Norwalk: John Force Racing final report

CASTROL FORDS SUFFER SECOND ROUND SETBACKS Castrol GTX Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Ashley Force dropped a close second round match to Funny Car legend Kenny Bernstein during the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment Nationals Sunday at Summit ...

CASTROL FORDS SUFFER SECOND ROUND SETBACKS

Castrol GTX Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Ashley Force dropped a  close second
round match to Funny Car legend Kenny Bernstein during the  inaugural Summit
Racing Equipment Nationals Sunday at Summit Motorsports  Park.

Although she again was stopped short of her goal of becoming the first woman to win an NHRA Funny Car event, the 24-year-old was philosophical about the early exit.

"You can agonize about that and compare your run to others (in  the same
round)," she said, "but that's drag racing.  Sometimes you need a  little bit of
luck.  Our car is running pretty well (and) we aren't having  weird or
dramatic things happen to our Ford Mustang like dad and Robert  (Hight)."

Ashley's solid 4.901 second quarter mile was remarkable in the right hand lane, but it wasn't enough to overpower Bernstein's 4.815 pass, the quickest of eliminations.

"We were in the slower lane and we knew a lot of people had  smoked the tires
over there," she said.  "I was glad it got down the  track.  I really
thought it could go up in smoke.  We knew Kenny would  get down in the other lane.
Our car just dropped some cylinders at the top  end."

Meanwhile, Robert Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Mustang, qualified No. 1 for the fourth time this season and for the 19th time in his brief career before succumbing in round two to a recurring ignition problem.

"I hit the throttle and it didn't go anywhere," said the 2005  NHRA Rookie
of the Year.  "Then it decided to take off and it slipped the  tires. It was
slow all the way down the track. I could see him (Mike Ashley) out  of the
corner of my eye and then my Mustang started eating itself up, so I shut  off. We
can do better.  I have no idea what happened."

The nightmare season continued for 14-time champion John Force, who lost in the first round to Jack Beckman when he had to backpedal his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang in an attempt to regain traction. Force was attempting to be only the second lower-seeded car to move into the second round of eliminations. He qualified his Mustang in the 12th position.

The early exit pushed drag racing's biggest winner back to 15th place in the Funny Car driver standings with only six races remaining before the NHRA's new Countdown to the Championship.

* * * *

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 58, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 12th at 4.832, 299.00 mph

Race results: Lost to Jack Beckman.

Notable: Fell back to 15th place in points but remained just 120 points out of the eighth and final transfer position for the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.

Quotable: "We're gonna fix it, what else can I say? My guys are putting our new Castrol Ford together because the chassis is the only thing we haven't already changed."

ASHLEY FORCE, 24, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.734, 320.13 mph

Race results: Beat Gary Densham. Lost to Kenny Bernstein.Notable: No 2 qualifying position is a career best and highest position ever for a female in the Funny Car category.

Quotable: "We  are getting down the track and that is the main way to win.
You can win on luck  some but if you can get down the track that is the best way
to go rounds. If we  can keep doing that especially in these hot summer
months we'll be in good  shape. My team has been doing a great job."

ROBERT HIGHT, 37, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.713, 313.73 mph

Race results: Beat Del Worsham. Lost to Mike Ashley.

Notable: Set track ET record with Friday night qualifying pass of 4.713

Quotable: "When it  doesn't go anywhere when you hit the throttle its weird.
It feels like it is  going to slip loose and then you are ready for anything."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Densham , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Mike Ashley , Robert Hight