COURTNEY FORCE No. 1 ON FRIDAY OF AAA TEXAS FALLNATIONALS
ENNIS, TX – Courtney Force made a good pass to kick off qualifying at the Texas Motorplex today when she drove her Traxxas Ford Mustang down the track to put a 4.131 ET at 310.70 mph on the board. She rocketed to the second-fastest speed of the first session at 310.70 mph behind only her father, John Force at 314.24 mph.
In the second qualifying session, team Traxxas made a 4.039 second run at 314 mph, a Texas Motorplex track record in Funny Car for both ET and speed. This season alone, the 26-year-old has posted top speed in eight of 17 races and has the fastest speed in Funny Car history at 1,000 feet of 325.37 mph (Las Vegas).
“I knew going into this race I was feeling confident; we had a good car. But to go up there and go to the No. 1 spot for our Traxxas team and run a number like that, a 4.039 and it’s even cool that Alexis (DeJoria) is right behind me in the No. 2 spot, so it’s just a good weekend so far. We still have tomorrow. I’m excited and proud of my team,” said Force.
The Motorplex is the site of Force’s second ever career No. 1 qualifying effort. Earlier this season, she won the 100th NHRA pro race by a woman at Topeka. She has a total of five career wins, the most by any woman in Funny Car history.
“We’ll be focusing on keeping this car consistent and picking up bonus points round after round, that’s going to be our main goal tomorrow, but also to qualify in the top half so I don’t have to face my teammates in round one like I had to do last weekend. Our focus is the Countdown, this is race two and we definitely need to turn things around this weekend,” said Force.
Last weekend in Charlotte for the Pep Boys Carolina Nationals, Force qualified in the top half of the field, but unfortunately got paired up with her father in the first round of eliminations. She was ousted by the 16-time champion after making her best pass of the weekend beside him.
“I think this Traxxas team got things pulled together since last weekend. Although we went out in the first round, I took it as a positive after seeing what we ran. It was our quickest pass of the weekend in Charlotte,” said Force.
“We need consistency; to not make little mistakes, keep this car dead shallow, that’s my job going up there round after round. Luckily not having to worry about it tomorrow I can continue to go in shallow next to these guys because I won’t be competing in elimination rounds from Charlotte. Our Traxxas team is looking to pick up points throughout qualifying and stay consistent so we can continue to be consistent on Sunday,” said Force.
“It definitely drives a little bit different than what I’m used to, but little changes can feel like a whole lot,” said the 26-year-old whose team introduced a new Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car to the competition beginning in Indy. “For the most part I like it. Ever since it went down and made some good runs, you really can’t dislike a car. It’s been good to me so far. It’s been a lot more consistent than what we’ve had in the past. It definitely gives our team a whole new outlook and a big boost of confidence.”
John Force’s 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang thundered down the iconic Texas Motorplex. This weekend’s race is also a “Double Header” and the 16-time NHRA Mellow Yello Champion has the potential to “Double Up” this weekend and win two Wallys, as he races to a potential 17th NHRA world title. With last weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals finals scheduled to be run this Saturday, and the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals eliminations on Sunday, John Force is ready to be victorious and make history.
By the end of today’s qualifying sessions, John Force ended up in the top half of the field, sitting in the number five spot with a strong 4.081 second run at 314.24, the second quickest run of the first round of qualifying.
It was on Force’s first qualifying run that he turned in his best performance of the day, as he was lined up with teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight. Both of their nitro-fueled Mustangs charged off the starting line, with John motoring right on down the track, crossing the finish line first with a solid 4.081 second run at 314.24 mph. This stout opening pass put the reigning NHRA Funny Car champ in the No. 2 spot. He also picked up two additional NHRA Mello Yello bonus points.
During the second session, the weather conditions began to cool down and the track conditions improved. Crew Chief Jimmy Prock, who likes to swing for fences and really hop up the already potent Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang, wanted to make sure he didn’t get too aggressive and overpower the concrete surface of the Texas Motorplex.
“We saw Courtney (Force) run a 4.03 right before us on that second session and so we don’t want to run the same, we want to run quicker, but we didn’t get away with it. We know where we’re at for tomorrow, as we are running the eliminations from the Charlotte race and it’s the beginning of the Countdown. I have to get my frame of mind right back there; it’s the way I set up my goals. My goal is to win Charlotte and now I get to do that tomorrow. I’m excited but I wished we could have ran it off at Bruton Smith’s track, he built the “Bellagio” of drag strips, but there was a little hiccup but they’re the best in the country in racing and what they invest in and we’re all proud of them. We wish we were there with them but we’re going to give the Charlotte show right here in Texas,” said John Force.
