FORCE WIN DOUBLES UP VEGAS JACKPOT LAS VEGAS, NV -- If NHRA drag racing was the World Series of Poker John Force would have added another bracelet today for his dramatic performance when the chips were down. Force was on a collision course with...
FORCE WIN DOUBLES UP VEGAS JACKPOT
LAS VEGAS, NV -- If NHRA drag racing was the World Series of Poker John Force would have added another bracelet today for his dramatic performance when the chips were down. Force was on a collision course with Full Throttle points leader Matt Hagan round after round at the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals and in the final Force took out a tire smoking Hagan to get his 5th win of the 2010 season in ten final round appearances. Force closed the gap between himself and young cattle rancher from Virginia to a very manageable 37 points down from 64 points just 48 hours before.
"I said we have to get every point on the table. At the end of the day we got rid of four points during qualifying and that took us from four to three rounds. That was very important. If he would have won that round that would have been ugly. Then we would have needed a miracle. I don't want to have to go up against setting the national record in Pomona to have a shot. I'll still go for it," said the repeat 2010 winner at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"At the end of the day what amazes me most is so many people said this Mustang build by Ford was too heavy. We got with the Ford engineers and in the last few weeks we put her on a diet. We dropped ten pounds off of me within two or three weeks and we transferred the weight. Hagan is so big at 225 pounds I said to my guys that even if my car is heavy the kid outweighs me by 25 pounds. We realized that just body weight was transferring weigh to his rear tires."
"He could out 60-foot us but he didn't this weekend. Our car out ran him just about every run. That is what we needed to race with him. The Ford engineers delivered and that is what I am excited about. We learned a lot about this car that we didn't know. We'll apply that to all our cars."
For Force getting his 131st national event win in his 212th final round could not have come at a better time. All season Force had held onto the points lead and two weeks ago it slipped away due to a clutch pedal failure that ended his day in the first round. Hagan raced to the final and the points lead. Coming into Las Vegas Force knew he needed to make a move to keep his 15th Full Throttle championship hopes alive.
"We went into Reading with the lead and we committed the cardinal sin we had a part fall off the race car. I said I am not doing my job. I need to motivate these people. They cannot make a mistake. Hagan went rounds and he killed us there. I had the lead all year and one mistake, one bolt and a clutch pedal. I said that is not happening again and here we are."
Force motivated his team with a Friday morning team meeting before qualifying and team driver Ashley Force Hood produced a highlight reel movie of all the JFR wins and championships to get the team excited about the next two races and the opportunity that lay in front of them.
"The pressure is what I am all about. It keeps me wide awake. It is the way you come to town and the way you prepare your guys. Motivating them. Ashley made a movie for our team that showed us winning championships and races it got everybody up for the race this weekend. You have to come in with the right attitude. We have to do everything right," said Force.
The relationship between Force and Hagan is one of mutual respect. Force understands where the young driver is coming from and what is driving him. He relishes the battle and the fight.
"Hagan is a great racer and I really love the kid. We talked every round before we raced. He has big money behind him and he has a great team. We got some points in qualifying that put us back with three rounds. You can't be four short at Pomona. It was a long shot but did good and we got him in the finals."
Hagan was almost derailed when he ran up against Ashley Force Hood and her Queen of Hearts Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the semi-finals. Both cars took off down the track and Force Hood's Mustang made a hard move and shook the tires loose. The loss was disappointing for Force Hood but overall the weekend was a positive race for her. She picked up points on the No. 3 driver, Jack Beckman, and heads into Pomona just 13 points behind her former drag racing instructor.
"We want to finish as strong as we can. Everybody wants to win the last race of the year. It is our home track and we are going to do the best we can when we go out there in two weeks. This weekend was an amazing one for us especially following Reading. One weekend you can be zero and then you can be a hero. That is drag racing. We are just going to try and focus on Pomona," said Force Hood.
All three JFR Ford Mustangs will test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway tomorrow. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team are hoping to learn the most considering they narrowly missed qualifying. For the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion today was a day of cheerleading and support. That is not how Hight wants to spend the 46th annual Auto Club Finals in two weeks at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.