HIGHT LEADS 1-2-3 JFR QUALIFYING EFFORT AT GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE --- Rain washed out half of the professional qualifying sessions on Friday at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals but the precipitation did not dampen the...
HIGHT LEADS 1-2-3 JFR QUALIFYING EFFORT AT GATORNATIONALS
GAINESVILLE --- Rain washed out half of the professional qualifying sessions on Friday at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals but the precipitation did not dampen the dominance of John Force Racing. JFR held down the top three spots led by 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight (4.060), followed by nearly identical runs by John Force (4.093) and Ashley Force Hood (4.094). The JFR Mustangs are the only Funny Cars to run in the 4.0s in the first session.
"(Crew chief) Jimmy Prock has a great handle on this Mustang and it gives me confidence knowing just seeing it in his eyes. This is definitely a race you want to win. At the end of your career you want to look back and be able to say you won the Gatornationals. This is where all the Who's Who of drag racing come because of the Hall of Fame and because of the history here at Gainesville Raceway," said Hight.
Hight's Jimmy Prock tuned Auto Club Ford Mustang started their 2009 performance swoon at the Gatornationals last year but Hight feels better after day one. The 33-time No. 1 qualifier is not overconfident by any stretch of the imagination. Today they set both ends of the track performance records with their 4.060 second, 310.13 mph but Hight knows that guarantees him nothing.
"This is the start of our big problems last year. We learned a lot and that is why I am not going to get overly confident and too excited about what we are doing now. This sport is very humbling and you can change in a hurry. We just have to work hard and keep doing what we are doing. We are not changing a whole lot and refining what we have. It is awesome. That No. 1 is still a target on the side of my car. There are a lot of other drivers that want that No. 1 for next year. We are going to have to do a good job to hold onto that No. 1," said Hight.
"Jimmy Prock has a great handle on this race car. We were hurting it a little bit in Phoenix so he decided to put a brand new fuel pump on it. He was even second guessing himself a little bit. He stuck with it and you can see it ran 310 mph. It was a flawless run. If we get more good conditions tomorrow maybe we can lower that time tomorrow. There are a lot of other guys out there that can run that quick. A 4.06 is a great start and it will definitely stay in the top four or five. It is pretty cool that John Force Racing is 1-2-3 right now."
Right behind Hight is 14-time champion and 2010 Funny Car points leader John Force. Force bested daughter Ashley Force Hood by .001 running 4.093 versus Force Hood's 4.094 second pass. Getting three cars at the top of the field fired up Force.
"It is good to start 1-2-3. We smoked the tires in Phoenix in the finals against Beckman. To come out here and to come out of the box with a 4.09 is big. When you run good you can run at the back of the pack and that really helps. I wasn't at the back last year and I had to run first a lot," said Force. "We never knew what was out there. (Co-crew chief) Mike Neff is really gelling with (co-crew chiefs) Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. To put Ford Mustangs 1-2-3; let me tell you something that excited me. Seeing Ashley go out there and fly down that race track. It is no guarantee you are going to win the race but it guarantees your start is pretty good. I am just proud to be here."
Earlier in the day Force made a quick trip to the sportsman pit area to visit with NASCAR driver Kurt Busch who is campaigning an eBay purchased MOPAR in the Super Gas category. Rain washed out Busch's qualifying sessions but he was eager to get some tips from the winningest driver in NHRA history. Force was eager to spend some time with one of his NASCAR "big brothers."
"I have to admit on the burnout I was a little hopped up. He (Busch) really is a cool guy. I know I am a Ford guy with Castrol and he drives for MOPAR. He is just a good ole boy and I went down to his trailer and bus today and talked with him. His love for drag racing is genuine. He is really a good guy and it is fun to mingle with the NASCAR racers," said Force.
"I have always said they (NASCAR) are our big brothers but Greg Biffle is another guy that is a Ford guy he is the same type of person. I don't know a lot of guys over in NASCAR and I have met a few over the years. I know Biffle and Busch can drive on the race track but they are real people too. I sat with Biffle at Homestead with all the guys from Ford. He was the real deal."