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2014 NHRA: John Force Racing Heads To Kansas NHRA Nationals
Posted by: newsla on May 22, 2014 - 06:09 AM
2014 NHRA: John Force Racing Heads To Kansas NHRA Nationals

With Memorial Day and summer right around the corner Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team are looking to continue their hot streak heading to the 26th annual Kansas NHRA Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. As the Mello Yello Funny Car points leader with four wins including a current streak of three in a row to go along with a streak of six finals in a row no driver in recent memory has started a season this hot unless you consider Hight again.


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"We won four races in a row in 2012 and that was an amazing run. I have never had a finals streak like this and I want to keep putting this Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car in the winner’s circle. Guys like my boss John Force and Don Prudhomme have all the really important streaks. They have championship streaks. We can’t win the Mello Yello Championship this weekend but we can get more data and more runs. That is the name of the game when the Countdown rolls around," said Hight. With his first round victory on Monday at the rain delayed Southern Nationals in Atlanta Hight earned his 300th round win in only his 215th race. He tacked on three more round wins on the way to his 33rd career Funny Car win which moved him within one race of Cruz Pedregon who is No. 5 all-time. Legendary driver Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is No. 4 with 35 career wins.

"I have been lucky that John has given me great equipment and I have a great sponsor with Auto Club. The biggest key has been crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and Mike Neff. Those guys are two of the best in the business and I think two of the best all time. They have won championships with different drivers," said Hight, who was a former crewman on John Force’s championship Funny Car. Heartland Park Topeka has been one of the tracks where Hight has excelled. He has raced to the final round three of the last four years including a runner-up finish to Johnny Gray last season. Hight won back to back in 2010 and 2011. The 2011 win was significant considering it was the 200th Funny Car win for John Force Racing. Since then the team has picked up thirty more Funny Car wins with twelve of those wins in Hight’s ledger.

"I remember that win in 2011 because I was racing Mike Neff who is now my crew chief. It was JFR’s 200th Funny Car win and we were joking before the final about who would get the win. Neff is a great crew chief and he was a really good driver. You don’t win the US Nationals back to back like he did and not know how to driver one of these Funny Cars. He brings so much to this team and working together with him has been great. He makes me a better driver because he knows what the pressure is like. We talk all the time about the car and track conditions," said Hight.

Leading up to the race in Topeka Hight will be meeting with the local media at the NHRA press conference on noon Thursday at the Top of the Tower restaurant (534 S. Kansas Avenue, Topeka, KS Phone: 785-354-7746). Hight knows that the more his team wins the more time he will be losing with added responsibilities. It is a trade-off the 2009 Funny Car champion is willing to make. "Staying focused is the key and has been the key to our success this season. We are hot right now but that can change in a second. You want to win every race and when you get on a roll you get more media requests and more attention. You can’t let that distract you. I am excited to be doing well but I also know that winning is most important," concluded Hight.


16-Time Champ Looking for 140th Career Win at NHRA Kansas Nationals Despite being in second place in the NHRA Mello point chase, the 16-time NHRA World Champ is not happy with his performance. With mechanical gremlins plaguing his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang during the NHRA Southern Nationals last weekend, John Force is ready shake off the bad luck, start fresh and get back to his winning ways at the upcoming NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

"We’ve had a consistency issues with our set up during the last race. I know Jimmy Prock and the rest of the guys are working on it and will get my old hot rod tuned up for Topeka," said John Force.

In his 29 career appearances at this race, John Force has taken his Castrol backed Funny Car to the final round 14 times and has won a record nine times. He’s never failed to qualify and has 69 round wins since the inaugural NHRA Kansas Nationals back in 1989.

At last year’s event, John Force led the team in qualifying and grabbed the top spot with a track record 4.043 second pass. On race day, John Force defeated former teammate Tony Pedregon in the opening round. However, Force was outrun by Jack Beckman due to a wiring malfunction in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the second round.

This year, John Force would like to score his 140th career win at the NHRA Kansas Nationals but that goal is never easy despite having a talent pool that includes crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Danny DeGennaro. John Force knows there’s a target on his back at all times from the highly competitive field of Funny Car drivers that include former world champs and consistent winners like his daughter Courtney Force and son-in-law Robert Hight.

"Robert’s been on a tear, and our other cars (Courtney Force in Funny Car and Brittany Force in Top Fuel) are coming around. I feel as a whole team we have come together, and the brain trust will keep us alive and winning. We have been to every final going back to Indy last year," said John Force. After winning his 16th NHRA Mello Yello world championship in 2013, John Force kicked off the 2014 NHRA tour with a commanding victory at the season opener NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. Once again, crew chief Jimmy Prock showed the world he’s one of the best tuners when it comes to 8000 horsepower fire breathing nitro fueled V8 engines as the Castrol GTX Mustang broke both ends of the NHRA national record by going 3.966 at 324.12 mph.

