JOHN FORCE CONSISTENT AND CONFIDENT HEADING INTO SUNDAY AND BRITTANY FORCE No. 2 IN TOP FUEL
CHARLOTTE, NC – John Force has the most consistent race car going into Sunday’s elimination rounds at the 9th annual Carolina NHRA Nationals that the 2-time 2016 winner has had all season. Force’s Advance Auto Parts PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was one of the top three quickest Funny Cars every session of qualifying earning a total of eight qualifying bonus points. Force will go into race day as the No. 3 qualifier and will face Dave Richards in the first round.
Joining Force in the top half of the Funny Car field will be Robert Hight, No. 7 and Courtney Force, No. 8 qualifier. JFR could advance three Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Cars to the semifinals.
In Force’s final two qualifying runs the 145-time winner had the second quickest race car and picked up four qualifying bonus points. In the final session he blasted down the track with an impressive 3.914 second elapsed time. This was the first time this season that Force collected qualifying bonus points in every session and he was the only Mello Yello Series driver to achieve that feat this weekend at zMax Dragway.
“This race car is running now. It struggled the last three races. We mixed it up over here adding Jason McCulloch to work with Jon Schaffer and Nick Casertano. We got some more help and my guys are really working well together,” said Force from his pits at the end of the day.
Force will face non-Countdown qualified driver Dave Richards in the opening round of eliminations. This will be only the fifth round of eliminations this season that Force has faced a non-Countdown qualified Funny Car, the fewest such match-ups of any Countdown Funny Car driver. This is Force’s best starting position since he was No. 2 in 2009 and 2010.
John Force Racing president and two-time Carolina NHRA Nationals winner Robert Hight will start from the No. 7 position tomorrow. On Friday night Hight secured his best elapsed time of 3.912 seconds under the lights at zMax Dragway. Today the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car was aggressively attacking the track and while they may not have seen the results on the scoreboard Hight was confident about his race car for Sunday.
“Knocking the blower off on the first run yesterday made us have to be cautious on the second run last night. We made a good run but today we didn’t’ quite get it perfect on our two runs in the heat. (Crew chief) Mike Neff was trying some things that he believes will help us tomorrow. We are going to be in the heat all day. Let the games begin,” said Hight.
Hight’s final run of the day was a solid 3.985 seconds at only 297 mph. The 37-time winner shut the motor off before the finish line. In the first round Hight will have a tough match-up with two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon. Hight is 24-13 against Pedregon over his career. At the Carolina Nationals Hight is 1-1 against Pedregon dropping a first round race in 2011 and winning a quarterfinal race in 2013 on his way to victory.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car were on a strong pass in the third qualifying session when the Goodyear tires hazed themselves at about 600 feet. Force’s early numbers were impressive and Force’s Traxxas team led by Danny Hood and Ronnie Thompson continued to work on a race day tune up. The scoreboard lit up after 4.549 seconds but her team knew they picked up some valuable info on how much power the race track could handle in the heat.
In the final session today Courtney was in the quickest side by side run of the day with Tim Wilkerson. Force lit up the scoreboard with an impressive 3.934 second elapsed time. At the end of the day the youngest Force was encouraged by her race cars performance and her chances on the first day of the Countdown to the Championship.
“We are qualified in the No. 8 spot. We tried to push it on those two runs. We didn’t have the conditions we had last night. I am excited we have a pretty consistent race car and we made that 3.93 run on a hot track. I think we are in a pretty good position going into race day. We are qualified exactly where we wanted to be but we were able to pick up a bonus point yesterday,” said Force, who is No. 4 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings. “We’ll have lane choice tomorrow and this is a huge race for this Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro team. We have a brand new paint scheme on this Chevy which the fans love. The Countdown to the championship starts tomorrow we are looking to go some rounds so we can start creating a gap on our competitors. We need to make it count tomorrow.”
Force will face Matt Hagan in the first round in a monster match-up with championship implications. While a first round loss would not derail either driver’s championship hopes the importance of a first round win is critical. The last time Force faced Hagan was in the semifinal round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout where Force was victorious.
The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster will start the race as the best qualified John Force Racing entry. Brittany Force powered her 10,000 hp dragster to the No. 2 qualified position. On Friday night she made a strong run and was only out distanced by Doug Kalitta. As track temperatures soared today there was no movement at the top of the field and while Force’s Monster Energy entry did not gran the top spot the team did position itself for a strong performance tomorrow.
In the first session today Force was the third quickest driver and in the final session crew chief Brian Husen put in an aggressive tune-up and hazed the tires just past half-track. The team will be able to look at that data and put together a very competitive tune-up for Sunday. The last time Force was in elimination rounds at zMax Dragway the fourth year pro was on her way to winning the second Top Fuel race of her career at the Four-Wide Nationals.
“It is pretty crazy to think that this is the first race of the Countdown. It seems like we were just here winning in Charlotte a few weeks ago. This is a good race track for us. We won the Four-Wide so I am hoping we can get another win here at the first race of the Countdown. That would be awesome,” said Force who has three wins this season. “We are qualified No. 2 and we have Chris Karamesines in the first round. I have to thank this Monster Energy team. They have been putting everything they have into this Top Fuel dragster and we’ll be ready to go after it tomorrow.”
Force will be looking for her first round win at the Carolina Nationals. Final eliminations will begin at noon.
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NHRA ON TV
Sunday, Sept. 18, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 18, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
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JOHN FORCE, 67, Advance Auto Parts/PEAK Antifreeze 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 3.881, 331.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +8 (Quickest of Q1, 3rd quickest of Q2 and 2nd quickest of Q3 and Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Dave Richards (2-0)
ROBERT HIGHT, 47, Auto Club 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 7th at 3.912, 323.66 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Cruz Pedregon (24-13)
COURTNEY FORCE, 28, Traxxas 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 8th at 3.934, 322.81 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q1)
First round opponent (W-L): Matt Hagan (10-8)
BRITTANY FORCE, 30, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 2nd at 3.729, 324.67 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (2nd quickest of Q2 and 3rd quickest of Q3)
First round opponent (W-L): Chris Karamesines (3-1)