Pomona: John Force Racing Thursday notes

NEFF LEADS JOHN FORCE RACING MUSTANGS IN DAY ONE QUALIFYING Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Neff powered his Old Spice Ford Mustang down the fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona today and solidly positioned the John Medlen tuned Mustang in the...

NEFF LEADS JOHN FORCE RACING MUSTANGS IN DAY ONE QUALIFYING

Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Neff powered his Old Spice Ford Mustang down the fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona today and solidly positioned the John Medlen tuned Mustang in the No. 4 spot. Neff utilized much of the experience he gathered during four days of testing in Phoenix despite never making a full quarter mile pass.

"We were really happy with that run. It felt good. We didn't make a full pass in testing and so I was just a little nervous for the first race of the season. It was smooth and (John) Medlen did a great job of setting the car up with a solid conservative tune-up," said the former POWERade Champion Crew Chief turned driver. "We just wanted to get down the track and continue learning. We weren't as comfortable as we would have liked. To make it down the track on the very first run is huge and at the time we didn't know how that time would hold up but as it turned out that run was good and we are thrilled with that."

Teammate and former 2005 Rookie of the Year Robert Hight will continue to try and get a handle on his newly designed Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang. Under the new qualifying structure Hight is not slotted based on his qualifying run today since it was not one of the twelve quickest runs of the day. Hight still has three more opportunities to qualify for Sunday's eliminations.

"The qualifying schedule for this race is good if you get in the first session but it isn't if you are in the position we are in," said the two-time POWERade Funny Car Championship runner-up Hight."We have all night to think about it and we have one more run tomorrow and then Saturday. We have been here before and we'll be fine. You don't get in a groove with one run a day."

Both Hight and Neff are piloting Ford Mustang Funny Cars that have been structurally overhauled for the first time in 25 years. The new heavier chassis are also equipped, as are all Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters, with Ford Blue Boxes to further enhance the new safety initiatives that the NHRA, John Force Racing and Ford Motor Company are implementing.

"There is nothing wrong with this Ford Mustang. It drives nice and you have a lot of room. They also react to steering input really well. We are going off of all the information we got at testing in Phoenix which was a lot different than here. We have to regroup and we are going to run the car closer to the set-up from last year. It was really just too fast today," said Hight.

Also today Courtney Force, 14-time Funny Car Champion John Force's youngest daughter, made her first competitive quarter mile pass in the Jerry Darien tuned A Fuel Dragster. She is currently qualified in the No. 11 position.

"I'm excited about tomorrow and I know I'll feel a lot better since I got my first run out of the way especially since I was racing someone else for the first time," said Ms. Force, the former high school cheerleader and second year student at Santiago Canyon College. "I think tomorrow I'll be better off since I'll feel more comfortable in the car. I shouldn't be as nervous as I was today,"

THE DRIVERS

ROBERT HIGHT, 38, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang

Thursday Qualifying: Made the 19th quickest qualifying run of the day, 9.526 seconds, 84.80 mph

Quotable: "There is nothing wrong with this Ford Mustang. It drives nice. They also react to steering input really well. On that run I was going to pedal it but when I hit the throttle fuel blew all over the windshield so I decided against that since I didn't know what was going on with the car. It wasn't going to do me any good to pedal it."

MIKE NEFF, 40, Old Spice Ford Mustang

Thursday Qualifying: 4th at 4.850 seconds, 322.27

Quotable: "We were really happy with that run. It felt good. It was a good run, it was smooth and Medlen did a great job of setting the car up with a solid conservative tune-up. We just wanted to get down the track and continue learning. To make it down the track on the very first run is huge."

COURTNEY FORCE., 19, John Force Racing A Fuel Dragster

Qualifying position and performance: 11th at 5.566 seconds, 253.95

Quotable: "I'm excited about tomorrow and I know I'll feel a lot better since I got my first run out of the way. Today I was racing someone else for the first time. I think tomorrow I'll be better off since I'll feel more comfortable in the car. I shouldn't be as nervous as I was today."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Robert Hight , John Medlen , Mike Neff , Courtney Force