Sonoma: John Force Racing Saturday notes

NEFF, FORCE HOOD KEEP STATUS QUO ON SONOMA SATURDAY JFR Looking to Extend Win Streak at Infineon - SONOMA, CA --- After the last two qualifying sessions of the 22nd annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals the drivers of John Force Racing ...

NEFF, FORCE HOOD KEEP STATUS QUO ON SONOMA SATURDAY
JFR Looking to Extend Win Streak at Infineon -

SONOMA, CA --- After the last two qualifying sessions of the 22nd annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals the drivers of John Force Racing are positioned in almost the same spots as they were at the beginning of the day. Mike Neff, Ashley Force Hood, and John Force all held onto their provisional spots of No.2, No. 3 and No. 8 respectively. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang slipped one spot from No. 10 to No. 11 but there is a silver lining to that cloud for the defending event champion.

Hot conditions plagued all the professional Nitro teams as they battled the Infineon Raceway track on Saturday. While almost no teams improved their performance numbers dramatically over the Friday night session, during the day John Force Racing had a number of highlights.

Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One Mustang made the second quickest run of the third qualifying session. Racing in near race day conditions Neff piloted the John Medlen tuned Mustang to a 4.172 second run as the sun-baked the Northern California track. After that run Neff was all smiles during his top end interview.

"I am really proud of my team right now. Yesterday was fun. It is always fun to slug it out in those conditions like last night but today it what counts. This is the kind of weather we will be racing in tomorrow. My Ford is running well. It is just a lot of fun being out here. That was a big run and I am more pleased with that run than our run last night," said the 2005 world champion crew chief turned driver.

"I think (crew chiefs) are tip-toeing quite a bit right now. This is the warmest track condition we have seen all weekend. You take your best educated guess and you either hit it good or you don't. If you miss you are playing catch-up the rest of the weekend. If you hit it right it seems like you are on the offense. That was an important run right there."

Not to be outdone Ashley Force Hood drove her Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas tuned Ronald McDonald House Charities Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the quickest time of the final qualifying session. The 4.174 second run was a shade quicker than fellow Ford racer Bob Tasca III's 4.177 to wrap up the session. Force Hood will enter her third FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals full of confidence thanks to a quick decision by her co-crew chiefs.

"We definitely have the most confidence after that run. It was still pretty warm out so it should be similar to the conditions we'll have tomorrow. I know Ron and Guido were debating something right before the run. They decided not to change anything and see if it would go. I am really glad they made that decision and now we see how far we can push it in those conditions," said Force Hood.

14-time champion John Force made two solid runs on Saturday in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. In the first session of Saturday he covered the 1000 ft. race track in 4.196 seconds and to end the day he slowed a bit but still out ran former protege Tony Pedregon with a 4.211.

"This isn't the Ford Mustang it used to be but we are drawing from a lot of people on our team. Robert's, Mike's and Ashley's Mustangs are all helping us. It is a good enough car that could win this race tomorrow. I ain't getting no cuter but I am getting smarter. I am going to learn how to win with this hot rod. I want to thank Castrol, Ford, BrandSource, Auto Club, and Sanyo that give us the opportunity to come out here and play ball. It is great to be a part of it and be racing with my friends like (Tony) Pedregon. It is just a great time," said Force from the top end.

Finally Robert Hight and the Auto Club team have the most to gain tomorrow. The two drivers in front of him in the point standings Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon will race each other in the first round. Also even though he dropped back one qualifying position starting from the No. 11 position is exactly where Hight began his 2008 campaign at Infineon Raceway that ended with him hoisting the "Wally" in the winner's circle.

"That will be a big race between (Cruz) Pedregon and (Matt) Hagan in the first round. It ain't going to do us any good unless this Auto Club Ford takes advantage and wins some rounds. That is what needs to happen. We are running out of time. We'll be fine trust me. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock will have this thing tuned up and we'll get this thing going down the track tomorrow just like we did last year," said Hight.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Bob Tasca III , John Medlen , Mike Neff