GREAT MEMORIES AWAIT FORCE AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA
TOPEKA, KS (May 18, 2016) --- This week Courtney Force is returning to one of the most memorable race tracks on the NHRA Mello Yello circuit for her and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team. The current Funny Car points leader rallied her way to a No. 1 qualifying effort at Heartland Park Topeka in 2014 along with her sister Brittany in Top Fuel. It was the first time two sisters sat atop their respective fields going into eliminations on Sunday. The youngest daughter of 16-time champion John Force then advanced four rounds to claim her fourth career victory and the 100th win for women in the professional NHRA ranks.
“At Topeka in 2014, it was one of the most memorable races for me as a driver in my career. Our team was coming off a final round upset the weekend before and came out strong in Topeka as No. 1 qualifier. I got to share that with my sister Brittany as she was No. 1 in Top Fuel. Then we had an outstanding race day and our Traxxas team took home the win, which also made it the 100th win for women in the NHRA. It was a proud moment to be added to a list of such talented women across the board. That win was very meaningful for me,” said Force.
Force’s Topeka win in 2014 was the first of four victories claimed by the Traxxas Chevrolet team that season, which made the 27-year-old driver the winningest female Funny Car driver in one season after passing her sister Ashley Force-Hood who had the record of three wins in one season.
“We had an incredible year in 2014, starting with that win in Topeka which carried our team to three more wins that same season which was the most a female had done in one season in Funny Car, but we have high hopes of topping that this year! The goal is obviously to be the best driver out here, not just the best female driver, and I feel like we are on a great path towards it this season. We have a fast car, a motivated team and great crew chiefs and we hope this will make up the total package needed for a successful, winning season,” said Force.
Force recently picked up her eighth Funny Car win and is still the winningest female driver in Funny Car. She holds the points lead for the second race in-a-row after just seven races in the 2016 Mello Yello season have been completed. The fourth-year driver has 522 points just ahead of Jack Beckman in second place with 482.
“It has been an incredible start to our 2016 season so far and I'm thrilled with the performance of our car and team. We have picked up a win in Houston, which put us in a tie for the points lead with Tim Wilkerson, but we were able to extend our lead in this Traxxas Funny Car this past weekend in Atlanta! My crew chiefs, Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson and this great group of crew guys have really exceeded my expectations so far. I'm proud to drive for this team and am thrilled to show the fans and sponsors how much stronger we have become together from everything we have learned in the past few years,” said Force.
Force was part of the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car unveiling which took place at John Force Racing in Brownsburg, Ind. on Tuesday before the NHRA Kansas Nationals.
“What an exciting day it was being able to unveil the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car body to the media and the fans. I'm so excited with the end result and cannot wait to get behind the wheel. This is exciting for us as a team working with the engineers at Chevy to develop this new Camaro body which has so many characteristics of the 2016 Camaro SS. It's exciting to see it come to life. The engineers at Chevrolet and our guys at John Force Racing have done an incredible job with it. I can't wait to see what we can do as a team on the race track. I’m ready to start running it,” said Force.
BRITTANY FORCE READY FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS AT KANSAS NATIONALS
TOPEKA, KS (May 18, 2016) --- Heading into the 28th annual Kansas NHRA Nationals Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team have momentum and some history on their side. The past two seasons at the Kansas Nationals Force has raced to the semifinals and in each of those races she lost to the eventual winner. Last year she came up just short to Lucas Oil teammate Richie Crampton and in 2014 she was narrowly edged out by Spencer Massey. This year she will roll into Heartland Park Topeka with a new crew chief and an impressive record already in 2016.
“I am really proud of this Monster Energy team. We have two wins already this season and I am looking forward to the Kansas Nationals. The last two years we have gone to the semifinals and we have qualified well there too. I think we can continue to run well there and we’ll see what happens. The biggest positive for me is h0ow well this team is working together with Alan Johnson and Brian Husen. I am excited to get back to the track,” said Force who sits No. 3 in the Top Fuel point standings.
Force’s two wins have come in impressive fashion. Her first win came on the heels of a close final round in Phoenix and two weeks later at the historic Gatornationals the fourth win light of the day lit up for the 2013 Rookie of the Year for the first time. Force was thrilled to get her first win and also to share the excitement with her family and friends in attendance.
“The Gatornationals win was great because my sister Ashley was there along with the rest of my family. It was also cool to win the same event as Robert (Hight). He has been to supportive of me throughout my whole career going all the way back to Super Comp. It was just an amazing day. The one bad thing about the day was I thought I lost my winner’s circle hat. I was bummed because that was the first winner’s hat I ever won and I couldn’t find it after the race. I figured it just got lost in all the excitement of the winner’s circle,” said Force.
On Tuesday the morning of the team’s unveiling of the new Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car after a thorough search of the team’s hauler as well as an examination of the hats that the crew guys had Force’s original hat was located. It turns out that during one of the many hat swaps and photo sessions in the winner’s circle Force’s hat was passed off to track specialist Lanny Miglizzi.
“I put a star on the inside headband of the hat so we just asked everyone with a hat to check and sure enough we found my hat. There were a few extra hats so everyone on the team got one but I am thrilled to have my hat back,” added Force.
Force’s second win came two races after her first and while there was no confusion on the winner’s hat the unique atmosphere of the Four-Wide Nationals left Force a little confused during the last qualifying session. The four year pro went into race day focused on the unique Christmas Tree used for the Four-Wide Nationals and came away with three round wins and another Wally trophy.
