JOHN FORCE RIDING HIGH HEADED INTO HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, TX (April 22, 2015) --- When the win light lit up for John Force for the 142nd time two weeks ago in Las Vegas the winningest driver in NHRA history didn’t want to bask in the glow of victory by himself but rather he wanted to share the spotlight with his teammate and finals partner Robert Hight. Force and Hight have been nearly inseparable the past 18 months as the pair have been working to put John Force Racing, Inc., back together again. The win, the first all Chevrolet final round since 2008, was a huge victory for Force who has put more energy into this season than any in previous memory.
“I have been working around the clock to put this company back together and show corporate America John Force can still get the job done. I have a young team and a new crew chief Jon Schaffer and they came together in Las Vegas. I wanted to build for the future not just for me but for my kids and grandkids. These guys on this team and all my teams are the future of John Force Racing,” said Force after his remarkable win in Las Vegas.
Force’s all-white Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car narrowly made the call for the semi-finals against Alexis DeJoria. After the warm-up the team noticed a problem that necessitated a motor swap which the young team executed in less than 30 minutes. On the way to the staging lanes the tow strap broke forcing Force’s crew to push the 2,400 pound Funny Car the length of the staging lanes in order to make the call.
“My guys did a great job on the motor swap and then to see them pushing that Chevy Funny Car up the staging lanes I don’t know if I have been prouder. Even by PR guy, Elon Werner, was out there pushing. We have always had a great team atmosphere but with new guys you want to make sure they know what we are all about. I am spending time with these young guys and they are keeping me excited,” said Force.
The dramatic run to the winner’s circle secured Force’s spot in the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout and also moved him from the No. 13 spot in the points to No. 6. Force is the defending Traxxas Nitro Shootout Funny Car champion and he also won the inaugural Shootout.
“You want to definitely be in the Traxxas Shootout because Traxxas is one of our major sponsors. The win in Las Vegas was big because Mark Kent the top boss from GM was at the track and I gave him the trophy. We brought on Peak and Lucas Oil last year and this was the first win for them as new sponsors but it also showed Auto Club, Mac Tools, and Traxxas that we still know how to win. Winning and safety will always be our focus at John Force Racing and I am looking forward to getting to Houston,” said Force.
Force has won the Spring Nationals six times but his last trip to the winner’s circle in Baytown was 2002 where he defeated Tommy Johnson Jr.
ROBERT HIGHT READY TO CORRAL FIRST WIN OF SEASON IN TEXAS
BAYTOWN, TX (April 22, 2015) --- The defending O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring NHRA Nationals winner has a number of fond memories racing in Baytown, Texas. It was just Robert Hight’s fourth career start behind the wheel of the AAA Texas Funny Car that the crewman turned driver would wheel himself into his first winner’s circle in 2005. Since that win Hight has been one of the most dominant Funny Car winners over the past ten years. On the heels of racing to his first final of the season Hight will return to the NHRA Spring Nationals ready to pick up his third career win at the ultra-quick Texas race track.
“You can see great ETs if the conditions are right in Baytown. The track is basically at sea level so we could see some awesome times. Low ETs are great but the thing that is going to win races is consistency and that is what we are starting to get with this AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. We shot out a spark plug on that last run with John (Force) in Las Vegas or we would have won that race. We were in a no lose situation with two JFR Chevys in the final but I still wanted to see that win light,” said Hight who moved up to No. 3 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings.
Last season at Houston Hight won and appeared in his fifth consecutive final round of the season. Hight would extend that streak in Atlanta with another win to give him a run of six straight finals and four wins. It was a dominant stretch but Hight knows that early season success doesn’t guarantee Countdown win lights.
“Last year we start so hot we wanted to maintain that high level and we just couldn’t do it. This year we have two semi-final finishes and a runner-up coming into Houston and I honestly feel very confident. (John Force’s crew chief) Jon Schaffer came over before the second round in Las Vegas and helped us fix a problem and we won a key round. This is a whole team effort at John Force Racing. Last year we helped a lot of teams with tune-ups and they helped us. We are doing the same thing this season and we are starting to see some success,” added Hight.
Since that first win in 2005 at Royal Purple Raceway, Hight has built an impressive streak of success that has not been matched by any Funny Car driver in history. He has won at least two races every season of his career and also been No. 1 qualifier at least once. He won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in 2006 just his second time competing at that race. He has won the most prestigious race three times total and also has two runner-up finishes.
Hight will readily admit that he was fortunate to start his career with a great crew chief and team and now is with future Hall of Fame crew chief Mike Neff. Hight and Neff have clicked since they were both former crew guys that worked their way up. Both have driving experience and wins at the O’Reilly Spring Nationals. Hight’s unbelievable work ethic has also been a huge help throughout his career. He works harder at being a good driver than just about any one. His qualifying reaction times are consistent with his race day reaction times.
