POINTS LEAD ON LINE FOR FORCE GOING INTO READING RACE DAY READING, PA -- In a dramatic turn of events young Matt Hagan made the most of the tremendous conditions at Maple Grove Raceway and has all but drawn even with 14-time Funny Car champion...
POINTS LEAD ON LINE FOR FORCE GOING INTO READING RACE DAY
READING, PA -- In a dramatic turn of events young Matt Hagan made the most of the tremendous conditions at Maple Grove Raceway and has all but drawn even with 14-time Funny Car champion and Full Throttle points leader John Force. In the final qualifying session on Saturday Hagan and Force were paired together as the last two Funny Cars Hagan out ran Force and in the process backed up his Friday night run of 4.011 as the NHRA national record. If the record stands through Sunday Hagan could earn an extra 20 Full Throttle points.
In order for Hagan to move around Force on Sunday he would need to go the same amount of rounds as Force. If Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang were to beat Hagan in the final or go at least one round further on race day he would maintain his points lead. A John Force Racing driver has had the Full Throttle points for over a full calendar year.
"At the other end they were saying he (Hagan) got the record. He has the record but he doesn't have the points yet. The record isn't over until the end of this race. I am sure that record probably will hold. If he stumbles during the race then he still can't pass me as long as I don't stumble," said the six-time Toyo Tires National event winner. "It is going to be tricky but we are going to hit them with all we've got tomorrow. Ashley (Force Hood) and myself for Castrol and Robert (Hight) for Auto Club as well as all our other sponsors will be gunning for all the other drivers."
Force and Hagan were paired up every qualifying session during the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals and it was a classic John Force Racing versus Don Schumacher Racing scenario. Hagan edged out Force for the top spot but Force is No. 2 and 2009 Funny Car champion and JFR driver Robert Hight is No. 3. Team Schumacher driver Jack Beckman is No. 4. These two teams have battles all season and between them they have won fourteen of twenty races.
"(Don) Schumacher is invested. He has got good talent and he's got the money. So do we. Bring on the fight," added 14-time Funny Car champ Force.
In addition to Hagan Force also has to hold off Jack Beckman and teammate Ashley Force Hood who are three and four rounds of racing behind the 130-time NHRA national event winner, respectively.
Behind Force in the qualifying standings is 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champ Robert Hight who had a tough qualifying weekend. Hight's stated goal coming into the event was to gobble up as many qualifying bonus points as possible. He started the first session on the right foot picking up three points and then he grabbed another point in Friday night but he did not get on the scoreboard at all today. In the final session his Auto Club Ford Mustang had a mechanical failure that resulted in a sub-par run in his last attempt.
"We are just going to go out there and race hard tomorrow. We had a mechanical problem on that last run," said the four-time 2010 winner. "(It's) better to have that tonight rather than tomorrow morning in the first round. I hate to miss out on those qualifying bonus points though. There are four rounds of racing tomorrow. I have all the confidence in (crew chief) Jimmy Prock and my guys. We'll be ready."
The most consistent JFR team today was the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang piloted by Ashley Force Hood. She made two solid runs including a 4.099 second run in the last session that earned a bonus point as the third quickest of the session. Force Hood took the positives out of today's runs and will go into race day ready to go rounds.
"Both runs today gave me some confidence. They were in the heat. We didn't qualify that well because we didn't get a good run in the night session. There are plusses and minuses to that. The minus to missing the night session is it hurts you in qualifying position. The plus is running good in the night session won't help you on race day. If you are looking at wanting to win a race you would rather run good during the day. I think the only run we did not get down the track was the night run. That is a huge boost of confidence. Tomorrow we'll be racing during the day and we have a tune up for that," said Force Hood.
"Tomorrow will be interesting. There are only so many rounds left. It is getting a little nerve wracking. There are some really good teams out here and some of them are ahead of me in the points. We definitely don't need to stumble tomorrow. We need other teams to stumble. It is a really solid field and any one of the cars could win the race tomorrow. There are no easy matches. None of our teams race each other in the first round which is good. We'll just do our best."
After the spectacular explosion and body launch in the final session on Friday night Force Hood showed no ill effects on Saturday. When asked about any differences she was nonplussed about the whole affair.
"Everything seems identical to me. They make it that way but sometimes there will be differences but getting back in it today everything seemed fine. Everything worked flawlessly."