COMMERCE, GA – At the end of a busy two days of qualifying that saw John Force Racing unveil Brittany Force’s Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster on Friday and John Force run to the No. 2 qualifying spot in the Peak Anti-Freeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car JFR is positioned for a successful race day at Atlanta Dragway. Courtney Force will go into race day as the No. 10 qualifier in the Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS and defending Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals champion Robert Hight will enter race day as the No. 14 qualifier, the same position from which he won the 2007 Auto Club Finals.
Track conditions proved tricky for every driver and crew chief competing in the various Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes today. John Force and his Jon Schaffer tuned Peak Anti-Freeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car did not improve their qualifying position but that did not diminish the feeling so success today for the seven-time Southern Nationals winner.
“I match raced in Atlanta before we started running NHRA national events. I have a young team with Jon Schaffer leading the pack and he is doing well. He made this Peak Chevy fly. We will take what comes and you have to qualify to put on the show on Sunday. We have fans that want to see us on Sunday morning and we will be there,” said Force.
In the first round Force will race veteran Jeff Diehl. Force is looked forward to a tough round but he has confidence his team of young crew men will be ready for the challenge. Since winning the Summitracing.com Nationals in Las Vegas Force has held onto a Top Ten position in the Mello Yello point standings. He has been focused on his own performance as well as the overall financial health and on-track performance of his three other teams.
“You come here and you want to do well. We are back in the Peak Chevrolet Camaro and our job is to put them in the show with Auto Club, Lucas Oil and Mac Tools. We are learning with this young team. Our hot rod is right up there No. 2 behind Cruz Pedregon. You can’t complain about that,” said Force. “My biggest issue is to get everyone qualified and we did that with Robert Hight in the Auto Club Chevrolet and Courtney in the Traxxas Chevy. We worked over a year on the Monster Energy deal for that Top Fuel dragster so we wanted to get off to a good start. (Monster VP of Sports Marketing) Mitch Covington and his team were here this weekend and I think they were impressed with everything they saw.”
While Force was holding onto the No. 2 spot Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro team were battling track conditions to work on a consistent race day tune up. Every run the team learned something about the tough Atlanta Dragway race surface. Crew chief Mike Neff was in constant contact with JFR track specialist Lanny Miglizzi and the rest of the John Force Racing brain trust of crew chiefs. The group pulled other and with only sixteen Funny Cars on the property there was very little risk in being aggressive and taking chances.
“We made the show and that is always the No. 1 priority. You look at all the classes and there are hitters at the top of the ladder and hitters at the bottom. That is every week out here. I am ready for tomorrow and we will have a tough competitor in the first round. Our plan in to do what we always do which is race the track as hard as we can and I will be ready to do my job as the driver,” said Hight, a three-time Southern Nationals champion.
In the first round Hight will face Jack Beckman. This will be the first time for Hight to face his former crew chief Jimmy Prock in eliminations. Hight is 18-11 against Beckman and Robert has raced to the final round at Atlanta Dragway six of his last ten races here.
Today fourth-year Funny Car pilot and driver of the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car drove down a hot race track and managed to pull of two impressive runs, despite track temperatures reaching beyond 129 degrees and ended up in the No. 10 position going into race day.
Courtney Force posted a 4.187 ET at 300.33 mph and was awarded three qualifying bonus points for being quickest of the third session.
“Our Traxxas team has made four consistent runs right out of the box this weekend,” said Force. “The third qualifying session, our first run today, was right in the heat of the day. I think that was the hottest round that this track is going to see all weekend and we were the quickest car and picked up three points.”
She followed up by posting a 4.173 second pass at 310.63 mph to wrap-up the fourth and final session. Although she improved on her time for the day, it didn’t beat her 4.079 ET at 319.14 mph from Friday’s evening round.
“It didn’t move us up on the qualifying ladder,” she said. “But we made four passes straight down the race track and that’s what matters. I think consistency is going to be the key for race day. The conditions have been changing from full sun and hot to cloud cover. I think the best thing to know is we have a consistent car in our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car and we can run it in this Atlanta heat so far. I think that will help us go round on race day tomorrow.”
The youngest daughter of John Force and also the youngest driver at John Force Racing, will match-up beside Chad Head for the first time. She has never raced Head, but has raced his dad, Jim Head. Head will be her 28th different opponent in four years of professional Funny Car racing.
“We’re excited to have this Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS running solid and although we don’t have lane choice, we’re going to have the confidence going into tomorrow that we have a good car to work with and that’s at least half the battle out there.
The last time Force raced in Atlanta, she was runner-up to Robert Hight and thought she had missed her chance to win the 100th race by a woman, which she won the next weekend in Topeka, Kansas.
“Having Monster Energy on board with us as of the start of this weekend in Atlanta, we hope we can give them a good show and show them what John Force Racing is made of,” Force, a seven-time Funny Car national event winner added.
The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster will start from the No. 10 spot tomorrow. This will be the first time Monster has started a race as a major sponsor since Nov. 4, 2007. Brittany Force has been waiting for this moment for over a year and to see it come to fruition tomorrow has the third year pro excited and proud.
“I am pumped up and it has been a crazy weekend. It has been crazy good. We unveiled the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and it looks bad ass. The fans seem excited about it and you can feel the excitement level in our pits. We are ready for tomorrow. We got two good runs in the heat and even though we are the No. 10 qualifier I feel good about our chances. It has been a challenge here for all the pro teams. I have a lot of confidence in my crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson.”
Force made two solid runs in the heat this weekend. Here opening round run of 3.912 seconds in the first session was quick enough to have her in the top half. In the final run of the day today Force posted a solid 3.965 second pass which was again top half for the Top Fuelers in the heat. Wrapping up qualifying on a high note gives Force a nice boost going into race day.
“We definitely needed that last run. Conditions tomorrow will be very similar to today so that run helped us out,” concluded Force.
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Peak Anti-Freeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 2nd at 4.031 seconds, 317.64 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q2)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Jeff Diehl (4-0)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 14th at 4.563 seconds, 188.78 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Jack Beckman (18-11)
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 10th at 4.079 seconds, 319.14 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q3)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Chad Head (0-0)
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 10th at 3.912 seconds, 303.64 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Richie Crampton (2-1)