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May 19, 2014 - 06:13 AM
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2014 NHRA: Hight Tops For JFR Going Into Race Day In Atlanta
Posted by: newsla on May 19, 2014 - 06:13 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: Hight Tops For JFR Going Into Race Day In Atlanta


Robert Hight and the Auto Club Mustang started and ended qualifying on a high note at the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals. They were second quickest of the first session and on Saturday they made the quickest run of the category in the final session to go into race day with a lot of confidence and momentum. His best time of the weekend a blistering 4.03 second run has the 2009 Funny Car champion in the No. 3 position.

 

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“Last night we didn’t really learn anything and we messed up last run in Q3. It is a must to go into race day with two good runs. We made a good run early on Friday. I am sure there is more out there than a 4.03 but Mike Neff played it smart and put the Auto Club Ford in a great spot going into tomorrow,” said Hight.

Hight is riding a streak of five finals in a row and three wins this season. He has won the last two races the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte and the Spring Nationals in Houston. Hight has had much success in Atlanta and his first round match-up with journeyman Bob Bode will not be an easy match-up.

During today’s third qualifying session, John Force ran beside fellow Ford Funny Car racer Tim Wilkerson. As John’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang left the starting line, the massive Goodyear slicks broke loose at the 100 foot mark and went up in smoke. In the next lane, Tim suffered a massive engine explosion at half-track that blew the body off the chassis. Luckily Force was not close enough to Wilkerson on the run for any ill effects. Wilkerson exited from his damaged Funny Car unharmed.

“Jimmy Prock and the guys keep a lid on us drivers, as we like to show off some, but I just rolled further up to the starting line and did my burnout a little bit longer. There was a quite show down there as Wilkerson’s car went off like a grenade and was throwing parts at me like you wouldn’t believe. I think when you don’t get hurt; it is good luck, no matter what happens,” said Force. “I was on the starting line last night when my daughter Brittany was racing Antron Brown. She smoked the tires and we said ‘Oh my God’, then Antron crashed and we again said, ‘Oh my God’. Luckily, he didn’t T-Bone my kid as he was in enough trouble down there but luckily he was okay.”

Hoping to improve on Force’s qualifying position, Prock hopped up the 8000 horsepower Castrol High GTX High Mileage Mustang even more to take advantage of the improving weather conditions in the final qualifying session. Unfortunately, at the hit of the throttle, Force lost traction on the Atlanta Dragway surface and went up in smoke.

“Not getting down the race track like I wanted to hurts us. We need more consistency, and we’re snake bit here a little, but we’re still second in the points and Robert’s in the lead. We’ll get this hot rod tuned up for tomorrow,” said John Force, who will face Tim Wilkerson in round one on Sunday.

Courtney Force and the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car team stepped it up in the fourth and final qualifying session running 4.098 seconds which put the 2012 Rookie of the Year in the No. 7 spot. She will have lane choice over the No. 10 qualified car of Cruz Pedregon in the opening round on race day.

“This Traxxas team is pumped up. We’re ready; we’re excited for tomorrow. We had two good runs throughout qualifying which is big for us. We struggled a lot at the start of the season and it feels good to have a car sailing down the track and running a 4.09. It’s not the best run of the weekend, but we’re excited to see the car improving because that just means that we’re starting to get things figured out. It feels good to see two consistent runs. We’re building off them,” said Force.

In the first qualifying session to kick off the 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, Force posted a 4.182 second elapsed time at a big speed of 310.48 mph and for a moment, had top speed of the meet in the Funny Car category until her brother-in-law and teammate, Robert Hight, took it away. The Traxxas Ford Mustang team came back in sessions two and three with tire-smoking efforts, which left the team in the No. 9 position before posting a quick 4.098 in the last qualifying shot of the day to put her in the No. 6 spot.

“Last night we pushed it a little too hard in the cool air and the car didn’t respond like we wanted. Tonight we came out and ran a 4.09 to put us in the top half of the field so we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” added Force.

In the past two years of Force’s Funny Car career, she has qualified No. 6 and No. 9 at Atlanta Dragway. The Traxxas Ford Mustang team is currently sitting No. 10 in the NHRA Funny Car point standings and looks forward to racing tomorrow’s events and possibly the 100th win by a woman in the NHRA.

“We’re just going to try to make little changes and see if we can continuously get this Traxxas Ford Mustang to improve each round and hopefully go as many rounds as we can tomorrow. Tomorrow is a big day, not only for all the racers competing, but for the female of our sport. We’re all going after that 100th win by a woman. There’s some tough competition. It’s going to be exciting with all of these females out here going for it, especially since the girls are running so strong. We’ll see what happens. We’re just going to focus on our first round tomorrow against Cruz and give him all we got,” said Force.

With a career best ET of 3.777 seconds at over 325 mph, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Dragster came from the No. 10 spot to claim the No. 3 position during the third qualifying session at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Along the way, Brittany also picked up two NHRA Mello Yello qualifying bonus points.

“I’m so excited to be able to come out and run a number like that. It’s a career best, and it’s so awesome and I’m just so proud of my Castrol EDGE team. We have a new car this weekend and after running Antron last night, I was right behind him and it scared me to see his crash, so I was a little nervous up on the starting line before this run. But for us to run this good says a lot about my guys,” said Brittany Force.

On the fourth and final qualifying pass, Brittany Force showed consistent performance as her Castrol EDGE Dragster ran a strong 3.783 second pass at 326.71 mph. Even with the new chassis and some fresh faces on her crew, the 2013 NHRA Rookie of Year has been rock solid, made two excellent runs and is set for race day. Also, despite going from the No. 3 to the No. 6 qualifying spot, Brittany will have lane choice for round one of Sunday’s eliminations when she’ll face off for the first time against Pat Dakin.

“I’m very excited going into race day tomorrow. When you bring out a new race car, you never know what to expect. To come out on our first run yesterday and go 3.90 was pretty exciting. Then to improve and run a 3.77 and a 3.78, we have a fast race car and are looking forward to getting going. I’m learning about this car and getting comfortable as a driver, but this team is really going to have it together and we’re going to have this car running real good,” said Brittany Force.

With the 100th victory for a female NHRA Pro driver on the minds of some of the drivers this weekend, Brittany Force and her crew chief Todd Smith are focused on going rounds and making it to another final round appearance.

“Right now, my biggest concern is the first win for the Castrol EDGE team and that is my focus. Now, if we’re able to do that and also tie in the 100th female win, that would be pretty awesome, but for right now, all I want for this team is bring home our first win,” said Brittany Force.

For crew chief Todd Smith, who tunes the Castrol EDGE Dragster, this milestone can also be a daunting challenge; he doesn’t let it skew his judgment when making sure the car is ready for race day.
“It’s on our minds, as we’d love Brittany or Courtney to get that milestone, but for us, it’s business as usual. For crew chiefs, it’s go out and race the track, get the car prepped and do the best job you can do. It’s definitely a team effort, everyone knows how hard this is and you got to get a group of guys that work well together. It also takes a huge effort from everybody top to bottom, and we’re getting there. Brittany’s doing a great job and the more times she goes down the track, the more comfortable she is in the car. Hopefully Brittany can get her first win and that 100th female victory,” said Todd Smith.


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