Baytown: John Force Racing Friday report

FORCE'S FORDS 1-2-3 ON FRIDAY AT O'REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS BAYTOWN, TX --- Led by 14-time Funny Car champion and current Full Throttle points leader John Force the top of the provisional Funny Car qualifying sheet is dominated by the Ford...


BAYTOWN, TX --- Led by 14-time Funny Car champion and current Full Throttle points leader John Force the top of the provisional Funny Car qualifying sheet is dominated by the Ford Mustangs of John Force Racing. Force blasted down the Houston Raceway Park track at a near record setting 4.021 seconds. Force can set a national ET record and grab 20 bonus points this weekend by running within 1% of that time or 4.061 seconds. The crew chief triumvirate of Austin Coil, Mike Neff and Bernie Fedderly has Force running roughshod over the Funny Car category to start the 2010 Full Throttle season.

"It is excellent conditions out there. It was a little warm today but we could still run good. It was just really good right now. Mike Neff said hang on. He said I'll give you eight cylinders and a smooth clutch transition. He asked me to keep it in the groove which I know how to do. He said it will go down there. I haven't forgotten everything. It went and it wasn't even on the edge. It was really a smooth ride. It didn't rattle hardly any. It had a little more pop in it," said Force.

"One of the things I love about Coil is one day he said adding Mike Neff was like having a couple of old dogs up on the couch (Coil and Fedderly) and all of a sudden you have a young pup (Neff) up there running around barking all the time and grabbing our food. He said it made them get up and they really jelled together. Smart people tend to figure it out. Coil and Bernie really welcomed Neff with open arms. It was just great timing."

"I am excited to have Ford back for five more years and we are talking to Castrol. We are celebrating 25 years with Castrol this year. We have Auto Club of Texas this weekend. Having that Ford deal was very critical. Now we are all one Ford. We still have to race each other but what I would like to see is Tasca or Wilkerson get those No. 4 and No. 5 spots or No. 1 I don't care as long as we can line these Fords up. I would like to be low but at the end of the day we want our teams to do their jobs and then put on a show. Texas beat me up a little bit over there in Dallas a few years back now Texas is being good to me again," said Force.

Force has had a resurgent year after a dismal 2009 season. He has stayed upbeat and relied on the logic that was passed down from his father as well as Funny Car legend Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen.

"My dad always told me if there were no oranges on the ground you need to shake the tree. Then you'll have lots of oranges. I just kept shaking the tree and moving people around. Robert won the championship and Ashley finished No. 2. She always had a good car. I shook our tree and it has worked out so far so good," added Force.

"We have seen this happen you get hot and then you get slow. We are not in the heat season. Let's see how these three puppies the two old ones and the young one can run in the heat. That is going to be critical in a month or so from now. I am just excited. I was a pretty good race car driver for a number of years. Even when I was doing terrible I still thought I was doing great."

"Tom McEwen said to me you don't know how bad you look. I was in the cellar of the points and he even said I let a girl outrun me. He told me I owed the fans. I told him I was doing everything I could do but he told me I wasn't. He told me I lost the eye of the tiger. He told me I was focused on everybody else. I wasn't watching me to see that I wasn't doing my job. I wanted to win for the fans that stood by me all these years. Even when I stunk they kept telling me how good I was. I needed a wake up by an old master, the Mongoose. He told me I owed them better. That was last year at the last race."

"I came out swinging at Pomona this year and the fans do deserve for me to do well. The day I can't do well I am going to get out of the seat. They are going to have to drag me from the seat because you are not going to be able to make me believe that I can't do this. I really do love it."

Right behind Force is 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight. Hight tripped the finish line lights with a 4.051 second run. His AAA Texas Ford Mustang then blew up slinging Hight into the next lane which was luckily not being occupied by Cruz Pedregon. As Hight wrestled his Mustang to a stop he was having flashbacks to his first round run in Charlotte where he rubbed Jeff Arend after his BOSS 500 motor lost half its cylinders and overpowered his control.

"I had my hand on the chute and I had closed the throttle then it just blew up. It was an unbelievable explosion. It blew my hand off the steering wheel. It had the rear end so far off the ground it moved over into Cruz's lane. I couldn't see anything because my body was broken back up to the windshield. I could look out the side window and all I saw was guard wall on Cruz's side. I had a flash back to last week in Charlotte. I was wondering where Cruz was. It was hauling. If we get this Mustang right this thing will run a lot quicker," said Hight in his race trailer lounge.

A few pairs after Hight's run Ashley Force Hood made a picture perfect run of 4.060 at 312.06 mph grabbing the No. 3 spot. It was a banner day for Force Hood who made a solid run in first qualifying session setting up an aggressive second run.

"That was a really good way to end the day. When you are watching a lot of the pairs in front of us and they were having some problems. I had a really good feeling about the run. I just felt like it was going to go right down there and not have any issues. It felt really good. It was really smooth. Anytime you can start your first day of qualifying strong it follows through for the rest of the weekend," said Force Hood.

"You just feel better about it. The toughest thing in the world is to not get down the track on your first run because then it seems like you are just playing catch up with yourself the rest of the weekend. We feel good about today. We ran good once during the day and we ran good in the evening. Tomorrow I am sure Ron and Guido will get ready for Sunday."

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Ashley Force , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , Mike Neff