JFR DOMINATES FRIDAY AT AUTO CLUB FINALS POMONA, CA -- What a difference a day makes. After a less than stellar qualifying performance on Thursday John Force Racing in the pre-race words of John Force "came out swinging" and they connected for a...
JFR DOMINATES FRIDAY AT AUTO CLUB FINALS
POMONA, CA -- What a difference a day makes. After a less than stellar qualifying performance on Thursday John Force Racing in the pre-race words of John Force "came out swinging" and they connected for a 1-2-3 provisional qualifying finish at the 46th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.
It was a banner day for the three Mustangs of John Force Racing as Robert Hight made his quickest lap of the event, 4.080 seconds at 312.35 mph (top speed of event) and briefly held the provisional No. 1 spot. From the top end an obviously excited Hight reintroduced himself to top end announcer Alan Reinhardt.
"It has been a while since I've been able to talk with you Alan. I have been taking the early turn off. My crew chief Jimmy Prock and my whole Auto Club team have been doing a great job. They have been working hard. We tested well on Monday in Las Vegas. That (run) is a victory for us because that is one in a row for a qualifying streak for us. That is big. We didn't qualify in Vegas and sometimes you take things for granted. That is a good shot here and maybe we can get more tomorrow. We want to keep John up there too," said the 2009 Funny Car champion.
Immediately after Hight ran his sister-in-law and teammate Ashley Force Hood blasted to the top of the field in her Castrol GTX Queen of Hearts Ford Mustang with a strong 4.076 second run at 309.98 mph. Both Hight and Force Hood were in the more favorable right lane on Friday and they both made the most of their opportunities. Force Hood was not sure if her run would stay on top as conditions continued to improve for the rest of the Funny Cars.
"I don't think we will have too long to celebrate this either. The track is really good out there and conditions are good. This was exciting to get down that lane. We kind of struggled yesterday. I am excited for tomorrow. We get two more shots. It is weird only running once a day. I wish we could make more runs. We'll get our two runs tomorrow and hopefully four runs on Sunday," said the 2009 Auto Club NHRA Finals finalist.
John Force was once again paired with championship nemesis Matt Hagan and Force made a strong run and it was good enough for one very valuable qualifying bonus point. At the finish line Force described his 4.085 second, 310.34 mph run as well as the upcoming battle for the 2010 Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
"I am fighting for my deal here. I am up against a great competitor in Hagan. I really like the kid (27 year-old Matt Hagan) and I like Tommy DeLago (Hagan's crew chief) and his group. At the end of the day we want to give the fans some great racing and this points deal could jump around back and forth and that is what is really cool about it," said the seven-time Auto Club Finals winner.
"Somebody is going to win and we don't know who that is yet. It is exciting that my old heap is running. We got over in that other lane and it was better. For Auto Club, Ford, Castrol, Mac Tools, BrandSource I love you guys and I want to thank the fans for sticking by this old man. I ain't done yet but this kid is great and this is going to be a showdown and I love a showdown."
Heading into the final day of qualifying Hagan has a 39 point lead (two rounds) over Force and Ashley Force Hood trails Jack Beckman by twelve points (one round). With two runs tomorrow the points could swing dramatically but Force Hood told the media that the team meetings led by Force have been having a positive impact on the attitude of all three teams.
"I think everyone comes to this event wanting to win it. It is the final event of the season and people remember that all off season. We really want to go out there every run and get everything we can. Whether it takes points away from this person or gives points to this person we want to have a good finish here especially on a night run here. You hate to give up that run. You hate to go 200 feet and not get any further. The fact that all three of our Mustangs made full passes is really exciting for us. Just those few little points mean a lot. I know Beckman is right away of me and I could move up to third," said Force Hood.
"Dad has been having meetings with the team on Fridays before the races. They are not your typical Rah-Rah meetings. I think they are more telling the team to ignore the pressure and just focus on doing your job. He is just asking every person on the team to focus on what they do and work together and give it our all, then Sunday night no matter what happens we can all hold our heads high. All you can do is give it your best shot. We are trying to get every little point we can and give ourselves the best chance we can."
Headed into the Countdown Force Hood had visions of what the NHRA champions banquet might look like but as the season draws to a close she has adjusted her plans.
"There was point in time this year where I thought how cool would it be to stand beside my dad on the stage at the champion's banquet stage at the end of the season. I was able to stand beside Robert last year because we finished one-two. I have never been able to stand beside my dad. Then the closer we got to the end of the season and I could see how the points were coming out I thought I want to be standing beside Matt Hagan with my dad as the champion. I don't want to be standing next to dad this year. I think it would be great to have it be my dad, Hagan and then me."