Norwalk, Ohio – The steady progress Robert Hight and his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team have been making over the past couple of races continued to show promise as they raced to the No. 3 starting spot at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The 2009 Funny Car champion was facing a possible first round match-up with teammate Courtney Force before he took off down the Summit Motorsports Park track and crossed the finish line 4.003 seconds later.
“Since Bristol our goal has been to get four quality runs in a row. We made some improvements in Bristol and we are taking our time in getting this tune-up just right. Mike and I are pretty pleased with the performance and improvement,” said Hight on his season best starting spot.
Hight’s four runs in qualifying were all consistent and position the 34-time Funny Car winner for a possible run at his first win in Norwalk. On Friday the Auto Club Chevy Funny Car came off the trailer and posted a 4.11 second run. They followed that up with an equally impressive 4.040 second pass under the lights. Today in similar conditions Hight nearly matched his Q1 elapsed time with a 4.107 second run. In the last session of the night when he needed it most crew chief Mike Neff leaned on his tune-up and stepped up in a big way with the third quickest Funny Car run of the weekend, 4.003 seconds, which was also Hight’s quickest run of the 2015 season.
In the first round Hight will face former teammate Tony Pedregon.
Friday two-time 2015 winner John Force was the third quickest Funny Car driver on the property. Today he stepped up with a quicker run behind the wheel of his white Chevrolet Camaro SS moving from a 4.019 to a 4.012 elapsed time but the defending event champion slipped to No. 6 on the qualifying sheet. The winningest driver in NHRA history was not looking too severely at his position but more evaluating the overall performance of his team.
“We are all qualified today but tomorrow is when it really counts. These Chevys are showing a lot of promise and improvement and so is that Monster dragster. I think John Force Racing will be OK and we will see how tomorrow works out. We need to get back to our winning ways,” said John Force.
Force will face Jack Beckman in the first round and he will be looking to defeat him for the first time in four attempts in head to head races at Summit Motorsport Park.
Courtney Force will enter race day for the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in the No. 9 position. The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team got two solid passes down the race track at Summit Motorsports Park and qualified with a solid 4.029 ET at 319.75 mph. She will line up beside veteran Funny Car driver Ron Capps in the opening round and will give up lane choice to the higher qualified car.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good race car this weekend. We’re excited to be out here in Norwalk and spending the 4th of July holiday weekend with all the fans out at the track. Our car is really leaving good and has good numbers early. Tonight we tried to go for a good, hard run. It had some pretty bad tire shake towards the end of the run so I had to get out of it. I think we’re pushing the car a little too hard to see what it can lay down in these great conditions, but we weren’t able to get it done. We still have a really good race car and I think we’ll be more than ready for race day tomorrow,” Force said.
This will be the sixteenth time the pair have met in eliminations, but only the second time this season. Six of their match-ups have been in the opening round on race day. Force is currently 4-11 to Capps in previous events and they have raced each other at Norwalk twice in the past with Capps winning both of those meetings. Their last race was Gainesville earlier this season.
The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team is eager to get on the track tomorrow even though their qualifying efforts came up short on consistency. The team posted the second quickest run on the day on Friday but was moved back a few spots today. Third year driver Brittany Force will enter race day as the No. 6 qualifier and will face veteran Pat Dakin in the first round.
“This was a little bit of a tough weekend for us. We only got one run that was a quality run. We want to get as many runs as possible and that is what we are working on. You need those runs to help get a set up for Sunday. We only got one this weekend but it was good enough to get us in the top half and we will have to race Pat Dakin tomorrow. This Monster Energy team has been working really hard and hopefully we can continue our positive momentum on race day tomorrow. I am confident in the entire team,” said Brittany Force.
Today in qualifying Force was on solid runs in both sessions before the Goodyear slicks on her 10,000 horsepower Monster Energy Top Fueler shook loose from the track surface. Conditions will be vastly different tomorrow morning but the team that has raced to two semi-final and a runner-up finish in the last four races is focused on continued success.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 6th at 4.012 seconds, 322.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
First round opponent (W-L): Jack Beckman (8-22)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 4.003 seconds, 322.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Tony Pedregon (11-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 9th at 4.029 seconds, 319.75 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Ron Capps (4-11)
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 6th at 3.755 seconds, 325.92mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q2)
First round opponent (W-L): Pat Dakin (0-1)
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Sunday, July 5
Final Eliminations 11:00 AM