FORCE HOOD HOLDS ONTO TOP SPOT AS BRISTOL HEATS UP BRISTOL, TN -- Temperatures soared today and with no night session teams battled a tricky track at Bristol Dragway. No one came close to challenging last night's Ashley Force Hood's 4.151 ...
FORCE HOOD HOLDS ONTO TOP SPOT AS BRISTOL HEATS UP
BRISTOL, TN -- Temperatures soared today and with no night session teams battled a tricky track at Bristol Dragway. No one came close to challenging last night's Ashley Force Hood's 4.151 second pass and for the second year in a row Force Hood will enter the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as the No. 1 qualifier. The tricky conditions baffled just about every Funny Car team all day and Force Hood knows that the first round tomorrow could be a toss-up if conditions are as hot as today.
"There are some really strong cars out there and we did not run that spectacular and we still wound up No. 1. It shows that it is challenging. We were able to figure it out and get down the track. There were a lot of other teams that were out there struggling this weekend. They will probably get it figured out and run better tomorrow. I think it is going to be exciting for the fans because it is going to be very unpredictable," said the 3-time NHRA national event winner.
"This will not be a race that will go along with the paper ladder. People that can recover from tire smoke and get their car down or just people that can get down A to B have the best shot at winning rounds tomorrow. Obviously we will try and get A to B but if that doesn't happen I'll do my best to pedal my Castrol GTX Mustang and get it recovered. This is a very tricky track," said the 11-time No. 1 qualifier.
With conditions throwing crew chiefs curve balls all day Force Hood knows that her tandem of tuners, Ron Douglas and Dean "Guido" Antonelli, will use today's info to make the best decision for the opening session. The ability to bounce ideas of the other two Funny Car teams in the JFR camp will also help.
"Of course you are watching other teams and especially our own teams. We are able to learn from them and look at their runs when we get back to the track. I don't know if running at the back of the pack helped us too much as far as conditions but it felt like it was getting warmer and warmer. You do gain a little bit of knowledge watching other people run. I am sure Guido and Ron will be back in the pit with Austin (Coil), Bernie (Fedderly), (Mike) Neff and Jimmy (Prock) going over everything. We'll try and take everything we have learned and try to go out with three strong Mustangs tomorrow morning."
Force Hood's No. 1 qualifying effort already paid immediate dividends for one lucky fan at Bristol Dragway. Matthew Austin of Swannanoa, North Carolina won a Whirlpool washer & dryer compliments of JFR sponsor BrandSource. This is the 10th pair of Whirlpool washers & dryers BrandSource has given away in 2010 as part of the "Win with Force" contest thanks to the strong qualifying effort of the three John Force Racing Mustangs. If Force Hood, John Force or Robert Hight race to the winner's circle tomorrow another lucky fan will win a 52" Mitsubishi TV for the 7th time in 2010.
The qualifying situation while not ideal is dramatically better for 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight at Bristol Dragway, a year ago after the final qualifying session Hight was on the outside of the top sixteen looking in and idle on race day. As the No. 13 qualifier Hight will race veteran Del Worsham in the first round. Neither driver set the world on fire in qualifying so it could be anyone's race in the first round.
"Whoever can navigate this race track should get the win. It is pretty tricky out there. We are trying a few things and we are a little off. The truth is I am better off here now than I was last year. I am in the show," said Hight.
"I have raced Del here before and I have gotten a win over him in the first round (in 2008). It really doesn't matter who we race we just have to do better and get down the track. We just have to get it fixed. We are getting closer. That last run it went further down the track. It could be won or lost on the starting line. I'll get a good night's sleep and be ready."
Hight will start from the No. 13th position his worst qualifying performance since the Auto Club Ford did not qualify for the Brainerd national event last year.
Team owner and 14-time champion John Force was not overly worried in the performance of his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. He knows that his crew chiefs have the brain trust to work through any problem. For the past two years his team has battled through a variety of ups and downs to two days of rocky qualifying will not shake his confidence.
"My job as a driver is to always let my crew chiefs know that I am confident in what they do. We are battling through some stuff but they will bring me out of it. We were awesome at the beginning of the year and we'll get back to that. I think you do get stronger when you struggle so I am not worried," said the 129-time winner.
Force will race Paul Lee tomorrow in the first round. Lee will become the 126th different driver Force has ever raced. Force Hood will race Jeff Diehl who on Saturday suffered a significant explosion in the first qualifying session of the day and did not make an attempt in the final qualifying session.