Brainerd: John Force Racing Friday notes

JOHN FORCE, MIKE NEFF STEP UP FRIDAY AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, MN --- John Force threw down the gauntlet to his crew chiefs prior to the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. They needed to immediately step up ...

JOHN FORCE, MIKE NEFF STEP UP FRIDAY AT BRAINERD

BRAINERD, MN --- John Force threw down the gauntlet to his crew chiefs prior to the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. They needed to immediately step up the performance of his four Mustangs across the board with three races left before the cut-off for the Countdown to One.

On Friday during the second qualifying session Force's crew chief brain-trust of Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly stepped up to the challenge tuning his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a 4.245 second run at 281.19 mph good enough for the provisional number one spot at the time. Unfortunately Force's first round time left him in the middle of the qualifying session and a number of hitters followed him ultimately pushing him back to number three spot as 2008 Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon and fellow Ford Mustang driver Bob Tasca III improved as well.

At the top end following his pass Force knew holding on to the number one spot would be problematic.

"When you have to run this early because you are bad the round before they know what is out there just by watching you. No big deal. We'll see what happens," said the winner of 11 of the past 15 Brainerd national events. "For Castrol, Ford, Auto Club and Mac Tools a lot of people it is really an exciting time for us. For the fans it is good to be back in Brainerd and hear them cheer. Thank you for just bringing NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing here it is really cool."

A few pairs after Force's run John Force Racing teammates Mike Neff and Robert Hight made their second qualifying runs with mixed results. Both of these drivers are battling to stay or move up into the Top Ten.

Neff and his John Medlen tuned Ford Drive One Mustang blasted down the 1000 foot track flying through the speed traps in 4.267 seconds at 273.50 mph. Hight piloting his Auto Club Ford Mustang was less than spectacular slowing to 5.101 seconds. At the top end Neff was excited with his team's performance but he was also looking forward to getting back on the track on Saturday.

"It left good and then it put a cylinder out. It just took off on me. It probably looked like Ray Charles was driving it. It is tricky out there but the Ford Drive One Mustang moved up to number two," said Mike Neff who eventually landed in the number four provisional spot. "Right now that is not too bad. Hopefully conditions will be a little bit better tomorrow and we can improve on that. Not bad."

After the first session Hight summed his goals for this weekend and they did not include one of the most popular Brainerd pastimes.

"We've been working really hard on this Auto Club Ford Mustang. We were testing in Norwalk and then in Indianapolis. I didn't come to Brainerd to fish I came to get into the Countdown to One. We'll keep working at it," said Hight.

Hight will go into Saturday's qualifying rounds on the outside of the provisional top twelve but he will not be alone as Ashley Force Hood, currently number three in the Full Throttle points standings, and her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang struggled in both sessions today. In the first session she shook the tires loose at half track and slowed to 5.492 seconds. During the Friday night session she improved slightly running 5.177 seconds but not enough to work her way into the top twelve.

-credit: jfr

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