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Jun 26, 2014 - 05:52 PM
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2014 NHRA: John Force Racing Pre-Race Preview For Chicago
Posted by: newsla on Jun 26, 2014 - 05:50 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: John Force Racing Pre-Race Preview For Chicago


For two-time O’Reilly Auto Parts Rt 66 NHRA Nationals finalist Robert Hight he could not be rolling into Rt. 66 Raceway at a better time. The Auto Club Ford Mustang Hight races to speeds over 300 mph has been running low ETs the past events with a consistency that would make a top tier sportsman racer drool. Last weekend in Epping, New Hampshire Hight ran 3.988 seconds to grab the No. 1 qualifying spot and then his final three runs of the event were all in the 4.06 second range. Unfortunately for Hight low ETs have not equated to winner circle appearances.

 

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“Our Auto Club Mustang has been running as well as any other Funny Car out here. It is consistent and quick. We just haven’t gotten some breaks but we are going to start making our own luck this weekend. Mike Neff, my crew chief, won this race as a driver and has qualified well here too. I am looking forward to making the most of the two night sessions and then doing well on race day,” said Hight, the current Mello Yello Funny Car points leader.

Last year Hight qualified eighth and beat Chad Head in first round before losing to Ron Capps in the second round. His teammate John Force was runner-up at the event and it kept a streak of final round appearance alive for JFR at the Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals.
Since 2009 at least one JFR Funny Car has reached the final round at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals. That span of five races has also seen Hight’s current crew chief Mike Neff take the win from the No. 1 spot in 2011 as a driver and crew chief of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.

Two years ago it was rookie Courtney Force dropping a close race to Jeff Arend in the final and in 2010 Hight was going for his fourth win in row of the season when he came up just short to Matt Hagan in the final. Ashley Force Hood started the JFR final round streak in 2009 when she raced to the final only to be outrun by former JFR teammate Tony Pedregon.
Hight previous final round appearance was in his sophomore season (2006) when he was defeated by teammate John Force in the final round. JFR has six wins by the team at Chicago with Tony Pedregon winning in 2002 and 2003; John Force in 2000, 2004 and 2006; and Mike Neff in 2011. Hight would like to add his name to that list this season.

“We have four wins and six final round appearances coming into Chicago and we want to add to that list. I have so much confidence in my team I feel like we are contenders as soon as we roll the Funny Car out of the hauler. My crew guys work great together and I just feel like we are right around the corner from another streak,” said Hight.

As the current points leader Hight has led the points after eight of 11 races this year. He has led the points at least one time every season he has raced except 2013.

“I like to be the points leader and I want to keep that No. 1 beside my name all the way through Pomona and the Auto Club Finals. Our goal now is to continue to be consistent and win rounds. Every run down the track is data for us to use in the Countdown. Epping was great because we saw cool temperatures like we will see later in the season. Hopefully we will get some more cool temps in the night sessions in Joliet that we can run quick and get info for the Countdown,” said Hight.

BRITTANY FORCE RECHARGED FOR CHICAGO
Despite a tough first round loss at last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, Brittany Force is recharged and pumped up to attack Route 66 Raceway just outside Chicago for the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

With the Route 66 Nationals being the third stop of four-back-to-back races, the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year can’t wait to climb in the cockpit of her 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE Dragster and hit the drag strip. Her race car has been strong in qualifying and Brittany’s driven and focused on getting her first Top Fuel win for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing.

“With back-to-back races, I stay more focused as a driver and my routine stays sharp. I know it can be hard on my guys but we perform better when we’re constantly on the move and it’s that momentum that will help us keep qualifying in the top half of the field and go some rounds,” said Brittany Force.

With her strong qualifying performances at New England Dragway last week, Brittany Force picked up bonus points during three of the four qualifying runs. Unfortunately, she fell from eighth to ninth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel Points standings after last weekend’s first round loss, however the sophomore nitro driver’s performance behind the wheel is improving on every pass. The Castrol EDGE team, led by Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli, has also been giving Brittany a very fast, safe and consistent ride. There are still many races left before the Countdown to the Championship begins after the Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals, so Brittany’s very optimistic she’ll be in the hunt.

