Force Has Record Setting Friday At Atlanta
COMMERCE, GA --- John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang took one more step closer to the all-time record books but along the way they picked up an Atlanta Dragway track record. Force raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot posting a 4.072 second run at 310.98 mph. The ET is a track record and if it holds up Force will tie Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson as the all-time No. 1 qualifier in NHRA history with 138 No. 1s. Force won’t put himself in the same category with the Sugar Hill, Georgia racer.
“First of all the fans are just starting to like me in Atlanta so why would I want to make them mad by taking a record from Warren Johnson,” said Force, the seven time Southern Nationals winner. “They all like him and so do I. I had a media guy from the Athens paper say you know how old Warren is? That guy looks great for a 67 year old. He looks good and I look terrible. I have never raced Warren Johnson. You put me in a Pro Stocker and I couldn’t start it. I don’t want to compare myself to Warren it would be like comparing football to baseball. Any time you can put your name up with a guy a like Warren Johnson I am proud and humble. He is just cool. If we get it we’ll get it but if we don’t get it this weekend we might get it later. He’ll get some more sooner or later too.”
This would be Force’s fourth No. 1 qualifier in a row. Force picked up three qualifying bonus points and is thrilled with the performance of his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. He credits the crew chief tandem of Dean “Guido” Antonelli and Ron Douglas.
“I am just really excited. Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas have this Mustang flying. It has the BOSS 500 in it as well as all the stuff built by the Ford engineers and John Force Racing. I figured Tasca or Neff was going to get it (the No. 1 spot) back. They run the same stuff we run and they knew what was out there by watching us. I really thought Cruz Pedregon was going to get it because his stuff is really the hot rod to beat right now. (Auto Club crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) was trying to run 4.02 and it blew the tires off.”
Force knows that all his crew chiefs want to run as hard as possible and he knows they have varying styles. As the chief tuning callers on his three Mustangs Force has the pragmatic Neff, the Coil and Fedderly-like tandem of Antonelli and Douglas and the aggressive style of Jimmy Prock.
... They run the same stuff we run and they knew what was out there ...
“Jimmy Prock he wants to outrun the dragsters. That is how he thinks. It is just different approaches. Guido told me three cars back he was looking to run 4.08. He is pretty good at calling a number. They know what it will do if it works. It ran 4.07 which is great. Earlier we were being safe this morning. Ron and Guido are really savvy. It reminds me of Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. They don’t do it unless they think they can do it.”
Mike Neff was the top John Force Racing Mustang in the first session recording a time of 4.157 seconds. It was the third quickest time of the opening qualifying session and that time held up as the 8th quickest time of the day. In the second session Neff’s Castrol GTX Mustang launched hard and was on a great run but the front end lifted robbing Neff of the valuable ability to steer his 8,000 hp Funny Car.
“It was running good. The front end was just light and I couldn’t steer it early. It just got over and I got it back,” said the crew chief and driver. “Then it put a cylinder out. I couldn’t keep it going straight so I finally lifted. We weren’t getting greedy. It was going to run exactly what we wanted which would have been an oh like a 4.07 or 4.06 or 4.08. That is what we wanted to do and it was on pace to do that. I just couldn’t hang on to it. It didn’t have to front end too high just enough to have the front wheels of the track so you couldn’t steer early.”
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang made a solid run in the first session covering the 1000 ft racing surface in 4.172 seconds at 302.62 mph. As one of the last pairs to run in the second session his Prock tuned Mustang was set up as Force stated to “run with the dragsters” and he smoked the tires at about half track. His first session run was quick enough to carry over to Saturday as the 10th quickest of the race.