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Feb 06, 2014 - 06:06 AM
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2014 NHRA: JFR Winternationals Pre-Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Feb 06, 2014 - 06:04 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: JFR Winternationals Pre-Race Preview


The NHRA Mello Yello Series 24-race schedule begins this week with the 54th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. Defending Winternationals Champion, Courtney Force, has had one busy off season, but the 25-year-old Traxxas Funny Car pilot is looking to win this weekend, making it two-in-a-row for her Ford Mustang team.

 

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At the 2013 Winternationals, Force qualified in the No. 1 spot and dismissed Phil Burkart Jr., Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, and Ron Capps to claim the title and become just the second woman in NHRA history (after older sister Ashley Force Hood) to lead the Funny Car point standings.

“I'm excited to be going into Pomona as the defending champ in Funny Car and I absolutely cannot wait to get our Traxxas Ford Mustang back on a familiar track. It's great coming out here because this is my home track and I'm excited to kick off the new year in hopes of taking home another win at the Winternationals,” said the youngest daughter of legend John Force.

This is her third year racing in the Top Fuel Funny Car category. The 2012 Auto Club Rookie of the Year has three national event wins under her belt, three No. 1 qualifiers and eight final rounds. In the past two years, Force has qualified for each event on the circuit and has won 53 rounds of racing on Sunday.

“It's crazy to think I'm already going into my third year of Funny Car. Every season I learn something new and I'm eager to get back out there and see what we can accomplish this year. Each year, I set my standards for myself a little higher and hope to continue to improve as a driver, but as a team, we have our eyes set on that Championship,” said Force.
John Force Racing teams traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla. For pre-season testing, putting them back on track to win their 19th team championship in 2014.

“We tested in West Palm Beach to prepare for the upcoming season and as a driver, I'm back at it in the gym. I’m working out to be physically prepared as well as practicing my reaction times to be more mentally prepared for getting back in the seat and driving,” said Force.

Both Courtney and her sister Brittany will take part in the NHRA press conference in Pasadena before the race weekend starts and participating in various media opportunities in the area.

“It was a long off-season so I'm more than ready to be back piloting my Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car. I'm eager to be back on the road and back in my routine- that's the hardest part when you've been out of the seat for so long. I need to get back in, brush the dust off and hopefully pick up from where I left off in November,” said Force.

BRITTANY FORCE READY TO START SOPHOMORE TOP FUEL SEASON

POMONA, Calif. – When the 10,000 horsepower BOSS 500 engine of the Castrol EDGE Dragster fires up at the 2014 Circle K NHRA Winternationals, February 7-9, it will not be soon enough for driver Brittany Force, who is pumped and ready to climb back into the cockpit. There is also a renewed focus for the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year as she will be a serious player going into her sophomore season in the highly competitive Top Fuel class. She will be rolling into Auto Club Raceway with a newly canopied Top Fuel Dragster and a new crew chief Todd Smith.

“I am looking forward to racing with Todd Smith as my crew chief. Guido (Dean Antonelli) is still working on my car and I they will work really well together. We made some good laps during testing and I am ready to get the season started,” said Force who narrowly missed the Countdown last season.

Looking back, the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello season was a steep learning curve for the newest racing Force. “It was really great to be at the NHRA banquet and take home the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as NHRA’s top rookie, not just for Castrol, but for all of John Force Racing. It really proved all our hard work paid off in the end,” explained Brittany Force. Her consistent driving skills in handling one of the fastest accelerating vehicles on the planet proved to her competitors in the next lane that she meant business.

During the offseason, many drivers are restless and can’t wait for the NHRA season opener in Pomona. All they do is count down the days until they’re back in the seat, strapped in, throw the ignition switch and fire up their supercharged race cars ready to assault the drag strip like a guided missile. Force is just like the drivers she races against, with a competitive spirit deep within their soul that’s adrenalin fueled. “It was nice to get some down time once the season ended and hang out with my family and friends. But after a while, you start to get bored and want to get back on the track. I’m so ready and even anxious to get out to Pomona and get this season started, driving the Castrol EDGE Dragster,” commented Force.