Earlier this season, Brittany Force made a trip to the finals at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, and had a strong finish a few weeks ago at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, in which she drove her Castrol EDGE Dragster to a top ten qualifying position and quarterfinal finish. She knows her team has the right attitude and energy to go rounds and perhaps even win this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

Her sophomore year in the Top Fuel class has seen a dramatic improvement from her rookie season in both her skills as a driver and the attitude of the team.

“Our Castrol EDGE team has been improving with each race. We are a much stronger team than last year. Todd Smith (crew chief) and Dean Antonelli (assistant crew chief) and the rest of my guys have been doing awesome this season. We’ve been the number one qualifier twice and I know we’ll get our first Top Fuel win real soon,” said Brittany Force.

During last year’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster faced fellow competitor Bob Vandergriff Jr. in round one. Brittany ran a 3.846 second pass at 322.11 mph, but fell short to his 3.843 pass. Going into this year’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals, the Castrol EDGE team will be armed with valuable data recorded at last year’s event and will use this in setting the car up for competition.

Currently ninth in the NHRA Mello Yello points chase, Brittany is still happy in the direction the Castrol EDGE team is heading. Even though she’s still disappointed in her first round loss at the NHRA New England Nationals, she’s not dwelling on it and knows her racecar is capable of running with any other Top Fuel Dragster on race day.

For now, the always-optimistic 27 year-old Brittany Force and her team are looking forward to getting their first win at Route 66 Raceway. Armed with the valuable knowledge they’ve gained these past twelve months, it could happen. Even with back-to-back races, Brittany still finds time to focus on her reaction times and review her routine as a driver. She knows what needs to get done this weekend - qualifying in the top half of the field, getting lane choice and going rounds on race day.

“I’m very proud of my guys and how we’ve been running this year. I know we have what it takes to go rounds and win races,” said Brittany 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.

COURTNEY FORCE LOOKING TO GET TO WINNER’S CIRCLE IN CHICAGO
JOLIET, IL (June 25, 2014) --- For the third straight year since Courtney Force transitioned into a professional driver in the Funny Car ranks she has been competing at Route 66 Raceway. She has had varied success at this track, qualifying No. 12 and going to her first final in 2012, then coming back in 2013 to qualify No. 7, but suffering a loss in the opening round. This year the Traxxas team led by Ron Douglas is coming for a win.

“My rookie year when I first raced in Chicago I went all the way to the final, but last year I got taken out early in the first round of eliminations. Looking back at our team’s stats gets me excited to know that we have got a pretty good handle on this track for tuning the car right. We always do pretty well in qualifying and as long as we get all four shots in at qualifying well, I think we can set ourselves up to go round on race day,” said Force.

After starting the season 3-6, the 26-year-old driver is 10-4 in the last five races with a win at Topeka that was the 100th for a female driver in one of the NHRA’s pro categories. The Traxxas team has achieved top speed at five of 11 races this season and owns the fastest speed ever at 325.34 mph (at Las Vegas in the spring).

“My main focus going into this race is consistency. I'm always working on improving my lights at every race, but also want to make sure we stay up in the top 10. We've worked hard these past few weekends to go rounds to move up in points to make sure we don't slowly slip down the ladder, and I'm so proud of the hard work my team has put in. I look forward to racing my Traxxas Ford Mustang at Route 66 Raceway this weekend and can't wait to give the fans a great show,” said Force.

Force came into Chicago before Bristol to promote the race and join in on a media event with NASCAR Nationwide driver Chase Elliott. The pair met with medi, participated in a Q&A, then squared off in a friendly game of beach volleyball which left Force and her team of media and fans celebrating the small victory.

“It was great coming out to Chicago a few weeks prior to the race to get the fans and the media excited about the upcoming race. I had such a great time taking part in this media day because it set itself aside from all the others. We started the day hitting all the media outlets and then headed to the beach. Castaways hosted the beach party where I joined Chase Elliott from NASCAR for a live Q&A in front of the fans and a friendly volleyball tournament where my team got the win.

