JOHN FORCE WINS TRAXXAS SHOOTOUT AGAIN PRIMED FOR U.S. NATIONALS TOMORROW
INDIANAPOLIS – John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang to victory in the time NHRA Mello Champion faced fellow teammate and son-in law Robert Hight in the final round and ran a solid 4.061 second pass at 317.19 mph to Robert’s slightly off-pace 4.178 second run at 304.32 mph. This was John’s second Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory as he won the inaugural event in 2012. This was also John’s eighth victory in an NHRA all-start bonus event and earned $100,000 for the win today.
“I want to thank the fans for sticking this out, it was a killer crowd last night and today and we need these crowds as they stayed with us all did with on again and off again rain. I also want to thank the driver and the teams in our sport and also NHRA, Mello Yello and Mike Jenkins from Traxxas for putting up the money. They do such a fantastic job putting on these events. We’ve been working hard all week and putting in long hours but that what it takes. My granddaughter Autumn wanted her daddy (Robert Hight) to win but I promised her if I won, her grandpa would give her the trophy. It was a win-win situation for us going into the Traxxas final, we couldn’t lose,” said John Force.
Going into Monday’s final eliminations, John will race from the top half of the field from the No. 8 spot. Unfortunately, he will once again face his teammate Hight in the opening round due to Robert qualifying No. 9. Both drivers have identical 4.042 second elapsed times but Force gets the better position based on miles per hour 319.75 mph to 316.15 mph.
“I was mentally all screwed up the last couple of days. I got so confused going up against Capps last night in that Brainerd final. We pulled the car back to make the show but it has a personality but it didn’t on that run with Capps and we lost. Then today against Wilkerson in the opening round of the Traxxas Shootout, I asked Jimmy (Prock, crew chief) ‘how are we going to race it, we got whipped yesterday and we still didn’t qualify and we’re not in now,’ that’s why I got confused on what sessions counted and what sessions didn’t and we thought the final session counted and not the other but we got the Traxxas win and the money. I wanted to three-peat but I’ll never get Brainerd back but all-in-all, the fans are great to us,” said John Force.
For crew Jimmy Prock, the weekend has been challenging in tuning the 8000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang. With five qualifying sessions mixed in with a rescheduled final round matchup and the Traxxas Shootout, a lot of factors come into play when setting up the engine, clutch and chassis during the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
“The car didn’t run very well in the final last night with Capps, the engine was down on power. The temps were warmer today and we adjusted for that and going into the final, Hight’s crew and us just adjust to the conditions,” said Jimmy Prock
With 233 final round appearances, John Force is chasing win number 142. A Funny Car title win at the NHRA U.S. Nationals would be John’s fifth at this prestigious event and his 79th victory behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang. This would eclipse the record legendary Blue Oval Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden and make John Force the winningest Ford backed driver in history.
In the opening session of the day Robert Hight blasted past Cruz Pedregon for a first round win in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and he also solidified his qualifying spot at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. He posted a 4.042 second run at 316.15 mph. He will go into race day as the No. 9 qualifier and will race John Force. Hight is 2-1 against Force this season beating him in the final round of Gainesville and Denver.
“Tomorrow will be a tough race but whoever wins first round will be the No. 1 seed going into the Countdown. That is a big deal. I have changed my approach to racing him. He has won everything multiple times so you know he is never nervous. He has done it all. I want to get some of his records so I just put the pressure out of my mind and go up there relaxed and ready to go,” said Hight, the defending U.S. Nationals winner.
Hight lost the Traxxas Shootout final on Saturday to Force when a magneto went out on the Auto Club Ford Mustang killing the power to one of the ignition switch and robbing Hight’s Mustang of some much needed power. The first time specialty race finalist was philosophical about the loss.
“John Force Racing won today so that is what matters. The money all goes to the same place. I knew when I hit the throttle we were in trouble. We just didn’t have enough power. I don’t know if we would have outrun him but it would have been a lot closer. It was a big win for our team and a nice boost to the moral going into Monday’s race,” said Hight.
