FORCE READY TO CHASE CHAMPIONSHIP No. 17 STARTING IN POMONA
POMONA (February 9, 2016) --- The winningest driver in NHRA history is ready to get the 2016 NHRA season started with the 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. John Force, the 16-time Funny Car champion, will be racing under the PEAK Antifreeze banner all season behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. This weekend Force will be looking to win the historic season opening race for the eighth time.
“I am excited about getting the season started. We had a great week of testing in Phoenix and my PEAK hot rod is ready. My crew chief Jon Schaffer and my team have worked hard over the off-season and we will be ready for the Winternationals,” said Force, the 2014 Winternationals winner.
Last season Force picked up two wins and finished in the Top Ten but by his own admission it was an off season. This season Force has dedicated himself to keeping the competitive fire burning starting with the first race of the season.
“I told my sponsors that we will be racing for the championship. We have been in the championship hunt until the last day of the season for just about twenty years. We came up a little short last season but we had so much new stuff going on I didn’t know how it would turn out. I had a whole new team and they did a really good job. Jon Schaffer showed he can lead this team and working with Mike Neff my lead crew chief we have a really good group,” added Force.
Prior to last season John Force Racing had won the last five Winternationals with John Force accounting for three of those wins. Force won in 2014, 2012 and 2010. Teammates Robert Hight and Courtney Force accounted for the other two wins in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
JFR has also collected fifteen No. 1 qualifiers at the Winternationals including five of the last six top spots. That kind of strong start to the season has seen a JFR Funny Car in the winner’s circle eleven times to start the NHRA season. Since 1995 Force has only failed to qualify in the top half of the field one time, a No. 11 start in 2013. Over that span of twenty-one years Force qualified in the top three twelve times.
Last season saw John Force lead the charge to add sponsors and new partners and this season he has the benefit of continuity and stability going into the race season.
“We expanded our relationship with PEAK to the full season and I am excited to be racing this blue PEAK Chevrolet Camaro plus we are bringing on some new B to B (business to business) partners through that relationship,” said Force. “You’ll see me in my blue PEAK firesuit all season and hopefully a lot of the time we’ll be in the winner’s circle with my car or Robert’s Auto Club Chevy or Courtney Traxxas Chevy. I am also looking forward to seeing the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster hit the track and go some rounds.”
HIGHT WANTS TO PUT FOCUS ON STRONG START IN 2016
POMONA (February 9, 2016) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team are on a mission in 2016. The 2009 Funny Car champion is looking to bring more focus and determination to the chase for his second NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship. That is quite a statement for a driver that has won at least two races and qualified No. 1 at least once every single season of his professional career.
“I don’t think I have ever been more focused on getting a season started than I am on this season. I think my team had a good off-season working on some things with the rest of the crew chiefs to give us a great chance to start strong in 2016. Last year we had a semi-final finish at the Winternationals and I would love to get my fourth win at Auto Club Raceway this weekend,” said Hight, a three-time Winternationals winner.
In 2011 Hight won the season opener and he picked up his previous two wins at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in 2006 and 2008. In addition to his three wins with the Auto Club team Hight also has three No. 1 qualifiers to his credit. After career quick times at testing in Phoenix Hight is confident in his teams chance to getting off to a good start this weekend.
“We had a good testing session in Phoenix last weekend. I made my quickest run ever, 3.885 seconds at over 329 mph. It was a great run and I felt it just pulling the whole way down the track. Hopefully conditions will give us a chance to run that quick at Auto Club Raceway,” said Hight.
Testing started off slowly for Hight but his team stuck with their plan and over the course of the first two days worked their way to a competitive tune up.
“We had a ton of things to come in here to test and it took us seven runs to get the application right to go down the track. We didn’t get to test everything that we wanted to but once it went it was fast. We figured out some of the good things that we wanted to test but not everything,” said Hight. “I also believe with how we finished the end of the year at Pomona what we learned here is going to make us so much better when we get back to Pomona. I am so excited to get to the Winternationals. We made career best runs here and we are in the ballgame.”
Hight knows racing in front of his hometown fans and sponsors will provide a great opportunity to start the season on the right foot.
“I have a great sponsor with the Automobile Club of Southern California and they will have a huge display at the Winternationals. The whole team will go to the Auto Club stage on Saturday and spend time with the fans. I love having sponsors like Auto Club at the race because you see them in the pits and the staging lanes and it just keeps you motivated. I know if we get into the winner’s circle there will be a lot of people to celebrate the win,” add Hight.