Force, along with her fellow John Force Racing teammates, headed to Palm Beach International Raceway for the PRO Winter Warm Up last month. “It felt great to come down to Florida and test because I haven’t been in the dragster for over two months. Being out of the driver’s seat for that length of time, it feels like taking a step back,” voiced Brittany Force. “I was nervous at first but then I went back into my routine, got focused and then the nerves immediately went away.”

During testing, Brittany also had the opportunity to race her father the first time to the delight of the crowd. “It was very cool to race my dad, I wish the outcome would’ve been different. It was pretty crazy. Just running him that one time makes me think I could never be in Funny Car. We had about 100 pep talks. I was fine going up there. I don’t ever worry or try and think about who I am running. He had me so worked up about him being in the other lane. He was just trying to help me but it was a little too much,” said Brittany Force.

On the eve of heading into Pomona, Brittany is more determined and focused despite the challenges of Top Fuel racing. “I’m still learning something every time I get in the car, but our goal for 2014 is to qualify in the top half of the field at every event and get a few wins for the Castrol EDGE team,” concluded Force.

Pomona is considered a home track for Force. It’s filled with childhood memories of watching her legendary father drive his Funny Cars down the sacred grounds of Auto Club Raceway to numerous wins and championships. With some luck, she will make her own history at this year’s Circle K NHRA Winternationals and pilot her Castrol EDGE Dragster to a victory.

About Castrol
BP Lubricants USA Inc. markets premium lubricants and business–building programs directly to independent lube operators, service providers, new car dealers and leading retailers. Our leadership brands include Castrol® GTX® – a premium conventional motor oil; Castrol® GTX® High–Mileage™ – a premium synthetic blend designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles; the Castrol® EDGE ® line of advanced full-synthetic super premium motor oils that offer unsurpassed strength and performance; as well as our range of commercial transport lubricants. To find out more about Castrol products and programs, please call 1–888–CASTROL or log on to www.castrol.com/us.

JOHN FORCE TO COME OUT SWINGING AT NHRA SEASON OPENER

POMONA, Calif. – In 2013, John Force won his 16th NHRA Funny Car championship, an unprecedented record by any stretch of the imagination. But that was last year and he knows he’ll have a bigger target on his back, even if it’s from fellow team teammates and family members Courtney Force and Robert Hight. As the Castrol/JFR Teams roll into the hallowed grounds of Auto Club Raceway for the 54th running of the NHRA Circle K Winternationals, all eyes will be on this 64-year-old racing icon, but that’s nothing new to John Force as he starts his 37th pro season. He’ll be driving his 8000-horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang in pursuit of a 17th NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car Championship.

At the conclusion of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season, the newly crowned 16-time champion tried to get some R&R with his family but it’s not always that easy. “We didn’t have much of an offseason but it did give us a chance to get caught up on business things. We did spend a couple weeks in Lake Tahoe with the family and that was nice,” said Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history. “We’re still chasing corporate America for 2015 but luckily we’re financially stable right now through the end of this season with Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Traxxas, Mac Tools and others.”

As soon as the ball dropped in Times Square heralding in the New Year, John was itching to get back in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Mustang Funny Car. Before he could slip into his fireproof suit, Force headed to the North American International Auto Show in the Motor City. Force was a guest of Ford Motor Company and took part in the “Behind the Blue Oval” media event. He mixed it up with 2012 NASCAR champ Brad Keselowski and Ford NASCAR racing legends Ned and Dale Jarret. Ken Block, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Brian Deegan and Ozz Negri were also part the Ford Racing discussion. With bloggers and members of the media firing off questions to the drivers, SCCA Trans Am legend Dorsey Schroeder had his hands full being the master of ceremonies during this standing room only event.

