FORCE HAS CHAMPIONSHIP IN SIGHT HEADING TO MAPLE GROVE
READING, PA (September 30, 2015) --- With four races left in the 2015 season John Force and the Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team have their eyes on the prize. Coming out of the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals Force raced to a quarter-final finish and managed to hang onto 5th place in the Mello Yello point standings. The 16-time champion knows he will need to start winning races if he has a chance to chase down points leader Del Worsham over the next six weeks.
“The Funny Cars are running together like Pro Stock. A lot of it is made up on the starting line. I am working on my own reaction times. I am just working on getting better. The key is we have four races and there are a lot of rounds still out there. We’ll see what happens,” said Force after the St. Louis race.
“I said it on TV I will be ready for the Countdown and if you look at the leaps and jumps in performance we have made in making these cars faster we are right there. When other teams run in the threes we are right there in the threes with them. We aren’t on their pace yet but it isn’t just one team you look out there and there are four or five teams running in the threes and we are right in the mix. We have four races left and we need those Chevrolet engineers to keep working with us.”
Force has a long history of success at Maple Grove Raceway most notably a win at the Keystone Nationals that kick started his most recent championship run. In 2013 Force qualified No. 1 and then took out Jeff Arend, Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Chad Head on the way to victory.
“Maple Grove is a great place to race and especially in the Countdown. This weekend will be important because we need to make some moves. We are right there with the competition but I need to get my Peak Chevrolet Camaro in the winner's circle,” said Force. “The key will be getting off to a fast start on Friday with all three of these John Force Racing Chevys and that Monster Energy dragster.”
The Keystone Nationals marks the halfway point of the Countdown. Force has had success at all four remaining tracks including Maple Grove but it will come down to performance and some luck. Over the first two races Force has started in the top half of the qualifying order but has still faced tough competition in the first round. In St. Louis it was teammate and fellow Countdown competitor Robert Hight. This weekend Force knows his team will have to continue to performance and he will have to continue to do his job on the starting line.
“No one is out of this championship yet. A good race in Reading gets you right back into the middle of this Countdown. Momentum is great but really you just need consistency. The weather will be cool and we need to run quick and we can do that. (Crew chief) Jon Schaffer is giving me a good race car and I am working on getting better on the tree,” added Force.
MAPLE GROVE PERFECT PLACE FOR ROBERT HIGHT AND AUTO CLUB CHEVY TEAM
READING, PA (September 30, 2015) --- Maple Grove Raceway is the perfect stop for Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car team to get their performance mojo back. Heading into the Countdown Hight was on a performance streak that saw the 2009 Funny Car champion win the Brainerd Lucas Oil Nationals and then grab two runner-up finishes at the biggest races of the year, the Traxxas Shootout and Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
“We got hot right when we needed to coming into the Countdown. I still think we have a chance for this championship. The key is to start getting hot in qualifying. We need to start races from one of the top four qualifying spots. That is easier said than done,” said Hight, who started the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals as the No. 9 qualifier.
Last weekend ten different drivers recorded times in the three second range, an NHRA record and Hight along with No. 10 qualifier Tim Wilkerson were three second runners that did not have lane choice in the first round of eliminations. At that race there were thirty three second runs eclipsing the previous record from Brainerd by seven runs. While Brainerd Internationals Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park are fine facilities they are not considered the performance playground that Maple Grove Raceway has long been on the NHRA tour.
“You look at the times we have been running at Topeka, Brainerd and then St Louis, who knows what you will see at Maple Grove. The conditions could be so good we could reset all the records we set last weekend. That could be good for a team like us if we can get some of those qualifying bonus points and make up some ground on the teams in front of us,” said Hight.
Coming into the Keystone Nationals as the No. 10 driver in points has Hight in unfamiliar territory but also he can draw on some experience from his championship season. In 2009 Hight raced from the No. 10 spot to the championship in basically five races, clinching his championship in Pomona simply by qualifying. This year there are four races and Hight has nine drivers between himself and another championship trophy.
“We weren’t as far back in the points in 2009 when we started our run but I think that experience gives me some hope that we aren’t out of this Countdown yet. I think we can get some momentum this weekend in Maple Grove and get around some people and then head to Dallas in a couple weeks and do the same thing. No one is hanging their head around here and we just want to be competitive and go some rounds. It has been a while since we got to the winner’s circle in Reading but both Mike and I have won this race,” said Hight.
Hight last won the Keystone Nationals in 2011 and he was runner up in his sophomore season (2006). The former crewman turned driver is looking to extend a streak that started his rookie year. Since Hight has been racing professionally he was won at least two NHRA Funny Car national events every season of his career. This weekend at the Keystone Nationals would be the perfect time to keep that streak alive and start reeling in his second Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car world championship.