COURTNEY FORCE LOOKING FOR SECOND WINTERNATIONALS TITLE
POMONA (February 9, 2016) --- The off season was incredibly long for Courtney Force after wrapping up her toughest season since her 2012 Funny Car debut. It was a rocky year that tested the Traxxas team with highs and lows. Force qualified on the pole at two events (Pomona and Charlotte) and had a runner-up finish in Norwalk, Ohio. She posted a new career-best ET of 3.933 seconds in qualifying at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, the 27-year-old suffered fifteen first-round losses at the wheel of her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car in 2015, ultimately taking away a highly sought after position in the Countdown to the Championship. Despite a winless season, Force kept a firm hold on the record for most Funny Car wins in a season by a female (four) and most Funny Car wins overall for a female Funny Car driver with seven career tour victories.
“I think I've become mentally stronger as a driver going into my 5th year of racing and have learned through all the ups and downs. I think any mistake you make as a driver is only for the better and you can take some much away from that if you choose to look at it with a positive attitude, and that's what I'm doing this season,” said Force.
Force is ready to make a comeback with her Traxxas team for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series tour and she has already seen an improvement. The team recently tested their Chevrolet Funny Cars in Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and after struggling on their first few attempts, the young driver was making impressive full pulls which led to a career-best 3.890 seconds at 323.89 mph.
“This season we are pushing hard to get our car back in that top 10 since we missed that opportunity last year. We are going to fight hard at every race with that as our primary focus. Obviously we have high hopes of having a race car to chase that championship, but we are going to take this one race at a time. We have a couple new guys on my team and have Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson as co-crew Chiefs this year so I am eager to get started!
The season opener at the Force family’s home track in Pomona, Calif. will be the first event for new Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS Funny Car co-crew chiefs Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson. Both Hood and Thompson were assistant Crew Chiefs until this year.
“I think our team made some huge progress this past week during testing in Phoenix. I think we have a better handle on this car than we did last year going into Pomona so that is giving us some confidence. When we ran my career best during testing and the car showed some consistency on the runs, it made me really excited for the upcoming season,” said Force.
BRITTANY FORCE AND MONSTER ENERGY TEAM READY FOR FIRST RACE OF SEASON
POMONA (February 9, 2016) --- Brittany Force, the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year, is looking to continue to build momentum off of a strong finish last year. Entering her fourth professional season the driver of the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team has a new crew chief but has the same drive to get into the winner’s circle. Over the off-season two-time Top Fuel champion crew chief Brian Husen joined JFR as crew chief for the Monster Energy team and world class tuner Alan Johnson will act as a tuning consultant. Husen describes the tuning relationship perfectly saying he is the quarterback and Alan is the coach.
“Teaming up with Alan Johnson and Brian Husen as my crew chief has been great. They have made a lot of changes to this Monster Energy dragster. They run a whole different system that what we used to run. It takes some time to adjust to that and I am learning the car. It is starting to feel like home. We ran a couple of 3.72s and I am ready to get to Pomona,” said Force.
Force is looking for her first round win at the historic Circle K NHRA Winternationals. In the past three seasons Force has qualified No. 15, No. 8 and No. 8 but has not advanced out of the first round. Her past performance won’t distract for her focus going into the first race on the heels of testing. The young driver likes to idea of going straight from testing to the first race of the season.
“Not only does it help me as a driver I think it helps the whole team. We have all had a long off-season and coming to Phoenix and making good runs every day is what we needed to do to get prepared for the season,” said Brittany Force.
The test session in Phoenix was very beneficial to Force and the Monster Energy team as they posted consistently quick times, including the quickest elapsed time for the category on Saturday a solid 3.712 second pass.
“That is the one thing I am most excited about. I want to get the season started and get back into that racing groove. We have a new team and I am excited to get the season started,” added Force.
In the past two seasons Force has raced to final rounds each season with last year being a break-through year. Force raced to into the Countdown to the Championship and with the season winding down was as high as No. 3 in the points before settling into the No. 7 finishing position. Her six final round appearances and four No. 1 qualifiers have the lone JFR Top Fuel driver poised to pick up her first win.
“I know that we have been close to that first win and I have so much confidence in this team I know we will be ready starting this weekend,” said Force. “Having the support of Monster Energy has been great. They came on board last year in Atlanta so this will be their first Winternationals and I can’t wait to have them with us for a whole season.”