J. FORCE, HIGHT LIGHT UP QUALIFYING AT QUICK SONOMA NATIONALS
SONOMA, CA – At the conclusion of the first day of qualifying at the Sonoma NHRA Nationals John Force sits No. 3 and teammate Robert Hight sits No. 5, provisionally. There will be two more qualifying sessions tomorrow where both drivers are in prime position to earn more qualifying bonus points and put their Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Cars in position to go rounds on race day.
John Force and the Blue Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car opened up qualifying posting the 9th quickest run of the session, 4.071 seconds at 294.82 mph. Force’s Funny Car was down on speed when you consider it lost a blower belt early but still charged to the finish line with a respectable 4.0 elapsed time.
In the second session Force was one of earlier pairs and his stout run of 3.970 seconds at 322.96 mph put him at the top of the qualifying order but also showed how strong the track was for his fellow competitors.
“It shut off a little bit early but we will take it. The brain trust is working together every day. There are a lot of threes coming out there. There are some heavyweights coming up behind us like Robert Hight in that Auto Club Chevy. That was a pretty good run for this Blue Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro,” said Force, who ran the 12th three second run of his career.
Three pairs after Force ran to the top of the field teammate Robert Hight rolled the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car up to the starting line beside Alexis DeJoria. Both drivers blasted off the starting line and crossed the finish line lighting up the scoreboard with identical elapsed times of 3.974 seconds. This was only the second time a pair of Funny Cars had run side by side three second runs. Hight earned the higher qualifying position based on speed, 322.96 to 320.13 mph.
Hight’s improved performance was a step up from his first qualifying session run of 4.016 which was the second quickest of the session. After that run Hight spoke of the importance of a quick start and being aggressive.
“Before you can make a good run tonight you have to take advantage of that first session. Mike Neff and the whole Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro team did a great job. Neff said coming into this we needed to get more aggressive and do a better job on our first qualifying run. A+ to the team and it is going to be fun tonight,” said Hight, who sits in the No. 10 position in the Funny Car point standings.
Courtney Force currently occupies the No. 11 spot going into Saturday’s qualifying sessions at Sonoma Raceway. The team posted a 4.106 elapsed time at 305.15 mph to jump to the top pf the pack, but by the end of the first session, Funny Car teams were running in the 3.0’s.
“The Traxxas team came out here to the race track where we’re hoping to defend our title on Sunday,” said the 2014 Sonoma NHRA Nationals event winner. “We love coming out here to Sonoma right in the middle of the western swing. It’s always been a great track for our Traxxas team. We went out in round one and we were one of the early cars in the session. We ended up running a 4.10 in the heat which was a solid number to get us in the field. It put us in the No. 11 spot.
“In Q2 we came up hoping to improve,” Force said. “Obviously the conditions were excellent, but we weren’t aggressive enough and it blew the tires off at the hit. We’re going to get after it again tomorrow and keep pushing this Traxxas team until we can get some good runs and pick up some of those bonus points. Right now we have our car qualified. Tomorrow we’ll try to improve our time and just work on consistency.”
The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and Brittany Force had a tough first day and will be looking to bounce back on Saturday. In the first session Force’s 10,000 hp Top Fuel dragster dropped a cylinder early in the run forcing the dragster across the center line in spite of a valiant effort by Force to keep the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster in her lane. That run was disallowed and she was the first dragster in the second session.
Force was paired with veteran driver Troy Buff in the final session of the day and the Monster Energy dragster smoked the tires at about 100 feet while Force pedaled it and regained control powering across the finish line with a time of 4.419 seconds, which was the 15th quickest of the day and will not carry over to Saturday.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Blue DEF Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 3rd at 3.970 seconds, 322,96 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 5th at 3.974 seconds, 320.13 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 11th at 4.106 seconds, 305.15 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 15th quickest at 4.419 seconds, 258.96 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
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Saturday, August 1
3rd Qualifying 1:45 PM
4th Qualifying 5:00 PM
Sunday, August 2
Final Eliminations 11:00 AM