JOHN FORCE COLLECTS 2ND STRAIGHT NO. 1 IN DENVER
DENVER, CO – John Force and the Blue Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team collected their second consecutive and seventh overall No. 1 qualifier at the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals today as qualifying wrapped up at Bandimere Speedway. Force was quickest on the mountain last night posting a 4.015 second run and he also made the quickest run on Saturday an impressive 4.053 second run. This was Force’s 154th career No. 1 qualifier which is an NHRA all-time record.
“Well, when you run good, you stay at the end of the pack and you get in better conditions. We also saw what our other cars could do. Robert (Hight) ran a 4.08 and Courtney (Force) kind of led the way in a lane that was oiled. She ran that 4.12 or 4.13. We didn’t know, but it kept getting cooler and we said that this would not be the conditions we would run in tomorrow, not even in the evening if we make it to the final, but let’s see what it will do,” said Force to the Denver media. “(Crew chief) Jon Schaffer said to me, the kid is very savvy, ‘Don’t want to smoke the tires, let’s make it go A to B,’. And then it ran a 4.05, so the kid is doing really good. He, Mike Neff, and the whole team are doing great. I am starting to build my brain trust again and getting pretty excited about it.”
For the weekend Force picked up seven qualifying bonus points and is only 22 points behind the No. 4 driver in the Mello Yello point standings. Force will face John Hale for only the second time in his career. The two veterans met in the first round of the Gatornationals and Hale came away with the round win. Hale is the 138th different driver Force has faced in his career.
Force is continuing to mold a young crew and work through a number of new components to his championship caliber team.
“Well, a lot of it is mental. To come up here on this mountain when you have no data, and we have no data….in our clutch program, our motor program, and a lot of stuff that we are kind of hit and miss on. Then you face the altitude up here at Mile High. We thought if any track would throw us a curve, this would be it. But boy, Mike Neff rose to the plate,” said Force, a 143-time Funny Car winner. “(Monster Energy Top Fuel crew chief) Todd Smith and the dragster boys are in the hunt, so yes, it will build your confidence but you know if you get jacked up around that tomorrow you could get picked off by anybody. A guy tried to interview me down below, but I just thanked the fans because it is just unbelievable to see the track pack it Friday night and pack it Saturday night. That is pretty impressive. So to NHRA and Bandimere did their job. But I am excited because my sponsors that are out there like Chevrolet, like Blue Def, Traxxas, and Monster Energy who came on board – all these people know I have a game plan.”
In addition to Force’s top shelf consistency in the Blue Def Chevy Funny Car Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was also staying at the top of the Funny Car pack on Friday and Saturday. Hight was the third quickest of both the second and fourth qualifying sessions. He will go into race day as the No. 5 qualifier and will face former teammate Tony Pedregon in the first round. Hight has a career 12-15 record against Pedregon but he has won the last five meetings including two races this season.
“We had another good day today with the Auto Club Chevrolet. We were third quickest of the second session last night and we were third quickest of the last session. Those points are important but so are consistent runs,” said Robert Hight, a 34-time Funny Car winner. “I am confident about tomorrow and I think we have a good shot at defending our win from last season. I love racing here and we have had good luck. I won in my rookie season here and we have some momentum going into race day I think. You want to be in the top half of the field and we did that with the No. 5 qualifier.”
Last year Hight outran John Force in the final round to secure his third win at the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals. Hight’s previous two wins came in 2010 and 2005.
Courtney Force will line up her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car beside fellow female competitor Alexis DeJoria in the opening round of eliminations at the 36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. Force qualified in the No. 10 position with a 4.102 ET at 312.71 mph and will give up lane choice to start out the day.
“We qualified 10th with our run from yesterday. Obviously today we were looking to improve. In Q3 it went out and chattered the tires and we were out of it early. With the cooler track we were looking to improve on our 4.10 from yesterday. We ran a 4.14 and our speed was down to 298 mph because we dropped a hole early and just tried to keep it straight down the center of the groove to put any kind of better number on the board. But with that, we have a pretty good race car this weekend. We’ve had ups and downs and some stuff we still need to work out before tomorrow, but we’re going to regroup and our Traxxas team will be ready to go up against Alexis,” said Force.
Force is 6-4 against DeJoria in previous events, but they are 1-1 this season. DeJoria took the win in the first round in Las Vegas and Force scored in the second round in Houston. This will be the eighth time they have met in the first round of eliminations. Tomorrow will be the second time they have raced at Denver. Force took the win in the first round here in 2013.
“We’re excited. She’s definitely going to be tough. We’re both 10th and 11th in points right now so it’s definitely going to be a huge round and a lot of pressure on both of us, but our Traxxas team is going to give it all we got. We don’t have lane choice, but we’ll just have to see what kind of car we can give her tomorrow,” said Force.
Brittany Force continued her consistent and quick qualifying effort on Saturday afternoon at Bandimere Speedway. She was in the last pair of Top Fuel dragsters on the strength of her No. 2 qualifying effort on Friday and she once again posted the second quickest run of the session. The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster went right down the right lane in 3.903 seconds which was only bested by Tony Schumacher’s 3.879 second run. Force picked up an additional two qualifying bonus points for her effort.
“I feel very excited and confident for the Monster Energy team going into tomorrow. The biggest thing we have been working on is making the most of our four qualifying passes. We want to go down the track every single run. We were able to do that this weekend. We seem to like Denver we went to the final round last year. Our plan is to go all the way tomorrow with this Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster,” said Force, a five-time Top Fuel finalist.
In the final qualifying session Force was smooth and quick posting a time of 3.858 seconds which kept her in the top of the pack that session and she wound up No. 3 in a tough Top Fuel field. She will face Terry McMillen in the first round tomorrow.
On Friday Force also set the Bandimere Speedway speed record with an impressive 326.95 mph run. The second youngest Force joined her father, quickest ET 4.015 seconds, as record setters at Bandimere Speedway.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Blue DEF Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 1st at 4.015 seconds, 318.09 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +7 (3rd quickest of Q1 and quickest of Q2 and Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): John Hale (0-1)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 5th at 4.051 seconds, 311.70 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (3rd quickest of Q2 and Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Tony Pedregon (12-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 10th at 4.102 seconds, 312.71 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Alexis DeJoria (6-4)
BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 3.802 seconds, 326.95 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +5 (3rd quickest of Q1, 2nd quickest of Q2 and Q3)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Terry McMillen (3-1)
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Sunday, July 26
Final Eliminations 11:00 AM