“Getting a win at the Four-Wide was amazing. That race is so unique and being the first female to win a Four-Wide NHRA national event is pretty cool,” said Force.
Since that win Force has had a strong racecar but has not tasted victory. She hopes that trend is reversed in Topeka this weekend.
JOHN FORCE SET TO DEBUT NEW CAMARO IN TOPEKA
TOPEKA, KS (May 18, 2016) --- When you have raced in almost 700 races over your career getting excited about heading to the race track might have lost some of its luster. This weekend 143-time winner John Force will be like a kid on Christmas morning when he rolls into the pits at Heartland Park Topeka for the 28th annual Kansas NHRA Nationals. Force will be debuting a brand new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car that was revealed to the public for the first time at a press conference this past Tuesday.
“I can’t wait to get to Topeka. I have a brand new hot rod that looks awesome. We unveiled the new Camaro SS Funny Car at our shop in Brownsburg and now we have to get it on the track and see what it can do. We’ll run the Chevy look for at least one run on Friday and then we’ll be in our usual PEAK look for the rest of the race,” said an excited Force. “We are working on a few things in the car with how I am sitting but I think I’ll be able to see a lot better looking through that big ole movie theater window on this new Funny Car. Last year I almost got the win in Topeka and it was an amazing race for performance. There is a new owner and president so we will come in and put on a show for the fans.”
The new Camaro has a number of improved features but most importantly and not so noticeable will be the fact that the new Camaro SS body is considerably lighter than the body JFR has been running and winning with so far this season.
“I can’t make any excuses for the old Camaro. We won some races with it and Courtney and Robert have already won this season. I went to the final in Phoenix but this new Camaro is just awesome. I have to thank everyone at Chevrolet from Jim Campbell to Mark Kent to the whole Chevrolet team that worked on this racecar. I don’t know how it will run right out of the box but I am excited as I have even been to get in a racecar,” said Force.
The 2015 Kansas NHRA National runner-up just missed a rare opportunity last year when he had the chance to defeat all four Don Schumacher Racing Funny Cars on race day. As the No. 5 qualifier Force took out Tommy Johnson Jr in the first round and then dispatched Ron Capps and Matt Hagan in the second round and semifinals. It was a close race with eventual winner Jack Beckman in the final but Force recognized everyone is tough in the Funny Car class.
“You want to beat everybody out here every race. You can’t get caught up in who is in the other lane. You have to race the track and be on your game on the starting line. I have been working with (crew chief) Jon Schaffer and we will be ready to go at Topeka. I love having all these young guys around me. When I put on my firesuit I feel like I am 2o years old again,” exclaimed Force.
The winningest driver in NHRA history started his Kansas Nationals today with a full day of media events in Kansas City before heading back to Kansas City on Thursday for a Weld Wheels sponsor event. The high energy Force does not let a busy schedule stop him for keeping his head in his racecar.
“We did the press conference yesterday and after that I was back in this new hot rod making sure the pedals were in the right places because you can see so much better out of the windshield. It is like a drive in movie screen and I think it will help,” concluded Force. “The biggest thing we want to do this weekend is help the new owners and new track president put on a great show.”
HIGHT EAGER TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT KANSAS NATIONALS
TOPEKA, KS (May 18, 2016) --- Heartland Park Topeka holds a special place in Robert Hight’s career. He earned his Funny Car license at the multi-purpose facility west of Kansas City and he picked up a couple wins at the state of the art facility over the years. This year Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car team will be looking at the track as a place to relaunch their season.
“I am looking forward to getting back to Heartland Park. I have a lot of great memories from that track. I won twice in a couple of years ago and I have had some good runs there. The last couple of races have been tough there but I think we are figuring out some things with this Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car,” said Hight.
“The Funny Car points are so tight if you can get on a run on Sunday you can make a big jump. We are about to get into a busy stretch so you want to have some momentum.”
Hight’s teammate Courtney Force sits atop the Funny Car point standings now but it was Hight who held that spot from Gainesville through Houston. The 2009 Funny Car champion picked up the first Funny Car win of the season for John Force Racing at the historic Gatornationals and Hight also has a couple semifinal finishes to his credit.
Since the Gatornationals win Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro have been battling a tough field of competitors and some gremlins with their Funny Car. The team has suffered two first round exits and two quarterfinal finishes over the past four races but the two-time Kansas Nationals winner thinks he is due for some success on the track starting this weekend.
“The key has become getting a good start in qualifying. That really isn’t a new strategy but lately it is harder to dig out of a bad qualifying position. You look at the fields and now if you aren’t running a low 3.90 you aren’t in the top half of the field. You can lose lane choice with a time that would have had you in the top three or four posts last season. It is really competitive and we have to come out strong,” said Hight.
Luckily for the crewman turned Funny Car champion hard work and a competitive spirit are a great combination for the Auto Club team. Paired with crew chief Mike Neff the tandem has been a potent combination of performance and victories. Hight has won at least two races every year of his career which started in 2005 and Hight has been in the championship hunt almost every season.
The win earlier this year did more than just get the Auto Club team off to a hot start it also locked Hight into the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The $100,000 to win race will be contested at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend. Last year Hight was the runner-up at the specialty race and this season Hight has his sights set on getting the big check.
“Every season you have goals and obviously a Funny Car championship is the goal but along the way you have to make the Countdown and definitely getting into the Traxxas Shootout is goal. Now we can focus on getting better every race and winning races. Our mindset heading to Topeka is qualifying strong and give this Auto Club Camaro the best shot at getting that second win of the season,” concluded Hight.