Following his NHRA Winternationals win, John Force has made a final-round appearance at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida and the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte this year. He knows his crew to make sure his trusty steed tuned-up and ready for whatever conditions it will face during the NHRA Kansas Nationals.


TOPEKA, Kan. (May 20, 2014) - Courtney Force and the Traxxas team appeared in their first final round of 2014 last weekend in Atlanta, putting them in good standing to take down the competition this coming weekend in Topeka, Kan. for the 26th NHRA Kansas Nationals, the eighth of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Series tour. The 25-year-old has qualified No. 8 and No. 2 the past two years at Heartland Park Topeka.

"I feel that my team has made tremendous improvements as a result of this past weekend! We had a more consistent car and were one of the few to make it down the track on every run on race day. I'm so proud of my team and all of their hard work this past weekend. I’m feeling more and more confident in this car and in myself as a driver," said Force. Force trailered three NHRA Champions from eliminations on Monday after the event wash-out on Sunday. Force moved from 10th to 7th place in the Mello Yello point standings and is now just eleven points out of sixth place.

"Some of the best parts of this weekend were seeing how great our team worked together. It was a long weekend and everyone kept each other motivated through the end of the day Monday. We made it to the final round and my team gave me a great car," said Force.

The 2012 Rookie of the Year went up against another NHRA Champion in the final round, her brother-in-law and teammate Robert Hight. The Traxxas team posted a 4.117 ET, the best run in the right lane, but couldn’t stop the red hot Auto Club team.

"We were able to get down in the right lane, which was a struggle for most, and even lay down a decent number to give my teammate Robert Hight a run for his money. It was tough with all the pressure of going after that 100th win for women, which is why it was probably one of the toughest losses for me. That chance won't come around often and I was so close to reaching it. "We are going for it in Topeka. I'm hoping we have made a huge turning point after this weekend. We were able to move up in points and keep from falling out of the top ten. We turned this car around when it was needed most," said Force.

In the Atlanta final round Force was racing for a place in history trying to win the 100th professional race by a female in NHRA history. She will once again be battling not just Alexis DeJoria in Funny Car but also a tough group of women drivers in two other categories. Force’s sister Brittany Force will be trying for her first win along with Leah Pritchett in Top Fuel and Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will be making a run at history as well.


Brittany Force will have another chance to make history if she gets her first Top Fuel win at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals. The 2013 NHRA Rookie of Year is almost midway through her sophomore season wheeling her 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE Dragster and yet she’s primed to drive it to the winner’s circle for her first NHRA Top Fuel victory and potentially be the 100th female professional driver to win a NHRA race.

It’s a milestone Brittany wants to achieve but she knows there’s other female pro drivers including her sister and 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year, Courtney Force, who are just as determined and capable of getting there before her.

"We have an awesome car and I’m ready for these back-to-back races. I still feel like the season hasn’t started or it’s going real slow. The more time I spend in my new car, the better a driver I’ll become and hopefully win some races including that 100th NHRA female win," said Brittany Force. With a new chassis and some fresh faces on the Castrol EDGE crew, the 27 year old driver has been looking forward to the season’s first stretch of back-to-back races. To Brittany, who use to travelling over 300 mph in 1000 feet, the wait between races can be agonizing.

"We qualified great in Atlanta but the rest of the weekend didn’t go real well for us. Therefore, I can’t wait to get to Topeka. I’m so up on energy right now and I’m ready to get back in my race car and keep going. At least we don’t have to take two weeks off before heading to Topeka," said Brittany Force

There’s a good reason why Brittany’s confidence is high going into this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals. She has raced and tested at Heartland Park Topeka many times in both her Super Comp and A/Fuel Dragsters when she was a Sportsman Racer coming up through the NHRA ranks. She’s also piloted her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster down this strip many times.

"Heartland Park Topeka is a track I’ve always felt comfortable at racing. Being my second year in Top Fuel, I have some familiarity with this drag strip but having a new car, I want to be in it as much as possible because right now, I’m still getting comfortable with it. It still feels new and it doesn’t feel like my car," said Brittany Force.

At last year’s NHRA Kansas Nationals, Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE Dragster ran into a tough first round opponent, Khalid alBalooshi driving for Al-Anabi Racing. Both Top Fuel dragsters launched together but unfortunately for Brittany, alBalooshi’s dragster pulled away and got the win. For now, the always-optimistic 27 year-old Brittany Force and her team are looking forward to getting back on the track in Topeka. She’s focused on qualifying in the top half of the field and going rounds on race day.

Currently eighth in NHRA Mello Yello points chase, Brittany’s very pleased with how her team has stepped up its game with a strong and consistent qualifying performance at the last few races. "I’m very proud of my guys and we’re really starting to gel as a team. We just had some bad luck but we’re over it and ready for this weekend, " said Brittany Force. Brittany had her first final round Top Fuel appearance at the second race of the season and is hoping for another final round appearance at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals. With any luck, her first Top Fuel win will also mark NHRA’s 100th professional female victory.

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