From Detroit, Force hopped on a plane and headed Florida for the annual PRO Winter Warm Up at Palm Beach International Raceway. Here, he met up with his fellow team drivers Brittany, Courtney and Robert Hight, and used this event to test a variety of components in their supercharged racing machines before heading west to Pomona. “Being down here testing at Palm Beach International Raceway gives you a head start on the season when it opens at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. A lot of teams don’t have the budgets, they come here, run for a day or two but luckily we can test for five days,” commented Force.

The PRO Winter Warm Up brought nitro Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars to southern Florida and was a real treat for the fans. They also had had a surprise that has hasn’t happened on a drag strip in over a decade, pairing up a Top Fueler and Funny Car. “We had some fun racing Brittany in her Castrol EDGE Dragster in the final. Something the fans haven’t seen since the Winston No-Bull Shootout back in 1999 and 2000. I remember racing (Bob) Vandergriff (Jr.) in his dragster and was lucky enough to get the win despite both of us smoking the tires. I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to race Brittany again in my lifetime so it was very special,” said a thrilled Force.

About Castrol
BP Lubricants USA Inc. markets premium lubricants and business–building programs directly to independent lube operators, service providers, new car dealers and leading retailers. Our leadership brands include Castrol® GTX® – a premium conventional motor oil; Castrol® GTX® High–Mileage™ – a premium synthetic blend designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles; the Castrol® EDGE ® line of advanced full-synthetic super premium motor oils that offer unsurpassed strength and performance; as well as our range of commercial transport lubricants. To find out more about Castrol products and programs, please call 1–888–CASTROL or log on to www.castrol.com/us.

ROBERT HIGHT GEARED UP FOR RUN AT CHAMPIONSHIP STARTING IN POMONA
YORBA LINDA, CA (February 5, 2014) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang will roll into Auto Club Raceway at Pomona ready to continue the dominant streak John Force Racing has established at the season opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals. JFR has won season opening Winternationals twelve times; John Force, 6 times (most recently 2012); Robert Hight, 3 times (most recently 2011); Tony Pedregon, twice and Courtney Force, once (2013). The team has won the last four Winternationals; John Force 2010 and 2012, Robert Hight 2011, and Courtney Force 2013.

“I don’t know what it is but there are some tracks where you just feel really comfortable racing. Auto Club Raceway is one of those places. We have been able to get in the winner’s circle pretty consistently at Auto Club Raceway but we don’t take that for granted. I love racing there and there is so much excitement at the Winternationals. We are ready after a good test session in Florida,” said Hight, who finished 5th in the Mello Yello point standings.

“I know I am always excited to do well at the Winternationals because everyone starts from the same spot in the points. You want to start strong and try and get some momentum. We want to do well for all our sponsors especially Auto Club of Southern California.”

Teamed with crew chief Mike Neff for the first time at the Winternationals Hight is looking forward to a full season with the two-time Mello Yello championship tuner. Last year Hight and Neff were teamed up for the last half of the season and won the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals as well as the NHRA Carolina Nationals.

“Getting the win at the U.S. Nationals and then starting the Countdown with a win in Charlotte were the two highlights for us last year for sure. We didn’t finish the season where we wanted to but you look at how Force got after we won and I don’t know that anyone could have stopped him and Jimmy. We are a team so we win together. Neff and I talked a lot over the off-season and we had a good tests session in Florida. We will be ready,” said Hight.

John Force Racing has won six of last eight Winternationals; Hight, 2006, 2008 and 2011; John Force, 2010 and 2012: Courtney Force, 2013. In 1999 JFR started season with eight consecutive wins; the longest consecutive win streak for team. In 2012 JFR started season with six consecutive wins.

“John got hot at the end of last season and we got hot in Countdown in 2009. We have started the season hot a couple of times but for me I want to be dominant for a whole season. You haven’t seen that in a while and I think it is because this Funny Car class is so competitive. If you go back to 2007 before John won last year there were six different Funny Car champions,” said Hight.

For Hight starting a personal win streak at the 54th annual Circle K Winternationals would start the momentum the 2009 Funny Car champion at one of his favorite tracks.

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