Entering Saturday’s final day of qualifying Courtney Force was not in the top twelve and she had to race into the field. Force and her Traxxas Ford Mustang showed promising numbers right from the first hit with the second-quickest 60-ft time of the session.
Despite the Traxxas team’s effort to jump up into the top half of the field, Force posted a 4.134 ET at over 282 mph and moved into the No. 11 spot.
“We had a problem yesterday in qualifying with the chutes shaking out, but today went really well. We had a really good run going in the first session, but I had to get out of it early because it was pulling me over to the wall. It’s a tricky race track .These lanes want to pull you over to the right and if you get out of that groove it sends you on over to the wall. We still made a decent run with the track conditions,” said Force.
In the second qualifying shot today, Force made her quickest pass of the weekend and moved into the top half of the field. She ran a 4.109 ET at over 309 mph and by the end of the day she was nestled in the no. 6 spot for Sunday’s eliminations rounds.
“I was happy to go down there and make a good pass on that last run with that 4.10 which put us in the top half of the field and set us up with lane choice going into tomorrow,” said Force.
The only negative with this match-up is she will take on her father, John Force and his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Mustang, in the opening round.
“Unfortunately, I have to run a teammate the first race into the Countdown which is a little upsetting, but you know what, it doesn’t matter. We’re our own team. Traxxas wants to win a championship so we’re going to go after Dad tomorrow!” said Force.
This will be the third time the Forces have raced each other this season with the youngest Force holding a 2-0 record against the winningest driver in NHRA history. For John Force the frustration level was high on Saturday after qualifying but he was focused on making the best of a tough situation.
“Bottom line is drag racing is tough. In Indy the luck fell our way and we got all our Mustangs in the show and in the Countdown. Courtney was no. 1 and (Mike) Neff won the biggest race of the year. This weekend the luck didn’t fall our way,” said Force, currently no. 8 in the point standings. “Our Funny Cars are running but we are all on the same side of the ladder. Hopefully that means we’ll get a car to the final. It is hard when you work all year to get into the Countdown and then you have to race a teammate in the first round.”
“I do want to thank my friend Bruton Smith for giving us such a great place to race. He named a grandstand after me and I am going to go out tomorrow and make him proud.”
Mike Neff did not improve on his no. 3 qualifying position as the track continued to be tricky for the driver and crew chief of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Neff smoked the tires at the top end in the first session. It was a common sight amongst the Funny Cars making passes in the left lane.
In the second session Neff made it just past half-track before he shook is Goodyears loose and crossed the finish line with a pedestrian time of 5.222 seconds. Neff looks to have found the “edge” on the race track and he will have the all-important lane choice over fellow Countdown competitor Johnny Gray.
“Well we were thankful to get in four qualifying sessions and that last run last night really helped us get in a good spot. We came out here today and tried to do some different things with the car, but that fourth hit we had just didn’t work out,” said Neff.
“We got a lot of valuable information this weekend and also took some good information from our win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals last weekend. We made it into the no. 3 spot which was really good. Our Castrol GTX Ford Mustang had top speed of qualifying with 313.44 mph. We’re up against Johnny Gray tomorrow so we’ll just have to hope that track and weather conditions are good tomorrow and see what happens.”
Finally Robert Hight and the Auto Club team will come out tomorrow and have a tough draw against Jeff Arend in the DHL Toyota. Arend’s Funny Car was making consistent passes all weekend but the Auto Club Ford Mustang stepped up on Saturday to grab the no. 6 qualifying spot.
“You want to start the Countdown off by going rounds here in Charlotte. This track has been tricky and I am glad this Auto Club Mustang has lane choice tomorrow morning. Jeff Arend will be a tough draw but I have a lot of confidence in my guys and in my crew chief Jimmy Prock. We looked back at the stats over the past seasons and we have been a really strong car and I want to continue to show how strong this team is by going rounds tomorrow,” said Hight.
Source: John Force Racing