“It was a great time with lots of media and definitely got me excited for the upcoming race at Route 66 Raceway. Also a big thanks to everyone at Route 66 for all their efforts behind promoting this great NHRA event and letting me be a part of it. I had a great time hanging out with the fans and the staff and had fun out in the sun. I can't wait to see all the fans out there at Route 66 this weekend and hope we can take our Traxxas Funny Car to our first winners circle in Chicago,” said Force.

JOHN FORCE READY FOR JOLIET BREAKOUT
JOLIET, IL (June 25, 2014) --- Coming off a semi-final finish at last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, John Force is reenergized and ready to come into Route 66 Raceway swinging for the fences. The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello World Champion had been in a slump recently, as a string of first round losses had left the team scratching their heads and the reigning Funny Car driver watching his second place points lead slowly erode. However, after going rounds last weekend and taking out some heavier hitters along the way with strong consistent performance, the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang and John Force are ready to go full throttle and break out even further from the competition in the NHRA Mello Yello points chase.

“I got my energy and the teams got their energy back. We’d been struggling, but we went rounds in New England and that was a big deal. Right now, we want to make it into the Countdown to the Championship and stay in the top ten in points. Not just me, but my drivers are focused on that so we need to go rounds in Joliet,” said John Force.

During last year’s Route 66 Nationals, John Force raced to his 219th final, but came up a few hundredths of a second short of picking up the win. In an epic match up with archrival Matt Hagan, Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran a 4.113 second pass, his slowest run of the weekend, as his 8000-horsepower BOSS 500 engine experienced a problem with the spark plugs firing inconsistently. John’s Mustang lost some power and Hagan was able to get past him with his winning 4.065 second run.

At last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, John Force jumped out of his Mustang after his first round victory over Matt Hagan, and it was like he won the event. The veteran drag racer has been in slumps before, but knows you have to start back at square one if you’re going to win another NHRA Mello Yello World Championship, and that means winning one round at a time. John’s energy level was back and as the ESPN cameras focused in on the winningest driver in NHRA history, fans saw John Force speaking from his heart and soul about his struggles and the highs and lows of a sport he’s passionate about and loves dearly.

“Things were starting to look desperate for a round win. I’m going to go nuts out here because I built my name on these race tracks. Years ago, I came here with junk and no help and I was expected to be a loser. Now, to come back here with great sponsors like Castrol and Ford, Auto Club, crews and equipment, we’ve been struggling to get past the first round. I don’t care who it is, I’m getting whipped by everybody but here I am screaming after I won the first round. It’s unbelievable: I’m excited, and I want to stay in this sport. It’s like I won Indy and yet we didn’t do nothing, just won the first round”, said John Force.

Maybe that’s why John Force has once again been nominated for an ESPN ESPY Award for Best Driver. It’s no accident that this legendary driver has accumulated 139 career wins and 16 NHRA World Championships, while setting numerous performance benchmarks along the way. Force earned the nomination on the success of his 2013 season where he won four races in nine final round appearances on the way to his 16th Mello Yello championship along with the number qualifier one Funny Car qualifier six times in 2013.

As the 2014 season comes up to the halfway mark, the reigning NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car champ knows he needs to start going rounds and winning races if he’s going to secure a 17th Mello Yello World Championship. With the consistent performance, courtesy of crew chief Jimmy Prock and the rest of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Team, they’ll be on track to once again rewrite the record books.

John Force is in third place with 713 Mello Yello Championship points and is only out of second by three points. He trails his teammate, son-in-law and current leader, Robert Hight, by 257 points. More important, John Force knows the gap between him and the rest of the field is tightening up, so he knows it’s imperative that he goes rounds at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals.

With his win at this year’s NHRA Winternationals, and final-round appearances at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida and the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte and a recent semi-final finish at the New England Nationals, we’re confident that John Force will be a contender for a win this weekend at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet.

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.

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