Indy ORP: John Force Racing Friday report

HIGHT LEADS DOMINANT JFR FORDS AT US NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The race for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship started today and after one qualifying session John Force Racing is off to a very strong start. After Friday ...

HIGHT LEADS DOMINANT JFR FORDS AT US NATIONALS

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The race for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship started today and after one qualifying session John Force Racing is off to a very strong start. After Friday night's evening session Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang sit in the provisional No. 1 spot with a track record 4.055 second run. Hight is followed by teammates John Force and Ashley Force Hood who covered the 1,000 foot racing surface of O'Reilly Raceway Park in 4.058 and 4.059 seconds, respectively. Force's speed of 312.86 mph was also good enough for a track record with Hight and Force Hood running the same speed of 310.98 mph.

Force Hood was the first JFR Mustang to take to the track and she immediately raced to the top of the Funny Car field in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang with her 4.058 second run. A number of Funny Cars followed the 2007 Rookie of the Year but none came close to her time. As the last two Funny Cars piloted by Hight and Force pulled to the line the near capacity crowd at O'Reilly Raceway Park rose in anticipation.

Hight unveiled his commemorative 2009 Full Throttle Championship Auto Club Ford Mustang as he rolled to the starting line. Force was beside him in his 25th anniversary Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. As the pair of Mustang crossed the finish line the scoreboards lit up and the crowd went wild.

In the pits afterwards 14-time Funny Car champion John Force was all smiles and all business.

"You know me and (long-time Castrol PR representative) Dave Densmore and the rest of my PR people, but mainly Densmore, have said 'Force you have to come back.' He feels like he rides with me. I know he loves it just like the whole teams does."

"When Ashley ran that 4.05 we knew it was out there. The other guys might have gotten a little greedy. You are talking about trying to dip into the threes and I was like 'No, no.' We did it the way we ran in testing. (Crew chief) Mike Neff did a great job with (crew chiefs) Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. (Auto Club crew chief) Jimmy Prock stepped up to the plate like I expected. (Castrol GTX Mustang crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas really showed us the way with their strong run. At the end of the day I am excited. You have Fords 1-2-3 and there are two other Fords out there that are going to run, you watch. I am excited at least we know we qualified at Indy," said the No. 1 Funny Car driver in the Countdown to 1.

In the pressroom Robert Hight talked with the media about the importance of not just starting the 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals strong but also the Countdown to 1.

"More than anything that (provisional No. 1) is the way to start the Countdown. You know that when you run a 4.0 like that and a number like that you are going to be qualified. You don't know if it will hold up for no. 1 or not. We have the points deal now where you get points every run you make in qualifying and as you saw I finished the regular season one point behind my boss John Force. You want every point you can earn every time you go down the track."

"You have to be perfect. This is the perfect way to start the season. This is a new season for us. You have to forget everything before this point. It doesn't matter how many wins you have at Force Racing. From here forward we have to be perfect. We have to do our jobs. There are too good of cars that are chasing us. It is exciting to come in here with a new paint job that celebrates my 2009 championship and take it to the top. What is really exciting for me is all the John Force Mustangs are one two three within thousandths of each other."

Even though Hight has had tremendous success at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals he was still on edge pulling up for the first run of the event. That nervousness came from his knowledge that his crew chief Jimmy Prock had been working overtime getting his Auto Club Ford Mustang ready.

"We had a good test session here a couple weeks ago and I was actually nervous tonight because of Jimmy Prock. We ran well in testing but not good enough for Jimmy. He is never happy. He has been back at the dyno and has been working night and day trying to figure out how to make this Mustang leave better. Tonight we had the best 60 foot we have had in a long time. Everything he did on the dyno paid off. It doesn't always happen because the dyno is a comparator. It is not real world like the race car. Jimmy Prock is a genius and we are lucky to have him. He made all the right calls."

Hight has had a great career at O'Reilly Raceway Park for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. He has raced to the past four final rounds and picked up wins in 2006 and 2008. For the sixth year driver he knows that Indy is the big race and there is the opportunity to let that overwhelm any driver.

"There is a lot of energy here (Indy). We are basically based out of here in Brownsburg. Last year it wasn't the case. We came in here with our fingers crossed hoping that we could make the countdown and we got to the final. It was our first final of the year. We have had a lot of luck here. This is my sixth year to race at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. In the previous five years I have been in the final four times and won twice. That never gets old. You feel the energy at this race. You have to try and turn that off because that excitement can kind of get you. You have to focus on what you have done and what you know how to do. You try and forget the rest. It is tough to do though."

The three John Force Racing Mustangs will try and hold onto the top three spots over the next two days of qualifying. With temperatures expected to barely break 70 degrees tomorrow there are quick times on the horizon for all the professional classes.

-source: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , Mike Neff