Memphis: John Force Racing Friday notes

ASHLEY FORCE ROCKS MEMPHIS WITH PROVISIONAL NO. 1 EFFORT (MEMPHIS) --- For the past three seasons Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang have ruled the qualifying sessions at Memphis Motorsports Park. Tonight Ashley Force and her Castrol...

ASHLEY FORCE ROCKS MEMPHIS WITH PROVISIONAL NO. 1 EFFORT

(MEMPHIS) --- For the past three seasons Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang have ruled the qualifying sessions at Memphis Motorsports Park. Tonight Ashley Force and her Castrol GTX team lasted to the top spot and had to wait to see if Hight would stay true to form as the last pair to run during the night session. Surprisingly Hight and Jack Beckman improved but not dramatically leaving the 2007 Rookie of the Year in the top spot going into Saturday's final day of qualifying.

"I was figuring someone behind we might run quicker. I figured they would see our Mustang and I guessed that (Robert Hight's crew chief) Jimmy Prock would step up since we share the info. I figured he would push Robert's car a little more especially since he was already in the show," said Force. "I don't know if they had trouble on that run or they just didn't want to push it tonight. I am lucky that we were able to hold it and it should hold for tomorrow. We'll see you never know. Tomorrow could be real cool and you could see more of those runs."

Force was surprised to hear her numbers at the top end since usually her team strives for consistency over aggressiveness.

"I was surprised when I got those numbers. It felt like I was driving it all over the place. I was thinking when I got out that they were going to tell me I ran in the low teens. I was pleasantly surprised when they told me I ran a 4.07. I was a little shocked that they pushed it that hard. Usually my team is a little more conservative so we stay consistent," added Force. "We don't try to go out and run the world records. We just try and get our base for Sunday. Apparently (co-crew chief Dean Antonelli) Guido was in the mood to push the Mustang a little more and thankfully the track held it. The weather and the conditions were right."

Prior to Ashley Force's number one run her father and team leader John Force had just run to the top of the field. The winningest driver in NHRA history has his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang running at the front of the pack again. Force credits a team effort to getting his season turned around.

"I always believed in the team concept even in school playing football. Everybody has to work as one. Our four Mustang teams work as one. Jimmy Prock and John Medlen got together with Austin Coil and they all straighten my race car out. It may not win a championship; it is a little far behind but right now it is real competitive. To see Ashley run low ET is totally awesome," said the proud team owner. "We are down here in Memphis in Sanyo land. That is important and representing all our sponsors like Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, BrandSource and Mac Tools to show them what we can do. We are pretty excited. I know Old Spice is excited because their hot rod ran well. They have been nothing but good to us and we want to let everyone know we are going to run hard until the very end of the season. We are all in that top twelve."

Rookie of the Year Mike Neff may have turned his season around as well with a strong effort on Friday night. The previous two races Neff had missed some optimal condition racing opportunities. He and crew chief John Medlen have had to play catch-up on Saturdays and last weekend in Dallas the lone rookie in the Countdown to 1 missed the show.

"I feel good about today. After last weekend this was huge for us. We had a good solid effort and we feel good about that. Our goal has to be to get into that top twelve after Friday night," said the former world champion crew chief. "We are excited to have all four John Force Racing Mustangs in the top twelve. Now we can get on the offensive for tomorrow's runs instead of being on the defensive. John Medlen can be more aggressive and that is a good thing."

Finally in the second session Robert Hight will have a hard time keeping his number one qualifying streak at Memphis Motorsports Park alive after he dropped a cylinder in the final session tonight. The ever optimistic Hight is looking at the opportunity he has before him in the number seven position. If the ladder stays as is he would have lane choice when he pulled up beside current POWERade points leader Tim Wilkerson on Sunday.

"We dropped a cylinder early. Real early. It would have been number one or number two. Right now I hope the ladder stays the way it is. We'd get Wilkerson first round. We control our own destiny," said Hight.

In the first session Robert Hight and the AAA Ford Mustang raced to the top of the pack with a strong 4.150 second pass. He was followed closely by teammates John and Ashley Force who were sitting in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots respectively after the first twenty fuel coupes drove down the Memphis Motorsports Park racing surface. Rookie of the Year front-runner Mike Neff mixed up a few cylinders at the top end slowing his Old Spice Ford Mustang to a 4.261 second run.

***

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 3rd at 4.105 seconds, 300.26 mph

Quotes: "It is always easy to be excited and be in the game when your car is running good. It is when it struggles that you have to keep your head in the game and you have to hold your people together. That is what I have managed to do with teamwork.

ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 1st at 4.079 seconds, 298.81 mph

Quotes: "I was a little shocked that they pushed it that hard. Usually my team is a little more conservative so we stay consistent. We don't try to go out and run the world records. We just try and get our base for Sunday. Apparently Guido was in the mood to push the Mustang a little more and thankfully the track held it."

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 7th at 4.122 seconds, 285.95

Quotes: "We dropped a cylinder early. Real early. It would have been number one or number two. Right now I hope the ladder stays the way it is. We'd get Wilkerson first round. We control our own destiny."

MIKE NEFF, 42, Old Spice Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 4th at 4.113 seconds, 297.42 mph

Quotes: "After last weekend this was huge for us. We had a good solid effort and we feel good about that. Our goal has to be to get into that top twelve after Friday night. We are excited to have all four John Force Racing Mustangs in the top twelve. Now we can get on the offensive for tomorrow's runs instead of being on the defensive."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , John Medlen , Mike Neff