DOMINANT AND DEFIANT JOHN FORCE READY KEEP UP PRESSURE AT BRISTOL DRAGWAY
BRISTOL, TN (June 17, 2015) --- Earlier this week John Force a well-known movie-goer watched the latest summer blockbuster, Jurassic World, in advance of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. The 16-time NHRA Funny Car world champion will often draw inspiration from movies and weave them into his enthusiastic team meetings or top end interviews. Jurassic World almost gave Force a sense of Déjà vu with regards to his recent battles with his rivals at Don Schumacher Racing.
Speaking on The Straight Line with Doug Herbert and Marty Hough radio show on Wednesday Force recounted some of his recent on-track battles back to the dinosaur filled thrill ride of a movie.
“A couple races ago Schumacher sent all his raptors after me, referring to the team of four Funny Cars under the banner of Don Schumacher Racing, and I almost got them all in Topeka. I beat three of the four DSR Funny Cars on Sunday but I couldn’t get past that last one. Last weekend I had to take out a couple of them again and I got the win. I love racing Schumacher Racing Funny Cars. I have to be at the top of my game. I get excited to try and go out and beat them,” said Force.
In Epping, New Hampshire Force captured his second win of the season and his first at New England Dragway. The win closed out another chapter in Force’s iconic career when you consider that New England Dragway was the last track where the 143-time Funny Car winner had not won at least one race.
“I needed that race win. One of these days I am going to go out and it is going to break my heart but I ain’t leaving until I win all of them and now I’ll try and win all of them twice. (Epping) was a great day. My daughter spanked me in the inaugural race and I tried to screw her up in the first race but I couldn’t do it. I taught her too well. I am giving this trophy to Peak Antifreeze and Coolant and BlueDef,” said Force after the win. “They were the first ones to take a chance on me last year. Lucas Oil and Chevrolet joined us and now Monster Energy is with us. We have Auto Club, Mac Tools and Traxxas and all these great companies share in this win.”
The win in the new look blue Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was the first for the new primary sponsor. It also marked just the third primary sponsor win for Force when you consider 141 of his race wins came under the Castrol sponsorship and he added his first win in a Chevrolet logoed Funny Car earlier this season in Las Vegas.
Force has jumped from 7th to 3rd place in the Mello Yello point standings and is just 33 points out of 2nd place. The dramatic move up the points along with continued trips to the winner’s circle has motivated the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“I have a young crew chief with Jon Schaffer and I have a whole new team of young guys running this Peak Chevy Camaro. I have to show them I still have the heart for the fight. I have been out here longer than some of them have been alive. They give me energy and a great race car and I just want to give them my best,” said an enthusiastic Force.
Last year at the Thunder Valley Nationals Force qualified No. 7 and lost to Alexis DeJoria in the first round. The year before was an epic Father’s Day weekend as Force outran his youngest daughter Courtney in round one and won race after qualifying 6th. Force took out Matt Hagan then Blake Alexander before beating Cruz Pedregon in the final. For his first of 2013 which would end up as Force’s 16th Mello Yello championship season.
HIGHT REVVING UP FOR THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS
BRISTOL, TN (June 17, 2015) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team are making positive moves at the perfect time of the season. Coming off of their best qualifying performance of the season a No. 5 start in Epping the 2009 Funny Car champion is looking to continue to improve at one of the most historic stops on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Bristol Dragway.
“Thunder Valley and especially Bristol Dragway has so much history surrounding it, a lot of legendary drivers started their careers here and won here. We have had some success here but this year I think we are really focused on qualifying well and then going rounds on Sunday,” said Hight, who sits No. 7 in the Mello Yello point standings.
Last year Hight and the Auto Club team qualified No. 4 and lost in second round. Their best finish at the Thunder Valley Nationals was their lone win in the valley in 2011. Hight qualified No. 6 and then proceeded to take out Ron Capps, Mike Neff, and Jeff Arend before he outran Jack Beckman in the final.
“The 2011 win was big because this was a track where I wanted to get a Wally. There are significant races and race tracks like the Gatornationals, Indy and the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. I put Thunder Valley and Bristol Dragway in that category,” said Hight.
So far in 2015 Hight has had a roller coaster ride which he hopes will begin picking up speed again starting this weekend. He has three semi-final finishes (Pomona, Phoenix and Houston) as well as a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. Last weekend he broke a streak of three consecutive early exits by taking out Tony Pedregon in the first round before falling to teammate Courtney Force.
“We qualified well in Epping and we were hoping to have a long day on Sunday. You hate to race your teammates early and we just came up short in the second round. The good news is we are getting more consistent and figuring a few things out. We started the season very strong and now we have been trying a few things,” said Hight.
With two open positions for the Traxxas Funny Car Nitro Shootout Hight has been encouraged by John Force’s performance especially his recent win in Epping. Hight was runner-up to Force in the Shootout last year and would like to get his own Shootout trophy.
“Our whole team is aware we have had some close calls with getting one of those last spots in the Traxxas Shootout. In a perfect world Courtney and I would get the last guaranteed spots. I think we have a good chance of going rounds in Bristol as long as we can continue to make strong runs in qualifying. This class is so tough that if you start off the week a little slow it is tough to catch up,” added Hight.