In the ten years since that 2005 win in Houston Hight has stood in the winner’s circle of all the “Majors” except the Summernationals in Englishtown. Most NHRA historians recognize four “Majors” on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series starting with the historic Chevrolet Performance US Nationals Labor Day weekend, the Gatornationals in Gainesville, the Summernationals in Englishtown and finally depending on whom you talk to either the Winternationals or Auto Club Finals in Pomona. Hight has multiple wins at all the majors except Englishtown where shockingly he has never reached the finals with three US Nationals wins, two Gatornationals wins and three Winternational wins to go along with an Auto Club NHRA Finals win.
FORCE WANTS TO EXTEND QUALIFYING SUCCESS TO RACE DAY RESULTS IN HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, TX (April 22, 2015) --- For 26-year-old Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driver Courtney Force, the first five races in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello series have been a roller coaster of on-track results. Starting out the season at Pomona, Force qualified No. 1 and made it to the quarterfinals. In Phoenix, she started from the No. 2 spot on race day and two races later at the Four-Wide Nationals, she rocketed to the No. 1 spot for the second time in just four races. Force and the Traxxas team have managed strong qualifying efforts, but have not advanced past the opening round on race day in the last three events.
“I've raced at plenty of tracks where I have qualified high then have gone out in the first round and vice versa where I've qualified low and won the race. So it makes you realize as a driver that anything can happen. This is a team effort every weekend and you have to go into race day with just as much focus, if not more, even if you are the higher qualified car,” said Force.
Last year in Houston, the youngest daughter of John Force qualified in the No. 16 spot; the first and only time the driver has held the final qualifying position going into race day. She made a quick exit in the first round. The very next weekend in Atlanta, Force was runner-up and won the following weekend in Topeka where she also qualified No. 1 and claimed the 100th pro win for women in NHRA history. To date, the fourth-year Funny Car driver has qualified in the top half of the field at 70% of her races and has never DNQ’ed at an event.
“Being that we almost didn't make the show last year and came into race day in the No. 16 spot makes you remember that there is always hope. Even if you qualify low, as long as you come out with your team on Sunday with a positive attitude, you could still push hard for the win and take it all, as long as you take it round by round, because anything can happen. Like my dad always says, "If it's your day to win, it's your day to win".
Houston is also the site of the first match-up between Force and Alexis DeJoria; the lone women of the Funny Car ranks. In 2012 during Force’s rookie season, the pair met up for the first time in the opening round of eliminations. Force won the battle, but the following year it was DeJoria who won their first round match-up.
“It's fun coming back to a noteworthy track for females being it was the first time Alexis and I had gone head to head in the first round. But we have gone back and forth every year on who gets the win. There's always a big hype when Alexis and I have to race each other and the first time ever was even bigger. But as the only two females in the funny car category, we try and ignore the hype and just appreciate the fact that we both are out here doing what we love in a male-dominated sport,” said Force.
BRITTANY FORCE WANTS TO ROUND-UP FIRST WIN IN HOUSTON
BAYTOWN, TX (April 22, 2015) --- Brittany Force and the John Force Racing Top Fuel dragster have started the season with some hits and some misses but the third year pro driver is far from discouraged. The 2013 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future winner knows that she is racing in one of the toughest classes against some of the best drivers the sport of NHRA drag racing has ever seen. Two weeks ago Force was ousted in the first round even though she was the No. 7 qualified driver further showing interested observers that there are no gimme races in Top Fuel.
“It is tough to go out in the first round. On that run the nerves are up there for the driver and the whole team, they are through the round. You just want to get past the first round but it is difficult. Unfortunately we went out to Clay Millican,” said Force who has defeated Millican in the past. “We had a good run and got it down the track but he was just a little quicker. They really stepped up. He was right there with me at the finish line and I could see him out the canopy next to me and unfortunately I didn’t see a win light. The team is ready to go into the next race in Houston.”
Force’s Top Fueler has shown great performance results this season and as a driver Force is developing very quickly. The round wins cannot come fast enough for the 28 year-old racer from Southern California. This weekend at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals Force is hoping her experience on the track in a variety of classes will pay dividends.
“I am ready to get back into this dragster. I am really ready for some back to back races. Houston is a great race because I have raced there a lot from Super Comp to Top Alcohol Dragster and then Top Fuel,” said Force.
So far this season Force has three second round appearances reaching the quarter-finals in Phoenix, Gainesville and the unique Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. The successes buoy the enthusiasm Force has for racing.
“Every time you get a round win you know you have achieved something. This is a tough class and I know my team is working really hard. We have to make our own opportunities out here and I know we will get it figured out. I am still learning every pass down the track and that is the exciting part,” added Force.
Last year at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals Force qualified in the 8th spot and advanced to second round. She beat fellow Rookie of the Year Richie Crampton in the first round but lost to Texan Steve Torrence in a pedal-fest in the second round. Force’s Top Fuel dragster smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and she tried to regain control but she could not chase down as tire smoking and weaving Torrence.
“I had beaten Torrence in Phoenix earlier in the year,” said Brittany Force after the rough loss. “Unfortunately for us, he got the win. Right when I stepped on the gas, my dragster went up in smoke, I tried to pedal it but we couldn’t get it down the track.”