JOHN FORCE No. 1 ON FRIDAY AT TOYOTA NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, NV – On Halloween evening, John Force showed the race fans, and the competition, that when he’s not afraid of the competition that might impede his quest for another NHRA Mello Yello world championship. He also proved to his rival drivers that when he’s backed into a corner, he’ll come out swinging – and that’s exactly what he did today during qualifying at the NHRA Toyota Nationals. The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello champion raced the No. 1 spot with a stout 4.039 second run at 318.54 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage American In Made Mustang during the second session. Force blazed The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and dispelled any rumors that he may be distracted and not have his head in the game.
It was during that second qualifying run that Force was lined up with arch rival Matt Hagan and as both machines blasted off the starting line, it was Force’s Mustang outrunning Hagan (4.03 to 4.04). Force also picked up three NHRA Mello Yello Bonus points. It was an intense run that looked more like a final round battle of a championship on the line.
“We took our car out there, it is a brain-trust that helped to put that 4.03 run together, my guys all work on my car know what it’s all about. Hopefully, we don’t spread ourselves too thin between the teams, that could hurt but we got down the track today and we feel pretty good. You got to get every point you can and when it get down to the end, every point counts. Hagan picked up a point and when it gets down to the end, every point counts. We’ll try to be low ET again but our 4.03 is pretty stout,” said John Force.
With only one race left in the 2014 Countdown to the Championship at the conclusion of this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals, John Force set aside the recent distractions within his racing dynasty and focused on what he does best, wrestling his 8000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang down the drag strip. The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello champ is in the hunt for another title and he knows each qualifying round in critical in regaining the points lead.
“I got my focus back and I got my head to where it needs to be and I feel really good. I love being out here and night qualifying at Vegas, it doesn’t get any better than this. Knowing I can stay in the game, along with my kids, I have nothing to complain about and now I can get back to racing. My heart is right today because I know where I’m going in the future. My heart will make me a good driver and win or lose, I know I gave it my all,” said John Force.
In the opening session, crew chief John Medlen wanted to get a baseline to see how much power the track would hold. At the flash of green off the Christmas tree, Force’s Mustang went right down the groove and turned in a solid 4.152 second run at 304.74 and ended in the No. 5 spot after the first round. Now Medlen and the team had valuable data to make adjustments to the Force’s Funny Car heading into the second qualifying session.
With two more qualifying runs tomorrow, the Castrol GTX High Mileage team will look to improve even and stay in the hunt by amassing points. They know it’s very important to run well in qualifying and get the race car dialed-in for Sunday’s eliminations. One slip-up this late in the game can end his chances of John Force claiming his 17th NHRA Mello Yello Championship but from we saw today, he’s in the hunt and not pulling the chutes.
The chance for Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team to chase down the four drivers in from of them in the Mello Yello point standings started today at the Toyota NHRA Nationals. While the team did not pick up any qualifying bonus points they did make two solid runs.
In the first session Hight’s 4.156 had him in the top eight and pleased with the team’s effort.
“With two races to go we need to get qualified and go rounds on Sunday. Bonus points are nice but the 20 points you get for a round win move you up the standings a lot faster. We came off the trailer and got some good data,” said Hight.
In the second session the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car was once again towards the back of the pack. Lined up beside Alexis DeJoria and her hot pink Patron Tequila Breast Cancer Awareness Funny Car Hight stepped up and posted an even better 4.089 second run at 316.52 mph. It has him solidly in the show in the No. 7 spot and he is focused on stepping up tomorrow with predicted improved conditions.
“It is supposed to be cooler tomorrow so the qualifying sheet could really get shaken up. We are going to look at our data and the run John made and put a game plan together. Neff has a great handle on this Auto Club Mustang and we had a good day today,” added Hight.
Courtney Force kicked off race No. 5 of 6 in the 2014 Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and raced into the top twelve in the Funny Car category. At the end of the day, she slid by the competition to place her Traxxas Ford Mustang strategically in the No. 12 spot going into Saturday’s additional qualifying runs.
“It’s been a good day out here in Vegas. We made a good pass on our first run. We went 4.16 and that got us in the top half of the field,” said Force.
Being in the top twelve at the end of qualifying on Friday is important because those cars are the only cars that get to keep their times going into Saturday; everyone else starts with a clean slate in Q3.
“We went out on the second qualifying pass looking to improve. All of our incremental times at the beginning of the run significantly improved so I know that we were on a good pass. The car started veering to the left and I made a slight correction that was a little bit too hard and it made the car spin the tires down track. We missed out on that Q2 run, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I think we’ve got a pretty good race car and can definitely learn off of these two runs. For now, it’s a great thing that we go in in the top twelve,” said Force.
Brittany Force’s Castrol EDGE dragster made two solid and consistent runs today during NHRA Toyota Nationals. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year has been itching to get back in the seat of her 10,000 horsepower missile and hit the strip. Brittany’s dragster also debut a new look this weekend that commemorates the one year anniversary of being chosen by motorsports media members for the prestigious NHRA Auto Club Road to the Future Award she received at the conclusion of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello season. The dragster design incorporates the look of a jet fighter and Force wanted to go with a more vintage, worn looking plane and highlights her 2013 crew.
Brittany’s best run today came on the second session as rocketed off the line and turned in a 3.893 second run at 314.90 mph. The good news is she improved from her earlier run of 3.939 at 264.34. The bad news is she lost a few spots in the qualifying order and ended the day in the No. 14 spot. For Brittany Force, it’s hard being out of the car for so long as she as to regain her focus of piloting the one of the fastest accelerating vehicles on the planet.
“It’s definitely a little difficult being out of the car for what seems like forever. Even though it’s been three weeks, it takes time for the entire team, especially me, to get back in the groove and our routines. I screwed up staging on the first qualifying session but I got it figured out by the second run. We also had cylinders out on both runs but we get two more qualifying runs tomorrow and we’ll just have to get things cleaned up and get the car down the track,” said Brittany Force.
With the new look of Brittany’s dragster, it has made the sophomore Top Fuel racer pumped up even more when she climbs in the cockpit and blasts down the drag strip.
“The car looks so awesome and our graphic designer at John Force Racing, Brandon Baker, took the vision I had and really brought it to life, more than I imagined. It’s awesome and it definitely looks like a fighter jet,” said Brittany Force.
The Castrol EDGE team will get two more shots down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and with the data crew chiefs Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli gather today, they’ll be able to make the necessary adjustment and step up the performance of Brittany’s dragster. With only two races in the Countdown, Brittany Force is focused on going rounds and winning her first Top Fuel race for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing.
“I’ve learned a lot during this second year and for me, it’s knowing my routine and being comfortable in the car. Things like learning how to stage shallow for qualifying runs, improving my reaction times and keeping the car in groove are starting to come natural to me and I wish I could race every weekend,” said Brittany Force.
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JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage American Pride Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 1st at 4.039 seconds at 31854 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q2)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 7th at 4.089 seconds at 316.52 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 12th at 4.160 seconds at 309.13 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Rookie of the Year Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 14th quickest at 3.893 seconds at 314.90 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0