J. FORCE READY FOR CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE ON SUNDAY IN POMONA
POMONA, CA – The battle for the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Championship is shaping up to be a dogfight of epic proportions for John Force. The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello champ is looking to rack up another title to his impressive racing resume but he knows it will take going rounds and a little bit of luck to claim that victory. It will be against his arch rival Matt Hagan and with Force trailing in the 23 points behind Hagan going into race day, he knows he’ll have to go rounds – especially since he and Hagan are on opposite sides of the eliminations ladder.
“I’m in the hunt for this championship for all my sponsors – old, new, everybody. We want to win this for Castrol and Ford - they’ve been great to us and are like family. Therefore, we’re going to fight tomorrow and get this championship,” said John Force.
John Force would end up in the fifth spot with a stout 4.015 second pass he ran on the opening session on Friday. Despite trying to step up the Castrol High Mileage Mustang’s performance, he could not improve on that time during the three other qualifying sessions. Force will face fellow Mustang driver Bob Tasca III in the opening round and these two Ford racers have done battle five teams this season with Force claiming victory in three of those matchups.
However, it was on the fourth and final session that Force wanted to step up his game and see if he could be in the top three for the session and grab some NHRA Mello Yello Bonus Points. Unfortunately, Force’s 8000 horsepower BOSS 500 engine in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang went silent just past the 330-foot mark at Auto Club Raceway and only ran a 7.906 second run at 85.51 mph. However his rival, Matt Hagan, ran a 4.034 second run and that session and grabbed one bonus point.
“He (Hagan) ran good on that session, he was third and picked up a point but that doesn’t matter. I needed a point to get me away from rounds so now I need to go some rounds on him but nobody knows how to do that better than me. I want to close this deal out tomorrow and win this for Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Traxxas and all my great sponsors,” said John Force.
The winningest driver in NHRA history knows it will be a battle and he, along with the Castrol GTX High Mileage team, are fully prepared to use the weapon in their arsenal to bring home another NHRA world championship. For John Force, he’s not just racing for his sponsors, he’s racing from the heart and come Sunday’s eliminations, he’ll be ready to take on all challengers. If Force is victorious tomorrow, it will be career win number 142 and an unprecedented 17th NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship.Not bad for a former truck driver.
Robert Hight will race teammate Courtney Force in the first round. Hight hazed the tires in both sessions and slipped back to the No. 8 position at the end of the day. Conditions were stellar and all the Funny Car teams were aggressively attacking the race track. The Auto Club team overpowered the track today but they are confident going into race day.
“I don’t like having to race a teammate in the first round for sure. The conditions were so good you really had to be aggressive. We can pull it back and get this Auto Club Mustang ready for tomorrow. This is my sponsor’s race and they also sponsor the race track so we have two goals tomorrow; get the Funny Car championship for John Force Racing and get one of these JFR Funny Cars in the winner’s circle,” said Hight.
With a strong showing tomorrow Hight and the Auto Club team could finish as high as third in the Mello Yello point standings.
The Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car team with driver Courtney Force stepped it up today when it really mattered most. They came into Saturday not qualified and made two great passes to qualify and wrap-up the day in the No. 9 spot.
“We went back to basics today and turned things around for the better. We came out and ran a 4.09 on the first run. Looked to improve on the second run and we did just that with a 4.05. We even kind of settled it down; we probably should have gone a little bit harder in that cool air. It’s tough in that right lane and I think we did a good job handling it and came close to picking up a bonus point on that pass,” said Force.
Force will face her teammate Robert Hight in the opening round on Sunday. This is their eleventh match-up, their fourth this season. The last time they raced each other was the second round of the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals and Courtney took the win. She is currently 4-6 against Hight.
“We got qualified. It was a tough field out here this weekend for the Auto Club finals with a 22 car field. I’m just proud of my Traxxas Ford Mustang team for making it in the show. It’s definitely been a tough weekend out here for all out teams and I’m just proud to see our car get down this race track today.
“Tomorrow is a big day for my dad. He’s going after a championship, but right now I’m going to have to face Robert Hight, my teammate in the first round and it’s going to be tough. We definitely need to win first round if we want to stay ahead,” said Force.
Despite some good runs this weekend, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Dragster will be sidelined this Sunday as the 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year was unable to make the field at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. Brittany Force was running a new car this weekend and the despite the team’s best efforts, couldn’t get a handle on the track conditions. Regardless, it doesn’t diminish the strong season the sophomore Top Fuel driver has had wheeling her 10,000 horsepower race car to over 300 mph in under four seconds.
“We’re definitely bummed we didn’t make the show this weekend. We wanted to end the season by going rounds and even making it to the finals. On the third session it shook the tires and I got out of it. I didn’t see the point of pedaling the throttle and possible hurting the car and doing or damage as it rattle pretty hard,” said Force.
“Going into the final qualifying session, we weren’t in the show so my guys just wanted to set the car up so it would make a clean run all the way down the track. Unfortunately it was too soft and only ran a 3.91 second run and it wasn’t good enough to get in the field. I’m still proud of the season the Castrol EDGE team has had, all my guys worked hard and never gave up,” concluded Force.
The Castrol EDGE team was fighting the new chassis and trying to figure out the clutch and engine combinations that would get the most power to the pavement at Auto Club Raceway. In today’s first session, Brittany’s dragster shook and rattled and only ran an 8.277 second pass at 74.44 mph. Team leaders Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli along with the crew regrouped on for the fourth session. As Brittany Force left the starting line for the final session, the Castrol EDGE Dragster was on a good run as it went straight down the track. Unfortunately, it only ran a 3.917 second pass which wasn’t quite enough to get into the 16 car field.
Brittany Force will root for her legendary father John Force, sister Courtney and brother-in-law Robert Hight from the starting during Sunday’s eliminations. She’s already looking for the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and is counting down the days until the season opener NHRA Winternationals in Pomona.
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JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 5th at 4.015 seconds at 316.60 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Bob Tasca III (9-11)
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 8th at 4.036 seconds at 317.49 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Courtney Force (6-4)
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 9th at 4.055 seconds at 316.60 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Robert Hight (4-6)
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 18th quickest at 3.917 seconds at 306.26 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0