Today was a better day for Courtney Force and her Traxxas Ford Mustang team. The third-year driver came into Sunday’s events not qualified in the top twelve and starting from scratch on their qualifying runs.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking coming into today with the Traxxas Nitro Shootout coming up and having a car that was not yet qualified in the field. We wanted to get down there and we wanted to make a decent run for our qualifying efforts and we wanted to go after that $100,000. Our Traxxas team got this car put together and we had run a 4.10 the day before so we knew it was capable of making a pretty good pass,” said Force.
Force staged her Traxxas Ford alongside Brainerd winner Ron Capps in the fourth qualifying session which also posed as the first round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car. Being Force’s sponsor’s race, the pressure was on. The 26-year-old took down the veteran driver without an issue, posting a 4.005 ET at 322.73 mph to Capps’ 4.043 ET at 319.37 mph. Force’s 322.73 is also the track speed record for Funny Car at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianpolis.
“We tuned it up a little and we were able to take down Capps in the first round of the Traxxas Shootout, which was kinda nice. He beat my dad last night and it was cool to get the win today over him, especially since he’s got such a good hotrod out there. It’s nice to be able to outrun him. After that round, knowing we were qualified and set the track speed record which was the run that put us in the top half of the field in the No. 3 spot made us feel good and helped us to move forward and focus on the second round,” said Force.
Force moved on to face her teammate and brother-in-law Robert Hight in the next round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the fifth and final qualifying session of the weekend. It was a pedal fest when both cars had trouble getting a full pull down the race track. Force posted a 5.374 ET at 162.31 to Hight’s 4.768 ET at 264.08 mph.
”We weren’t able to get around Robert, our car went up and spun the tires, but we’re going to learn from it and look at the positives, the fact that we had two good runs down this race track.
“I really wanted to get that win for Traxxas. It would have been exciting for my team since they are my primary sponsor, but luckily two of our John Force Racing cars went to the final round and my dad was able to get the win. A big thank you to Traxxas for bringing back the excitement of Indy, having the race within a race and bringing back the chance for that big $100,000 paycheck. Thank you to them and we look forward to hopefully getting it next year,” said Force.
Force’s 4.005 ET from the fourth qualifying session will line her up to race Bob Tasca III in the first round of eliminations. This will be the 12th time the two have matched up in eliminations, the third time this season and the seventh time they have squared off in the first round. Force is 9-2 to Tasca in previous events.
“We have a tough competitor in the first round against Tasca. It’s the U.S. Nationals, it’s all tough. We’re excited and we’re ready for it and we’re hoping for a good race tomorrow,” said Force.
Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Dragster will race from the top half of the field during Monday’s final eliminations at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year qualified in seventh position with a solid run of 3.786 seconds at 328.30 mph. Force will face Larry Dixon in the opening round and is looking for revenge as she lost a close race to him just two weeks ago in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Having secured a birth in the Countdown to the Championship, Brittany Force would like to go rounds tomorrow and make another trip to the finals. The sophomore Top Fuel driver and the Castrol EDGE team has improved dramatically during this season under the guidance of Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli.
“We know the conditions we qualified in today will be the same as tomorrow’s eliminations. Todd Smith and Guido Antonelli are working on tuning the car and getting it to run in these conditions come Monday. On our first run today, it hazed the tires so my guys made some adjustments. On our final qualifying session, the Castrol EDGE dragster ran a 3.856 and was on a good pass until something broke just before the finish line. We ran that great 3.78 pass on Saturday night but we’re not going to see those conditions tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.
With this being Brittany’s second U.S. Nationals racing in Top Fuel, she’s just a pumped as she was during her rookie season. She knows her car is capable of winning this historic race and would like to claim the first Top Fuel victory for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing at the historic “Big Go” NHRA U.S. Nationals.
“It’s definitely still exciting and it will be years from now just because it’s out biggest race of the season and it’s Indy. I remember coming out here and watching my dad win the Big Bud Shootout and other bonus races. It’ll always be the biggest race of the season and it’s the one we look forward to all year. There’s so much going on, I love it and I’m excited to be out here and we’re hoping to go some rounds and win this tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.
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JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 8th at 4.042 seconds at 319.75 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Robert Hight (15-16)
ROBERT HIGHT, 44, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 9th at 4.042 seconds at 318.24 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): John Force (16-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 4.005 seconds at 322.73 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Bob Tasca III (9-2)
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 7th at 3.786 seconds at 328.30 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Larry Dixon (0-1)