JOHN FORCE LOOKING FOR MORE FIREWORKS IN NORWALK
NORWALK, OH (June 29, 2015) --- Last year John Force won the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals for the first time and the celebration was as epic as the fireworks the Bader family fires off every Fourth of July weekend. The win technically wasn’t Force’s first at Summit Motorsports Park considering the legendary Funny Car driver has been winning match races at the Ohio area race track for over two decades but it was his first official NHRA Funny Car title.
After outrunning Ron Capps in the final round Force was emotional in the winner’s circle as he accepted the Wally trophy.
“This win today was special to me. I had come to Norwalk decades ago for their Night of Fire events and match races but never won the NHRA event here, and I want to win every race. I came close a few times racing against (daughters) Ashley and Courtney but I never won the big one at this place. I just couldn’t get a NHRA national event win here and I won them all with the exception of Epping so I really wanted this win,” said John Force, after securing his 140th career Funny Car win.
This season Force has already picked up another historic win getting to the winner’s circle for the first time at New England Dragway three weeks ago. Force now has won at 25 different race tracks including all those presently in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The win in New Hampshire brought Force’s win total to 20 different states and Canada.
The Epping win has Force’s second of the season and his third final round which has the 16-time Funny Car champion in the No. 3 position in the Mello Yello point standings. The 143-time Funny Car winner is in prime position to make a run at his unprecedented 17th Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car championship but the veteran driver knows there is tough competition all around him.
“You look at all these young drivers out here. It has never been tougher to win a race. In my own camp I have Robert Hight and my daughter Courtney Force. They are tough and they have the fire. Robert wants to win so bad you see it in his eyes every day. I see the same attitude from Courtney,” said Force.
“Then you have guys like (Matt) Hagan, (Ron) Capps, (Tim) Wilkerson and Cruz (Pedregon) that have been putting up great numbers and winning races. I have a young crew led by Jon Schaffer and we are still learning. My brain trust led by Mike Neff is working on all these hot rods from the Funny Cars to that Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster.”
Force had a major overhaul in the off-season adding Peak Anti-Freeze, Chevrolet, Lucas Oil to the existing sponsor list of Auto Club, Traxxas, and Mac Tools. Force has won this year with the white Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car body as well as the blue Peak Anti-Freeze Camaro SS body.
“I have to take care of my sponsors that have been with me for the long haul. People like Auto Club, Traxxas, and Mac Tools. They supported me and stayed with me when we had some financial issues but we are in a lot better place now.
AUTO CLUB TEAM READY TO TAKE OFF AT THIS WEEKEND IN NORWALK
NORWALK, OH (June 29, 2015) --- The Fourth of the July weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will be the perfect launching pad for Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. The festive atmosphere and family centric attitude of the Bader-owned Summit Motorsports Park will keep the attention heavy on entertainment and performance. These two elements have been the hallmark of Hight’s career over the past decade.
“We have match raced at the Bader’s track for years so I feel really comfortable there. We have not been performing on the track to the level I am used to but we were also making an investment in our future performance. I think we are set up for a turn-around weekend this Fourth of July,” said Hight, a 34-time Funny Car national event winner.
The Auto Club Chevrolet team started the season with three semi-final finishes and a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. The hot start on the first six races was good for immediate Mello Yello point standing success but the last five races have been a tough stretch for the 2009 Funny Car champion. His best performance has been a No. 5 qualifying start at the New England Nationals and a second round exit.
“This season is a marathon not a sprint. There have been teams that have gotten off to a hot start at the beginning of the season and faded in the Countdown. That happened to us last year. Mike Neff and I have a plan and the plan is to work with all the JFR teams to make sure we are all ready to go for the Countdown’s last six races. We can’t get too lost on the regular season so I think you will see our performance start to turn around over the next month,” added Hight, a former clutch specialist.
Being teamed up with two-time Mello Yello NHRA championship winning crew chief Mike Neff has Hight full of confidence. Both men have succeeded at highest levels of the sport and both worked their way up the mechanical hierarchy to get to their current positions.
“Mike and I are on the same page on so many things. We take the same approach when it comes to looking at the tune-up. We want to be consistent and get the most out of the track conditions,” said Hight, who sits No. 8 in the Mello Yello points. “We have been testing a few things and we have had a few mechanical issues this season. Every team has the same problems we just have had all of ours in the last seven weeks. Getting a couple of races back to back after a weekend off will be good for us.”
