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CONCORD, NC ---- On a newly resurfaced track with a truncated qualifying session John Force Racing was facing an uphill battle along with the rest of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams at the 6th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. The teams came out strong in qualifying grabbing the No.1 and No. 2 spots in Funny Car on the strength of Traxxas backed Courtney’s Force’s 4.011 second and John Force’s 4.040 second runs on Saturday in their Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Cars. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Camaro were not too far off the pace with a No. 7 qualifying position.

“I never feel like I am at a disadvantage because (crew chief) Mike Neff and this team give me a great race car. Neff and these guys are great on race day and we are moving on. We have won this race twice and I have a lot of confidence. We have had to battle the weather and some really cold temperatures. No one was complaining because every team is dealing with the same issues,” said Hight, who sits No. 5 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings just nine points out of fourth place.

In the first round John Force and Robert Hight were paired up in the same quartet of drivers with Alexis DeJoria and two-time world champion Tony Pedregon. Hight and his Auto Club Camaro made the quickest run of the first session with a winning ET of 4.027 seconds at 304.05 mph. He was followed across the finish line by his teammate John Force in the white Chevy bowtie emblazoned Camaro who posted a time of 4.250 seconds at 278.69 mph. Force’s Funny Car engine back-fired at the top end erupting in a moderate sized ball of fire and was quickly extinguished by the NHRA Safety Safari.

“I set this Camaro on fire in the first round and I nearly tipped it over that run (in second round). It was like the old days. We won championships with Chevrolet in the early days and we’ll get back there this year,” said John Force, a 141-time national event winner.

Both drivers advanced to the next round and a tough match-up with Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr awaited the pair. All four Funny Cars lit the pre-stage lights and as the four drivers staged it was Robert Hight jumping the tree and suffering a rare disqualification at the hands of red-light.

Force’s Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car hazed the tires at about 200 feet and the duo had to watch as Beckman, the eventual event winner, and Johnson pulled away to advance to the final round of racing,

“There were a combination of things working this weekend. Bruton and Marcus Smith put a lot of money into this race track. The track surface is still new because it doesn’t have that many runs on it. You have four lanes and you have to pick which ones you want to run. It is equal for everybody but it makes it tough on the crew chiefs. The fans were great today and yesterday was fantastic. I am excited Brittany is going rounds,” said Force after the second round.

Fourth year Funny Car driver Courtney Force went up in smoke in the first round of eliminations, but made the best of her weekend at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals by qualifying in the No. 1 spot for the second time this season and picking up three bonus points to help move her up the ladder in the 2015 Funny Car point standings.

“It was an exciting weekend out here at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. We had lane choice in the first round. We originally picked lane four and we swapped for lane three after we saw a couple cars ahead of us go up in smoke. After we made that change, the car still smoked the tires in lane three. I pedaled it; tried to get it down there, but two of the other cars in lanes one and two had already crossed the finish line and turned on the win light,” said Force.

The 26-year-old took her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car straight to the top of the Funny Car field with a 4.011 ET in only the second qualifying pass on Saturday after both of Friday’s sessions were canceled due to inclement weather conditions.

“We only ended up getting two qualifying passes this weekend due to rain, but our Traxxas Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car ended up in the top spot with a 4.011 after qualifying was complete and we came into race day pretty pumped,” said Force.

For third year driver Brittany Force it was another day of positive improvement behind the wheel of her JFR Next Generation Top Fuel dragster. Even though Force has not reached the winner’s circle yet her driving skills have improved with every race in her young career.

In the first round her dragster began smoking the tires but Force let off the gas and let the 10,000 horsepower dragster settle down before getting back on the throttle to get the round win. It was a savvy veteran reaction and one that Force took pride in after the fact.

“We had to run in a new lane in the first round but we got the round win. I was able to pedal it and that is something I have been working on. I am proud I was able to pedal it so well and get the win for the team,” said Force, who held onto her Top Ten spot.

Force’s winning time of 5.041 seconds was nowhere near a record but round wins matter in the tough Top Fuel category. Fellow Lucas Oil backed driver Richie Crampton advanced with Force to the second round.

“This is just the fourth race of the season and as long as you stay in the Top Ten that is the focus. You can start worrying about wins when the Countdown starts. You want to be in the Top Ten and start moving up in the Countdown. I am proud of my entire team. It was a challenge out here. It was tough for the crew chiefs and the drivers with this Four-Wide format and we lost two rounds of qualifying.”

The JFR Next Generation dragster was ousted in the quarterfinals when it fell victim to tire shake on the launch. Force had to watch as Crampton and his Lucas Oil dragster advanced along with veteran Clay Millican.

“In the second round it wasn’t our turn. It shook pretty hard and I tried to pedal it a couple times. I knew it wasn’t going to get going again and I could see the three other dragsters pulling away for me. We are going to pack up and head to Las Vegas,” concluded Force.

* * * *


FUNNY CAR – 1. Del Worsham, 305; 2. Matt Hagan, 303; 3. Ron Capps, 279; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr, 239; 5. Robert Hight, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, 230; 6. John Hale, 224; 7. Jack Beckman, 208; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 206; 9. Courtney Force, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 198; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 193; 11. Chad Head, 188; 12. Tim Wilkerson, 177; 13. John Force, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 169

TOP FUEL – 1. Antron Brown, 354; 2. Tony Schumacher, 328; 3. Shawn Langdon, 312; 4. Spencer Massey, 286; 5. Doug Kalitta, 238; 6. Richie Crampton, 232; 7. Steve Torrence, 213; 8. Brittany Force, JFR Next Generation dragster, 192; 9. Clay Millican, 189; 10. JR Todd, 180

PRO STOCK – 1. Jason Line, 339; 2. Roger Brogdon, 316; 3. Greg Anderson, 299; 4. Chris McGaha, 283; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, 268; 6. Drew Skillman, 266; 7. Larry Morgan, 234; 8. Shane Gray, 199; 9. Vincent Nobile, 193; 10. Allen Johnson, 176

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - 1. Eddie Krawiec, 192; 2. Andrew Hines, 180; 3. Karen Stoffer, 148; 4. LE Tonglet, 128; 5. Hector Arana Jr, 116; 6T. Shawn Gann, 103; 6T. Angelle Sampey, 103; 6T. Scotty Pollacheck, 103; 9. Matt Smith, 94; 10. Hector Arana, 88


JOHN FORCE, 65, Chevrolet Camaro SS

Final Qualifying: 2nd at 4.040 seconds, 309.98 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q1)

First Round Results: Advanced with Robert Hight, Beat Tony Pedregon, and Alexis DeJoria

Second Round Results: Lost to Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr

ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS

Final Qualifying: 7th at 4.061 seconds, 308.07 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: 0

First Round Results: Advanced witih John Force, Beat Tony Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria

Second Round Results: Lost to Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr

COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS

Final Qualifying: 1st at 4.011 seconds, 312.35 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q2)

First Round Results: Lost to Chad Head, Del Worsham, and Dale Creasy Jr.

BRITTANY FORCE, 28, JFR Next Generation Top Fuel Dragster

Final Qualifying: 10th at 3.826 seconds, 318.32 mph

Bonus Qualifying Points: 0

First Round Results: Advanced with Richie Crampton, Beat Pat Dakin, Chris Karamesines

Second Round Results: Lost to Richie Crampton, Clay Millican, Tony Schumacher


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