Charlotte: Ford drivers preview

This Week in Ford Racing: March 24, 2010 This weekend history will be made at zMAX Dragway when all four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing classes run four-wide for qualifying and eliminations. Ford Racing Funny Car and Pro Stock drivers give their...

This Week in Ford Racing:
March 24, 2010

This weekend history will be made at zMAX Dragway when all four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing classes run four-wide for qualifying and eliminations. Ford Racing Funny Car and Pro Stock drivers give their thoughts on how it will affect their racing and what it means for the sport.

JOHN FORCE - driver/owner Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car

"I'm excited to do something new and adventurous with NHRA, bringing my three Ford Mustangs there. With [Bob] Tasca and [Tim] Wilkerson there will be five Mustangs competing overall, and naturally my three drivers, 2009 Champion Robert Hight, Ashley Force Hood and myself. I wouldn't say that we have an advantage, but two of my teams did run in the exhibition last year, Mike Neff and myself. Mike finished number one and I was the runner- up, so if anyone knows anything about the four lane, we do. Could be a little advantage, but it will be exciting, it's different. We felt that Bruton Smith deserved the four-lane race, for the investment that he has made in NHRA. The same investment that Ford has made in the NHRA as the Official Vehicle. We look for a great race and hopefully one of the Fords will win!"

ROBERT HIGHT - driver, Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car

"They are changing the whole tree around. I get into Charlotte on Wednesday and on Thursday the NHRA wants us on the starting line with our car sitting in it. They have two different versions of the tree for us to look at. We have to get out there and make sure that we can see out of this 2010 Ford Mustang and see what we need to see. I think there is one tree that has stacked bulbs and one that has the bulbs all in a row. You just have to adapt and stand on the gas first. I was doing a pretty good job of that this in Gainesville. I am actually looking forward to getting back on the track. A few racers came over and wanted to know what we had done to my Auto Club Ford Mustang to get it to react so well. We are getting them thinking, which is good. Charlotte is where my season turned around (last year). It will be awesome. The NHRA had a great turnout at the Gatornationals and I think the four-wide race will bring even more people out to the track. I am really looking forward to all that."

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD - driver, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car

"The last couple of seasons the fans [in Charlotte] have really taken to drag racing. You could tell a lot of the fans were new to it but they were very excited. They could not believe the power and the sound. We aren't the same as NASCAR and we like that. It is our differences that make us pretty amazing. Our speeds and how quick our runs go are what set us apart. We just want more fans to come out. Any NASCAR fan is a motorsports fan and I think any fan of motorsports can become a fan of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing."

"I really haven't thought about racing four-wide that much. It is definitely something that is a huge difference from what we are used to doing. Really it is not that different. It goes back to the way you think about it. You can't mentally make it a big deal. It is going to be amazing for everyone to watch but as a driver I am just focusing on following my usual routine. We can give ourselves an advantage if we really try and not over think the whole process. You can't think about running three other people. I think anyone that tries to do weird stuff will just mess themselves up. This will be very different for all of us, even the veteran drivers."

BOB TASCA III - driver/owner, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car

"I'm excited about it because it's the first time it's ever been done, and whenever you can be a part of history, whether you're a fan, a spectator, a driver or a crewmember, I think there's a lot of nostalgic value about it. Whether or not it's the direction the sport is heading in? I think the jury is still out on that. It's always been side-by-side racing. Its always been one guy goes home and one guy wins. Now two people go home, and two people win, up until the final round. I think the fans will ultimately decide whether or not this is something they are excited about, and would want to see again. It will cut the racing down; it will be half the number of rounds. When you look at winning, the more competitive teams have an advantage up until the final round because two of the four cars go on."

DO YOU HAVE TO RACE DIFFERENT FOR FOUR-WIDE? "The only thing that will be different this weekend is staging. Once the stage bulb is on and the amber flashes, you could have ten cars running next to you, and it wouldn't make a difference. I'm so focused in my lane, driving my Mustang and making the proper inputs to get the car from A to B. To me, it doesn't matter how many people are racing next to you. Other than getting over the first number of staging process, which we'll get done on Friday, I don't think it will make much of a difference at all."

TIM WILKERSON -driver/owner Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car

"Well, I wasn't there when they first talked about it, but I think it is pretty distracting. After a second look at it, I think anything that brings attention to the sport and gives my sponsors and Ford Motor Company more exposure is a good thing. That is what it is all about. We are out there as entertainers and I think it will be a neat thing for the fans, no doubt about that. It will be something that they can talk about forever. I think we will sell some tickets and have some fun with it. Hopefully it will be smooth as silk. I will be interested to see if at the last minute the first car with lane choice decides to change lanes to see how we will be pushing our cars around in circles to figure out which lane we have next."

LARRY MORGAN - driver, Lucas Oil Pro Stock Ford Mustang

"I watched the exhibition races last year in Charlotte. I've never done it, but it's kind of exciting to have something different. It's kind of exciting to do it. I don't know what's going to happen or how it's going to work, but I'm excited to have a little bit of change. I don't see anything to do to prepare any differently. We're just going to have four lanes and to say I would prepare any different I would have to say no, because it's all new to all of us. I think it will be pretty neat. I can't wait because we're working on issues that we've had with the car and I can't wait to get to the track to run. It was real disappointing in Gainesville. We know we can run better, I've proved that I could run better. I just had an issue and I just have to take care of it."

JOHN NOBILE - driver/owner Nobile Trucking Pro Stock Ford Mustang

"I have absolutely no experience with it. I've never raced four-wide. I got into racing at age 16, and four-wide racing was on its way out. They did race four-wide right here at Long Island at National Speedway, but I never participated in it. It was just about a year or two before my time. I don't believe there's anything different today other than understanding the light system. It will be ok for qualifying, but for race day, I'm not convinced. Racing is 90% luck and 10% skill. The last thing you want to do is give up some of that luck, have something go wrong, and not understand that the last guy wasn't staged. Come race day, when you stage, and your opponent stages last, you have to be ready."

TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON TO DATE AND RACING IN CHARLOTTE. "I hope Charlotte is the turning point for Larry [Morgan] and me. I know Larry qualified in Pomona and Phoenix, and neither one of us qualified in Gainesville. We've been struggling because the whole program started on paper not too long ago. To go from a paper program into a race car program has bee difficult, but we're growing and learning as we go. I know I didn't qualify, but I'm right there."

-source: ford racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Mike Neff