Hight’s best finish at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals was a runner-up finish in 2008 to Tony Pedregon. In 2010 he lost a close race to John Force in the semi-finals. His record for the previous eight races is 9-8 with back to back first round losses the past two seasons despite qualifying No. 6 and No. 2. The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS has started from the No. 1 spot three times in Norwalk and has only one bottom half of the field start.
“Performance has not been our problem in Norwalk. I am as focused as I have ever been on going rounds. With just a couple spot open for the Traxxas Shootout I want to get a win to guarantee a spot along with John Force who is already in. This is the twelfth race of the season and now is the time to start making a move to get some momentum for these last few regular season races,” concluded Hight.
COURTNEY FORCE EXCITED TO BE HEADED INTO SUMMER STARTING IN NORWALK
NORWALK, OH (July 1, 2015) --- The twelfth stop along the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello series tour will take Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team to Norwalk, Ohio for the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, held over Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“We always get a great crowd at the track on 4th of July weekend so I'm looking forward to having a great race and getting to meet all the fans,” said Force. “Being that Norwalk has been a tricky track for our team in the past and we've struggled making consistent runs here, I hope we can learn a lot based on our collection of data and lay down some consistent numbers this weekend.
Two years ago, Force drove her hot rod to a No. 10 qualifying position with a 4.106 ET at 312.86 mph, but stepped it up on race day to take down veterans Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca III and advance to the semi-finals. Last year, Force qualified in the No. 12 spot, but suffered tire smoke in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
“We've been to the semi-finals here and qualified in the top half in the past so I know our team knows how to get our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS running on this track. I'm eager to get back and turn things around this weekend.
“Because of all the changes we have made to our car since last season, and with the help of test days, I'm excited to see how our Chevy Camaro SS will perform on a track like this. I'm confident that we have a better shot at going rounds here this year than we had in the past,” said Force.
So far this season, Force has qualified at the top of the Funny Car field twice and qualified in the top half of the field seven times before entering race day. Since her rookie year in 2012, Force has qualified No. 1 eight times, gone to 13 final rounds and picked up the most wins by a female in Funny Car with seven.
“This track is always exciting to race at because of the atmosphere. Being that we race over the 4th of July, you get a fun atmosphere of fans all weekend long. The drivers are excited to put on a good race for the fans who come out to watch us and celebrate the holiday weekend. It's fun getting to race on a weekend like this and celebrate our great country. This gives the drivers a whole new level of motivation to let everyone have a fun and safe weekend with their families out at the track,” said Force.
NORWALK SUCCESS NEXT STOP FOR BRITTANY FORCE AND MONSTER ENERGY
NORWALK, OH (June 29, 2015) --- Since adding Monster Energy to the side of her 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel Dragster Brittany Force has been on a rocket ship ride which is the perfect metaphor heading into this weekend’s July 4th NHRA race. The third year driver was lingering outside the Top Ten in the Mello Yello point standings just four races ago but a string of strong race day successes has Force No. 8 in the Mello Yello points and buoyed with confidence heading into the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
“We got Monster Energy on our John Force Racing Top Fuel dragster and it has been awesome since Atlanta. My team has so much confidence now and I think it has a lot to do with having a sponsor like Monster Energy. The first part of the season we were being a little conservative because we were racing on a tight budget and we didn’t want to put push too hard on the parts. Now we can be more aggressive and I think you are seeing that success translate into round wins,” said Force.
A runner-up finish at the famed Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey has been the season highlight so far. There were semi-final finishes in Topeka, Kansas and Epping, New Hampshire on either side of that near win. For the third year driver in one of the most competitive Top Fuel fields in the modern era the successes have been enjoyed and well deserved.
“You look at the level of competition out there and we are surrounded by world championship caliber teams and drivers. In the Top Ten in points four of the guys in front of me have won the Mello Yello Top Fuel championships and the other guys have been runner-up a couple times. When you get round wins over these guys it is a big deal. I am so proud of how hard my crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson have been working on this Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster,” said Force.
Last year Force qualified No. 9 and raced to the second round on the strength of a win over Spencer Massey in the opening session. Her race day was halted by Shawn Langdon in the second round but Force’s enthusiasm for the family friendly race in Norwalk was not diminished.
“I love racing in Norwalk. My dad has been match racing at the Night Under Fire of years and the fireworks display is always amazing. I know it will be hot but it will be hot for everyone. The key is to keep your cool when you are behind the wheel and just drive. I have been working on my reaction times and I am starting to see some success so I will be ready,” added Force.