On Thursday afternoon Hight will participate in the pre-race Bristol Dragway Celebrity Trapshooting Charity event at Kettlefoot Rod and Gun Club beginning at 2 p.m. If there was a victim of Hight’s total commitment to his racing career, it was his “other life” as a world class marksman.
One of a small number of shooters to have achieved the Grand Slam of marksmanship – 200 consecutive targets at the standard 16-yard distance, 100 at the maximum handicap distance (27 yards) and 100 doubles (two targets at once), Hight was good enough to be considered for a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.
“I am looking forward to shooting before the event. There is a lot of cross over from trapshooting to driving with regards to concentration and reaction time. It should be a fun event and I am looking forward to it,” said Hight.
FOR THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS CONFIDENCE AND EXCITEMENT FUEL MONSTER ENERGY TEAM
BRISTOL, TN (June 17, 2015) ---- In just over a month the fortunes of Brittany Force and her third year Top Fuel dragster team have changed so dramatically that the 2013 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner has to calm herself down before she buckles in to her 10,000 horsepower race car. At the Southern Nationals Force announce Monster Energy as her new primary sponsor and since that race she has raced to two semi-final finishes and a runner-up at the prestigious Summernationals.
Last weekend the No. 10 qualifier out pedaled Doug Kalitta in the first round and then outran Richie Crampton in the second round. In the semi-final race Force came up 1/100Th of a second short in her race against three-time Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon. Force solidified her position in the Mello Yello Top Ten and will head to Bristol Dragway as the No. 8 driver in points.
“Looking back at the last three races I think this Monster Energy team is on fire right now. We have never performed like this. It is more than just performance this whole team has pulled together. We are pushing our dragster during qualifying and then showing up on race day and going rounds. I am very proud of the entire team especially my crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson. They had to be patient all year long because we couldn’t push the car because we didn’t have the funding. Now with Monster Energy we can really press it. Overall it was a great weekend and you can’t complain about going to two semi-finals and a final in the last three races. We are ready to get to Bristol and that is one of my favorite tracks.”
With most families at the track celebrating Father’s Day at Bristol Dragway the weekend will have special meaning for Brittany and her sister Courtney Force. That fact adds an extra element for Force, whose father and 16-time Funny Car world champion, John Force, is a five-time winner in Thunder Valley. It makes for a special weekend at the popular track and Brittany Force knows what her first victory on that weekend would mean for the entire family.
“Being able to head to the track with my dad on race day makes Father’s Day so special,” Force said. “My dad has been racing since before I was a baby and there's no place he would rather be than out at his real home, the racetrack. Father’s Day at the race track always makes the day exciting! I just hope my sister (Funny Car standout Courtney Force) and I can give him the ultimate gift, bringing home a Wally.”
The success of the team and the confidence shown by Brittany Force feed off of each other and have the Yorba Linda, Calif., native ready to win four rounds on Sunday. Force has been a constant student and this season she has stepped up her focus on cutting a better reaction time against the starting Christmas Tree. The results have been evident in hole-shot wins in recent races.
“I have been working on my reaction time and I think that over the last three races I have stepped that up. That comes from all around confidence from the entire team. When you start going rounds you hop in your car and feel like you are going to win rounds,” added a confident Force.
COURTNEY FORCE READY TO HIT FULL STRIDE IN BRISTOL
BRISTOL, TN (June 17, 2015) --- Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team led by Ron Douglas and Dan Hood advanced to the semi-finals in Epping and made some headway in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car point standings. Now, the young driver is anxious to hit the last stop along a three-race swing and get back on track at Bristol Dragway for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
“I think we definitely made some big strides this past weekend in Epping with going to the semi-finals and closing in on that gap to get into the Top 10. We hope to close it in further in Bristol this weekend by gathering points throughout qualifying, but we need to continue to have a consistent car and I need to stay on my game. We are motivated to make this weekend our jump into the Top 10.
“My dad beat me in 2013 at this track and it's always even worse when your race day is cut short due to your own teammate taking you down, especially when it's your dad. Although he's coming off a win in Epping we are hoping to meet him in the final this year to get a little revenge on him from last time here,” said Force.
The Traxxas athlete, who turns 27-years-old this weekend, is enthusiastic about celebrating Father’s Day and her birthday all in one weekend, and more importantly, at the race track doing what the whole Force family loves.
“Not only is it Father's Day,” said Force. “But I also get to celebrate my birthday this weekend with my dad and wouldn't want to be anywhere other than a race track. It's going to be great spending this weekend in a race car, but I hope our team can top it off with a win.”
Last year in Bristol, Force qualified in the No. 6 position and took down Jack Beckman in the opening round with a 4.199 ET at 302.35 mph. In the second round, Force paired up with Tony Pedregon. They left the line together, but Force’s early numbers were quicker until the Traxxas Funny Car went up in tire smoke. The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team sits just 12 points, less than one round, out of the No. 10 position in points.
“Although we've struggled at this track in the past, I believe we have a car that can overcome that obstacle this weekend,” she said. “We've built our confidence back up and are going into this weekend staying positive in knowing we've got a competitive race car,” said Force.