong runs repeated with good conditions,” said Force who has 153 No. 1 qualifiers to his credit.
“We weren’t really trying to go for it on the last run. We were eleventh and we were just trying to get it in the show. We knew if we didn’t get a good run we could be pushed out of the top twelve. I am running the white Chevrolet body this weekend and we want to sell a lot of Camaros and a lot of Peak Anti-freeze.”
After the Funny Cars wrapped up their session Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster almost closed out the day with the provisional No. 1 qualifier but the third year driver was edged out by Spencer Massey, 3.741 to 3.755. The solid run in optimal conditions gave the 2013 Rookie of the Year confidence heading into Saturday’s final day of qualifying.
“It was a good day for the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster. We are running later in the evening tonight and tomorrow so these conditions are great. Usually it is hot but today it was pretty dang cool and it worked for us. We are in the No. 2 spot with a 3.75 and we picked up a couple bonus qualifying points. I am happy to get those bonus points and we will take as many of those as we can earn,” said Force, a five time Top Fuel finalist.
Courtney Force is comfortable with the position her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team is in after one day of qualifying is complete at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The Traxxas team lead by Ron Douglas and Dan Hood put their hot rod in the top half of the field in the No. 6 spot heading into Saturday’s additional rounds of qualifying.
“Our Traxxas team came out to Norwalk and we have a pretty good race car so far this weekend,” Force said. “The first run put us in the No. 5 spot with a 4.096. We made two solid passes right out of the box with all eight candles lit and we’re feeling good right now.”
After the first qualifying session, the Traxxas team had top speed in the Funny Car category with their run at 314.68 mph.
“We were able to come out tonight with cooler conditions and we were able to improve with a 4.029 second pass at 319.75 mph. With the great conditions, a lot of cars were running fast and we got bumped down one spot to No. 6. All in all, we’re happy to stay in the top half of the field going into tomorrow and I’m really proud of my team. We’re pumped up and excited to see if we can push it harder and move up in the field,” Force said.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car were right beside Courtney Force in the final qualifying run of Friday. They finished the day with the No. 8 qualifying position on the strength of their 4.040 second run at 320.05 mph. Hight also had a strong first run to start the day with a 4.11 second pass. The 2008 runner-up has only qualified in the bottom half of the field one time at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
“Today was a good start for the Auto Club team. We made two clean runs down the track. We stepped up in the night session and we will get another shot tomorrow night. This is cool to race twice late at night in these cool conditions. It will be a good show for the fans and then on Sunday it will be interesting to see who can figure out racing during the day. I have a lot of confidence in Mike Neff and this Auto Club team,” said Hight, a 34-time Funny Car winner.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 3rd at 4.019 seconds, 320.20 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 8th at 4.040 seconds, 320.05 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 6th at 4.029 seconds, 319.75 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 2nd at 3.755 seconds, 325.92mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q2)
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Saturday, July 4
3rd round qualifying 5:45 PM
4th round qualifying 8:30 PM
Sunday, July 5
Final Eliminations 11:00 AM