Indy ORP: John Force Racing Sunday notes

NEFF LEADS JFR TRIO INTO MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS TOMORROW -JOHN FORCE STUMBLES IN QUALIFYING- (INDIANAPOLIS) --- Hot conditions and tough circumstance worked against the full contingent of John Force Racing Ford Mustangs during the final day of...

NEFF LEADS JFR TRIO INTO MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS TOMORROW
-JOHN FORCE STUMBLES IN QUALIFYING-

(INDIANAPOLIS) --- Hot conditions and tough circumstance worked against the full contingent of John Force Racing Ford Mustangs during the final day of qualifying at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. For the second year in a row the winningest driver in NHRA history will be on the sidelines at the biggest race of the season as John Force missed qualifying for the race by less than four hundredths of a second. At the top end of the race track a dejected Force was apologetic to the fans but also reminded them that there is more than one Force to be reckoned with in the NHRA.

"John Force personally isn't racing but my name is out there with Ashley. That is why I have a multi-car team. Robert Hight is out there and so is Mike Neff so I will be racing as an owner just not a driver. I was given every opportunity by the NHRA and POWERade that they give you to come here to the greatest show on Earth," said a visibly upset driver. "I hurt inside and for my sponsors but we'll move on tomorrow. At the end of the day I feel that I have let the fans down. I think that is what hurts the most. John Force, he ain't dead yet."

Force's focus will shift to cheerleading for his three Next Generation drivers and making a run at his 15th Funny Car POWERade championship.

"We are in the Countdown. We didn't win the Shootout. I'll be going here to new race track out east of here...where in the hell is it...Charlotte. I'm just a little bit on the tires," said Force. "Thank you to the fans that love us. I know we have a few out there. Don't forget the Force name is going to be out there a long time because Brittany and Courtney are coming right behind Ashley."

Force's struggles were shared by daughter Ashley Force and son-in-law Robert Hight both of whom could not get a handle on a scorching hot track. Neither driver made representative runs during either qualifying sessions today. Hight was the most frustrated by his team's performance considering he was leading the field after the first session on Friday night.

"There is not a lot you can say about today. This was not a good day. We definitely didn't want to go out in the first round of the US Smokeless Showdown. Del (Worsham) is a tough competitor but we gave one away. The good news is (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) has a plan," said Hight. "We are in the Countdown and we still have a chance to win the US Nationals. I've been to the last two finals here so we are not going to roll over. We have run well here before but we struggled yesterday and today. That was obvious to everyone here. We are going to regroup and get after it tomorrow."

Neff's Old Spice team may have fired up the Force camp with a solid run to conclude Funny Car qualifying. The front-runner for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award made his best run of the day, 4.231 seconds, under the hottest conditions. Making that run gave the Fishers, Ind., resident a fair amount of confidence going into his first Mac Tools U.S. Nationals as a driver even though he knows that race day tomorrow will be a new experience.

"You can't help but feel the pressure of the Mac Tools US Nationals. I'm just excited to qualify at my first US Nationals. To start number four is just fantastic. I'm excited about that. It is definitely a high pressure race but you just try and approach it as business as usual," said Neff. "You just need to do the best you can. We always try and do our best and put the pressure to the back of your mind. You still have that added little anxiety because this is the big one. You really want to be sure you bring you're 'A' game."

* * * *

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 20th quickest run at 4.243 seconds, 288.21 mph

First Round Opponent (W-L): DNQ

Quotes: "John Force personally isn't racing but my name is out there with Ashley. That is why I have a multi-car team. Robert Hight is out there and so is Mike Neff so I will be racing as an owner just not a driver. I was given every opportunity by the NHRA and POWERade that they give you to come here to the greatest show on Earth. I hurt inside and for my sponsors but we'll move on tomorrow. At the end of the day I feel that I have let the fans down. I think that is what hurts the most."

ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Final Qualifying: 7th quickest run at 4.122 seconds, 302.41 mph First Round Opponent (W-L): Jack Beckman (0-0)

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Final Qualifying: 5th at 4.114 seconds, 297.48 mph First Round Opponent (W-L): Frank Hawley (0-0) Quotes: "I've been to the last two finals here so we are not going to roll over. We have run well here before but we struggled yesterday and today. That was obvious to everyone here. We are going to regroup and get after it tomorrow."

MIKE NEFF, 41, Old Spice Ford Mustang Final Qualifying: 4th at 4.114 seconds, 303.03 mph First Round Opponent (W-L): Jim Head (0-0) Quotes: "You can't help but feel the pressure of the Mac Tools US Nationals. I'm just excited to qualify at my first US Nationals. To start number four is just fantastic. I'm excited about that. It is definitely a high pressure race but you just try and approach it as business as usual. You just need to do the best you can."

******

JOHN FORCE OUT IN SEMIS OF US SMOKELESS SHOWDOWN

INDIANAPOLIS (August 31, 2008) --- John Force's bid to win his unprecedented seventh U.S. Smokeless Showdown went up in smoke in a semi-final match-up against POWERade points leader Tim Wilkerson. Force was in a no-win situation as he was trying to race his way into the top sixteen Funny Cars for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals while battling the quickest car in the Showdown.

The fan favorite was apologetic and disappointed at the top end after his final run of the event.

"John Force personally isn't racing but my name is out there with Ashley. That is why I have a multi-car team. Robert Hight is out there and so is Mike Neff so I will be racing as an owner just not a driver. I was given every opportunity by the NHRA and POWERade that they give you to come here to the greatest show on Earth, said Force. "I hurt inside and for my sponsors but we'll move on tomorrow. At the end of the day I feel that I have let the fans down. I think that is what hurts the most. John Force he ain't dead yet. We are in the Countdown. We didn't win the Shootout. Thank you to the fans that love us. I know we have a few out there. Don't forget the Force name is going to be out there a long time because Brittany and Courtney are coming right behind Ashley."

Force made it to the semi-finals by defeating No. 1 qualifier and daughter Ashley Force in her first appearance at the US Smokeless Showdown. Son-in-law Robert Hight dropped a tough race to Del Worsham as his Auto Club Ford Mustang lost traction after jumping out to an early lead.

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Del Worsham , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Frank Hawley , Mike Neff