BRITTANY FORCE RIDING HOT STREAK INTO COOL KEYSTONE NATIONALS
READING, PA (September 29, 2015) --- Over the course of the last four races Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team have a runner-up finish and two additional semi-final finishes. They have moved from ninth place to fourth place in the points and are legitimate championship contenders with four races left in the season. Force will return to Maple Grove Raceway this weekend where she raced to a runner-up finish last year. Last weekend Force raced from the No. 4 qualifying position to a semi-final finish before having her day ended by Top Fuel upstart Dave Connolly.
“The entire Monster Energy team came together last weekend in St Louis. We struggled two weekends ago just to get the car down the track in Charlotte but in St Louis we went down the track every single run. We made it to the semi-finals and that is a pretty good weekend for us. We moved up to the No. 4 position in the points and we are going to get after it in Reading in a couple days,” said Brittany Force, from her pit area.
For Force the return to Reading will be a chance for redemption and the opportunity to get her elusive first win. In 2014 she was the No. 2 qualifier and raced to the final round, the third of the season. Force took out Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton and Spencer Massey on the way to meeting Tony Schumacher in the final. She had lane choice and momentum but early tire smoke snatched the chance for victory from the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year.
“I was so ready to take Tony (Schumacher) down and thought we had it. It was such a bummer when my win light didn’t come on. My car went out there and shook and smoked the tires but I pedaled it and it did hook back up for a little while but he (Schumacher) was way ahead of me,” said Force, after the tough loss last year.
In her round before the final Force blasted down the track at 3.733 seconds at 329.91 mph. That performance was a career best in elapsed time and speed for her and was indicative of the power her team had built up to throughout last season. Force has continued to have performance success this season after a slow start.
Since Monster Energy came on board as the primary sponsor Force has recorded five semi-final finishes and two runner-ups finishes in one of the toughest Top Fuel classes in recent memory. While Force sits in the No. 4 position in the Top Fuel point standings she is only four points out of the No. 3 spot. The last time a woman finished higher than No. 4 in Top Fuel points was 33 years ago when legend Shirley Muldowney won the 1982 championship. Between then and now, Muldowney finished fourth in 1983, Lori Johns finished fourth in 1990, Melanie Troxel finished fourth in 2006 and Hillary Will finished fourth in 2008.
COURTNEY FORCE CHASING FIRST WIN AT QUICK MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY
READING, PA (September 30, 2015) --- With four races left in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello season, Courtney Force is eager to get her eighth career Funny Car win at one of her favorite race tracks on the circuit. The 27-year-old Funny Car pilot has never qualified lower than No. 5 at Maple Grove Raceway and she’s hoping that works in her favor at the 31st NHRA Keystone Nationals this weekend.
Last year, Force qualified in the No. 5 position with a 4.008 second pass at She lined up beside veteran driver Jeff Arend and both cars smoked the tires, causing a pedal fest to the finish line. Arend took the win and the 27-year-old was left to cheer on her teammates.
“The Keystone Nationals are by far one of the quickest tracks on the circuit. We always have prime conditions in Reading because the air is so great and the track surface is one of the best we run on all year. It's always exciting coming back here because you know this is where drivers and teams break national records. This year I hope it's our team.”
“Our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team has always qualified well at Maple Grove Raceway, but we have struggled in the past on race day. We always see prime racing conditions at this race track and after making our career-best pass last weekend in St. Louis, I'm confident we’ll continue to show improvement this weekend. It’s hard telling what qualifying and race day will have in store for us, but we’re ready. Hopefully we can get a strong start and go rounds on race day,” Force said.
The winningest female in Funny Car history is still looking for her first win this season. Last weekend at Gateway International Raceway for the 4th Annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Force secured the No. 7 qualifying spot with a career-best 3.953 second pass at 325.30 mph.
“Our goal for the rest of this season is to go after a win and we have four races to do so. We've had a lot of ups and downs this year, but I think our car has definitely shown some consistency lately throughout qualifying, but we’ve definitely been lacking the luck needed on race day. We have made huge strides since the start of the season so I feel a win is coming soon for our team,” Force said.
The 2012 Auto Club Road to the Future award winner for NHRA’s top “Rookie of the Year” has qualified for every national event in her Funny Car career. She has started from the front of the Funny Car field nine times and has raced her way to fourteen final rounds with her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team.
“The John Force Racing teams have broken several records in the past, but it’s so competitive these days with teams making such huge advances in speed and elapsed time that it’s more challenging now for drivers (to break records), but that also is part of what makes it so exciting for the fans. We’re just excited to get on the track and see what happens this weekend,” Force said.