FORCE AND HIGHT TOP FOUR ON FRIDAY AT LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS --- The desert heat played tricks with John Force Racing on Friday at the 12th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals. At the conclusion of racing today John Force sat in the provisional No. 2 and Robert Hight held down the No. 4 spot. Full Throttle points leader Mike Neff will not carry a time over to Saturday since we was on the outside of the top twelve Funny Cars.
Force was the class of the field making the quickest run of the first session and the second quickest run of the late afternoon session. He picked up five qualifying bonus points and his time of 4.169 seconds at 304.25 is bested by only Cruz Pedregon’s 4.145 second pass.
“It always makes me feel good to get two good runs on the first day,” said the defending Summitracing.com champion. “We have a heat wave right now. The track is like 130 degrees and (co-crew chiefs) Ron Douglas and Guido (Dean Antonelli) got it done and so did Jimmy Prock with Robert’s Auto Club Mustang. We are good and we’ll get Neff in there tomorrow. I want to win this race and get focused on Courtney on Monday in the BrandSource Mustang. Neff’s car is ready to go it just needs a couple of laps.”
Track temperatures soared to over 130 degrees most of the day and crew chiefs battled finding the sweet spot on their tune ups. For the drivers battling the heat was also an issue. Force was trying to get used to a dramatic temperature swing himself.
“I was in Charlotte on Tuesday for a media tour and it was cold,” said Force. “I was wearing my 2010 Full Throttle champion’s jacket all day. You come here and it is a heat wave. I am pumping water down all day. I am just trying to keep my body right. I’ll lose ten pounds on a weekend like this and then I’ll gain it all back on Monday.”
Hight was thrilled with his second run, 4.197 seconds at 304.87 mph, but also frustrated that his Auto Club Mustang didn’t make that run in the first session.
“We had to back it off for that second run so that it would go. If we would have made that run this morning on the first run then we could have been in position to try and run 4.14 like Cruz (Pedregon), said the 2009 Full Throttle NHRA Funny Car champion.
“On the flip side at least we got it today. We don’t want to go into Saturday in the position of not being in. In the fall we didn’t qualify here and we were still thinking about that a little bit. What we have right now will probably stick for top half and give us lane choice in the first round on Sunday. Sunday will be a whole different ballgame since it is going to be cooler. Tomorrow what we really need to do with this team is go out there and get qualifying bonus points in both sessions. We need to be in the top three tomorrow and then we’ll be set for race day.”
Hight and his team saw the struggles teammate Mike Neff experienced to open up the second session and they made the appropriate adjustments.
“We saw Neff smoke the tires in front of us. We were not in any position to press on that run. Compared to the fall race last year we know what we need to do to back it off to make it go. We did that. Now we need to figure out how to make this Mustang run for race day. We want to be near the top at the end of the day tomorrow.”
Mike Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang team will have two shots to qualify for the event. Sessions will be contested at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.