Force’s Funny Car was on a strong run as his Mustang catapulted off the starting line, but just past the 300-foot mark, it began to lose traction and then suffered mechanical issues. The 8000-horsepower BOSS 500 engine went silent and the time was a less than stellar 6.729 second run at 97.77 mph.
“We weren’t going after a track record, we were just trying to run what we thought it would run and for some reason, it smoked the tires on that spot on the track which it’s never done before. The clutch also didn’t wear like we wanted it to and it messed the run up,” said Jimmy Prock.
With two more qualifying runs tomorrow, along with eliminations for the rescheduled NHRA Carolina Nationals, the Castrol GTX High Mileage team will be ready and so will the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“Everything that ever went wrong for us was in Dallas in 2007 and all my bad luck went with it. So yeah, I got good luck when I came here (Texas Motorplex) with Traxxas, winning it in 2012 and again this year at Indy. So tomorrow, I’m going to try and win Charlotte in Dallas, Texas,” said John Force.
The AAA Texas Funny Car driven by Robert Hight was focused today on getting down both lanes and setting up a race day combination for tomorrow’s qualifying and simultaneous elimination rounds. Due to the postponement of the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals Hight will race Jeff Arend during the third qualifying session.
“There is a race to win tomorrow. We got down the track both runs today so we will look at the lanes for tomorrow and we have lane choice. I am excited about hopefully getting the first win of the Countdown but Jeff Arend will be a tough opponent,” said Hight, the provisional No. 9 qualifier on Friday.
In the first round of qualifying Hight was the fifth quickest Funny Car posting an elapsed time of 4.101 seconds. In the second session Hight’s AAA Texas logoed Ford Mustang Funny Car stepped up in elapsed time, 4.088 seconds, but slipped back a few slot in the qualifying order.
After two qualifying sessions, Brittany Force drove her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster to the 17th quickest time today. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year is looking to rebound this weekend after a tough first round loss last weekend, and is primed to go rounds this Sunday.
“It was definitely difficult going out in round one in Charlotte, as it was the first race of the Countdown. But at this point, the Castrol EDGE team has no place to go but up, and that’s exactly our attitude this weekend. I really believe that having a positive attitude is extremely important and I’m confident we’ll fight our way back up the ladder,” said Brittany Force.
In the opening session, Brittany’s dragster experienced a mechanical problem at the hit of the throttle and put a cylinder out. Wisely, Brittany immediately shut down the engine, as raw fuel was coming out of the exhaust pipes. The run was a disappointing 9.083 second run as her race car coasted across the finish line at 48.77 mph. It had Brittany in the No. 19 spot, but the always optimistic Brittany knew her crew, led by Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli, would be able to tune-up the Castrol EDGE Dragster for the second qualifying session.
When it came time for the second session, Brittany’s crew was still trying to get a handle on the changing weather and track conditions. As the Christmas tree flashed green, Brittany’s Castrol EDGE Dragster fired off the starting line but got into trouble around the 660-foot mark and could only manage a 4.319 second run at 186.95 mph.
“It’s been a tough day, it’s been a tough few races but I told my guys that we will keep a positive attitude and when that happens, we work better as a team and the car just runs better. On that last session, my Castrol EDGE Dragster was a handful when I hit the throttle. It was probably one of the wildest rides I’ve had in my career yet, it was insane. I know my guys made some changes to the steering from last week and they tightened it up a little bit, so I probably over-steered on that run. I have to put more pressure on the steering wheel to get the car to do what I want but once it starts going, look out, it’s all over the place,” Brittany Force.
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JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 5th at 4.081 seconds at 314.24 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 9th at 4.088 seconds at 312.13 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 1st at 4.039 seconds at 314.90 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q2)
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 17th quickest at 4.319 seconds at 186.95 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
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Saturday, September 20
Nitro Qualifying Session 3/Charlotte quarter-finals 12:00 p.m.
Nitro Qualifying Session 4/Charlotte semi-finals 3:30 p.m.
Charlotte Top Fuel and Funny Car Finals 4:45 p.m.
Sunday, September 21
Final Eliminations 11 a.m.