ASHLEY FORCE LEADS FRIDAY FIELD AT SONOMA -Leaking Fuel Line Dooms Hight's Night Session Run- (SONOMA, CA) --- At the 21st annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals Ashley Force led the way for John Force Racing grabbing the third provisional No. 1 ...
ASHLEY FORCE LEADS FRIDAY FIELD AT SONOMA
-Leaking Fuel Line Dooms Hight's Night Session Run-
(SONOMA, CA) --- At the 21st annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals Ashley Force led the way for John Force Racing grabbing the third provisional No. 1 qualifying spot of her career. The 2007 Rookie of the Years hopes to hold onto the No. 1 spot for the first time when qualifying continues tomorrow at Infineon Raceway.
As the track cooled and conditions improved the sophomore driver was anxious to get her second qualifying session out of the way. Lengthy delays in the first round forced the NHRA to juggle the schedule and teams had a shortened timeframe to make it back for their second run. Force had 100% confidence in her team but also knew that some times haste makes waste.
"It was kind of a rush between rounds. My guys were working so hard and you never know, you get a little nervous thinking, 'Did we put everything back together right?' 'Did we do everything we wanted to?' They never let me down," said Force. "They got it done exactly how they wanted it to be done. It showed when it went right down the track. It was easy for me the driver to get it from A to B."
If Force's time holds up she knows that starting from the number one spot will be an emotional experience. The southern California resident has a lifetime of fond memories from Infineon Raceway.
"This track is one of the closest to where I live. We always came here in the summer when we were kids. It just has a lot of special moments for us; Eric (Medlen in 2006) winning, the whole going to the spa episode (for A&E Driving Force reality television show) and dad (14-time champion John Force) winning last year. All the Oakdale (Medlen's hometown) family is here at this race. It is just that much more meaningful for our team if we can get that win for Eric."
As the session came to an end Force was looking for some extra help from a special friend to hold onto the No. 1 spot.
"I knew Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight were up so I thought it was nice while it lasted, the No. 1 spot, but I had a feeling it was going to be taken from me. I don't know what happened to Robert's car but it didn't start," said Force. "I though maybe Eric was helping me out a little bit in keeping that number one spot. We'll take it anyway we can get it."
Hight's inability to make a second qualifying session was the biggest surprise of the day in the professional classes. In the much hotter first session Hight was head and shoulders above the rest of the class covering the track in 4.194 seconds. With cool conditions and the rest of the class stepping up the ever optimistic Hight was ready to rocket to the top of the field but that optimism was replaced with disappointment after he shut off his Auto Club Ford Mustang on the starting line. Crew chief Jimmy Prock noticed a flare was cracked on the idle nozzle creating a fuel line leak.
"It was huge to not get that last run. It just goes to show you how important that first run was to make a decent enough run to get qualified. We knew before the run that we were going to be in for sure in the 11th spot. That means all six guys behind us are going to have to run better than us to bump us out and I don't think that will happen," said the No. 1 qualifier at the Schuck's Auto Parts Supply NHRA nationals last week. "Guys were ripping numbers off out there and last week we were so good with that 4.05 we were licking our chops tonight. We knew there was a run out there. Honestly this car is capable of doing it. It kind of hurt us. Jimmy thinks tomorrow if it is hot we can actually improve on that 4.19 and maybe move up a little in the field."
John Force stepped up mightily in the second session with a 4.119 second run at 298.80 mph, to land in the No. 4 qualifying spot.
Rookie Mike Neff made the 14th quickest pass of the day but his time will not carry over to tomorrow. He will be forced to make one of the four quickest runs of the five Funny Cars on the outside of the top twelve tomorrow.