COURTNEY FORCE No. 2 HEADED INTO SUNDAY
CHANDLER, AZ – The final day of qualifying at the 31st annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals saw incredibly quick times in Funny Car and further established the class as one of the most competitive in recent memory. Courtney Force’s 3.996 second pass on Friday was bumped back one spot by Matt Hagan’s 3.978 second run (fifth quickest run in history). Teammates John Force and Robert Hight will square off in an intra-team first round match-up as both drivers were quick and consistent but still wound up No. 7 and No. 10 respectively.
Courtney and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS team will race Shane Westerfield in the opening session. It will be the first time the four year veteran has faced Westerfield.
“I’m proud of my team and just looking forward to tomorrow. I think the most important thing is consistency here. We’re qualified second. We’ve got Shane Westerfield in round one. We’re just excited to get out there and hopefully get this Chevy Camaro SS going some rounds on race day,” said Force.
Force made a good run in Q3 and put a 4.034 on the board. This is the best qualifying effort the youngest Force daughter has had to date at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Before this weekend, Force’s best time at Phoenix was a 4.06 and her best qualifying spot was No. 3.
“We got a hotter track today for Q3 and it feels good to have this Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS Funny Car head down there. We were in the left lane. We paired up with Robert (Hight) for that qualifying pass and we made a pretty solid pass straight down the race track. Had all eight cylinders lit and ran a 4.03 still in the heat of the day. We were the second-quickest so we were able to pick up two point son that run,” said Force.
In the next session, the 26-year-old had a cylinder out and still posted a 4.055 ET. The team picked up a total of five qualifying bonus points over the weekend for being quickest of Q2 and second-quickest of Q3.
“We got qualified in the No. 2 spot this weekend. We were looking to improve in Q4 today and put another three second run on the board. Unfortunately our Traxxas Chevy Camaro slowed when we dropped a cylinder. It pulled me a little to the right. I tried to keep the car straight, but it still wasn’t enough. On seven cylinders we could still only pull off a 4.055 which is still an unbelievable run on only seven,” said Force.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS ran 4.056 and 4.046 seconds today but slipped two spots in the qualifying ladder. The 2014 CARQUEST Nationals runner-up will face teammate John Force in the first round. It will be a tough match-up for the 2009 Funny Car champion.
“You hate to race your teammate in the first round. We were consistent and no one is hanging their heads on this Auto Club Chevy team. We had a blower belt shred on one run and we were quick today. There were just a few cars that were quicker. There were races not too long ago where a 4.03 would have you easily in the top four. Now a 4.03 doesn’t even get you lane choice. It is tough out here and I will do my job tomorrow and I know John will be ready to race,” said Hight, the 2012 CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals champion.
The team leader, John Force, was also equally frustrated to be racing teammate in the first round. Force knows that with a new team and new equipment there will be some growing pains. The winningest driver in NHRA history also knows that sponsors expect to see win lights and as the consummate professional he wants to perform for them and the packed house at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
“We know how to run fast here in Phoenix. We tested out here and this is a great race track. I am little off but Courtney ran that 3.99 last night and we’ll get straightened out. We really want to flex our muscles because (Lucas Oil founder and namesake) Forrest Lucas is here with one of his rodeo buddies. For Peak, Auto Club, Chevy, Mac Tools and Traxxas we will put on a good show the rest of the day,” said Force, following his third qualifying session run.
In the final qualifying session Force and Hight were back and forth in the ladder but ironically Force’s 4.025 second pass moved him up just enough in the qualifying to set up a head to head JFR race. It was the fourth quickest run of the session which just missed earning Force one qualifying bonus point.
“Bottom line is we ran quicker here in testing and we all ran three second runs. Courtney was the only one that could muster that up so far this weekend. I ran 4.03, 4.04, 4.07 and 4.02 and those numbers are good enough to win just about any race. It is a shame I have to race Robert and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. I am going to go out there with Peak and do what I do. We’ll see what happens,” said Force.
“The people that run this track did a lot of work to make this place quick and fast for these hot rods. We have great air here so fans should expect to see the good numbers. We aren’t where we want to be but we have four brand new teams with brand new race cars,” concluded Force.
In the first round for JFR’s Top Fuel dragster last year’s runner-up Brittany Force will face the driver she defeated to reach her first career final round. Last year Force was the No. 10 qualifier and met Texan Steve Torrence in the semi-finals. Tomorrow the pair will race in the opening session with Force once again holding down the No. 10 qualifying spot to Torrence’s No. 7.
“I try not to focus too much on last year. I have to focus on today and right now. It is tough out here and we ended up No. 10. We were hoping to move up the ladder a little bit today but we got two decent runs in and we will be ready tomorrow. I know this team will put everything they can into this dragster and I will do my best job driving hopefully we’ll get that win in the first round and see where that takes us.”
Force has raced Torrence twice and has a 1-1 record versus the CAPCO Top Fuel dragster.