Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Ford Mustang team hold the provisional No. 3 qualifier fallowed by teammates Courtney Force and John Force.
HOUSTON, TX (April 26, 2013) – The three John Force Racing Ford Mustangs attacked the Royal Purple Raceway Park track today with a vengeance. Each Funny Car scored qualifying bonus points on Friday and all three will go into Saturday’s final day of qualifying in the top half of the field at the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals. Led by a surging Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Ford Mustang team the provisional No. 3 qualifier with a strong 4.117 second run in the second session. Right behind Hight are Courtney Force and the Traxxas Ford Mustang (No. 5, 4.123 seconds) and John Force (No. 7, 4.151 seconds) behind the wheel of the Castrol GTX Mustang.
Hight smoked the tires in the first session and was first up in the second session. The AAA Texas Ford Mustang launched hard and stayed hooked up for the entire 1000 ft. At the top end Hight posted the quickest run of the day, 4.117 seconds and that run held up most of the session only being bested by Tim Wilkerson and provisional No. 1 Cruz Pedregon.
“The first run was slow and it shook. We changed clutch discs coming in here and our program was weak in the first session. We adjusted for it and we were conservative because you have to make sure you go on the night runs,” said Hight. “You don’t want to go into Saturday not qualified. I am surprised that a 4.11 stayed No. 3. It was plenty soft and we could have run quicker but we weren’t in a position to. Good job to my team and we’ll get a race day set up tomorrow. That will be important tomorrow. We’ll need to go down the track both runs and get two runs that will give us info for Sunday. You don’t want to be behind the eight-ball.”
Hight was optimistic that the conditions would not give teams the chance to challenge the top spots. The forecast calls for warmer conditions and the qualifying times will be earlier in the day.
“I don’t think people will run better than that (4.11 seconds) tomorrow in the heat. Tomorrow a top run could be 4.13 seconds in the heat. Hopefully we can do that,” said Hight.
Team leader John Force was looking at the big picture at the end of the day on Friday. He was pleased his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was third quickest of the first session and he wants to stay in the top half going into Sunday for the all-important lane choice in eliminations.
“Today was nothing really exciting. It was good enough for me and my sponsors like Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools, AAA Texas, Traxxas and BrandSource to get up in the top half. We are going to try and run better tomorrow but it is good to be in the top half to hold onto lane choice. The dragster banged the blower. Courtney is right up there at the top with Robert,” said Force.
In the final session on Friday night the fans were treated to a Courtney Force/John Force side by side run and they ate up the chance to see two of the biggest names on the tour run together. Force was focusing on his performance and looking to give his team and edge and did not consider that he was running beside his youngest daughter.
“I don’t even think about her being over there. I don’t need to. I just run my own lane. I saw her when I backed up and I tried to get staged as quickly as I could. Usually she lets me go in first and I went to roll in and she went ahead and staged,” said Force.
Courtney Force made two consistent passes down the race track today to qualify in the No. 5 spot at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.
“It was nice getting back here to Baytown for our second of three back-to-back races and it was nice to be back to two-lane racing,” said Force. “My guys had our Traxxas Ford Mustang tuned up and we made two consistent passes straight down the race track.”
Force set high goals for herself and her team coming into this event having slipped out of the points lead last weekend in Concord, N.C.
In the first qualifying session today, Force ran a 4.153 ET at over 294 mph which took her to the No. 1 spot and granted her three vital bonus points.
The 24-year-old followed up that pass with a 4.123 second run at over 304 mph beside her father, John Force, and left her solidly in the top half of the field occupying the No. 5 position going into Saturday’s qualifying sessions.
“I’m proud of my guys. They made some changes today to the race car and it’s looking good for our team. I’m excited about tomorrow because we have two really good runs to work off of. I’m hoping we can go some round this weekend and work our way back up in the points, so we’ll just have to see how tomorrow goes and do the best we can,” said Force.
The Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster will head into Saturday on the outside looking in. After a strong showing in Charlotte the Texas heat did not do the JFR top fuel team any favors. Brittany Force had her hands full in both sessions but is excited to get back on track on Saturday.
“We got two runs and I am a little disappointed with our runs today. On that last run I ended up getting off it and then stepping back on it trying to pedal it. I don’t have much experience pedaling it,” said Force, one of the favorites to win the Automobile Club Road to the Future Award. “We’ll get two shots tomorrow. I was hoping to move up into the top half of the field in that last session. I feel positive about our chances for tomorrow and getting into the show for Sunday.”
John Force Racing