JFR MUSTANGS BATTLE DURING SEATTLE FRIDAY QUAL. -Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood in Top Half- KENT, WA --- On a hot track at Pacific Raceways outside Seattle John Force Racing had a lukewarm first day of qualifying at the 22nd annual NHRA...
JFR MUSTANGS BATTLE DURING SEATTLE FRIDAY QUAL.
-Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood in Top Half-
KENT, WA --- On a hot track at Pacific Raceways outside Seattle John Force Racing had a lukewarm first day of qualifying at the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals.
Ashley Force Hood debuted her bright yellow Ronald McDonald House Charities themed Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a warm reception from the crowd. The Mustang got down the track in the first qualifying session with a solid pass. Hopes were high for the second session but unfortunately in a side by side qualifying pass with her father 14-time champion John Force she spun the tires and lifted. Her first run of 4.320 seconds at 249.26 mph was good enough to grab the No. 7 provisional qualifying spot.
"On the first run it was on a pretty good run. I lifted early. It spun pretty good and I think it might have dropped cylinder. I had the feeling that something was wrong. I thought about it a moment and then I decided to lift," said the current co-points leader with veteran Ron Capps. "Looking back I could have stayed in it. We ran a 4.32. I didn't realize it was on a good pass like that considering I lifted too early. I thought we ran like a 4.50 or something. If it ran a .32 and I lifted pretty early I think it was on a pretty good run. I am a little frustrated with myself."
"On this last run (co-crew chiefs) Guido (Dean Antonelli) and Ron (Douglas) are looking at the data to see what happened. I know they weren't expecting that. We looked at the video and I was in the groove. We are not defeated by any means. We ended up No. 7 on the strength of our first run so it is not like we are lost. That first run I lifted early. With only sixteen funny cars you don't have that pressure on you and we can get a good day in tomorrow that hopefully will be similar conditions to Sunday."
"We are No. 7 right now and I made it to the finals in Denver from the 7th spot. With this Castrol GTX Ford Mustang there is never a bad spot to be in."
Robert Hight made a solid run to start the day but he also suffered tire shake in the second session and did not improve. The Auto Club Ford Mustang is battling to move up in the point standings. It is sitting in the No. 12 position in the Full Throttle points and needs to reach the Top Ten by the conclusion of the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.
Today Hight knew that he needed to fight for every point and take advantage of every opportunity on the track.
"We have dug ourselves a hole in this Auto Club Ford Mustang and we've got to get out of it. Nothing is better than getting in the race car and racing every week. I love this Western Swing. That first round was exactly what we needed to do. We don't need to set the world on fire out there on a 130 degree track. A 4.32 will get you some rounds on Sunday if it is hot like this," said Hight after his first pass.
2008 Rookie of the Year Mike Neff and his Ford Drive One Mustang were hamstrung by blower belt problems during both sessions. A disappointed Neff recounted his struggles at the top end of the race track.
"We had blower belt problems again. We dropped a cylinder and then broke the blower belt. It felt like it was on a pretty good run. It is a shame the fuse is a little short right now. We can work this out by tomorrow and get this Ford Drive One Mustang headed in the right direction," said Neff.
Team leader John Force who last year did not qualify at this event will have two shots tomorrow to improve on his performance. His Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang smoked the tires in the second session. The winningest driver in NHRA history will go into Saturday's last day of qualifying with the 15th quickest time of Friday.