“Going into the No. 1 spot, obviously you never know what is going to happen on race day, but it definitely put us in a good position. I think we have a good race car. This Traxxas Ford Mustang is showing that it can run in the heat, it can run when the track cools down and I think we’re going to give everyone a run for their money,” said Force. She picked up eight bonus points over the two days of qualifying hits; the highest amount she has scored all season at any one event. She managed to score seven total bonus points at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals two weeks ago at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis where she also occupied the No. 1 spot.
The Rookie of the Year front-runner will have lane choice over the No. 16 qualifier, Todd Lesenko, in the opening round of eliminations tomorrow.
“We’re going to have lane choice tomorrow and it’s definitely where we want to be when we’re picking up those points, you know. It’s always good picking up those bonus points going into the Countdown to the Championship. We try to get every point we can because it’s all going to count in the end. But most importantly going to the No. 1 spot at the top and holding it for three rounds (of qualifying) and going into race day tomorrow,” said Force.
The youngest daughter of John Force suffered an unexpected first round loss in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout to Ron Capps, who eventually went on to race and finally fall to John Force in the final round of the Shootout.
“On the Traxxas Shootout, it was definitely unfortunate. Capps is tough to beat. He went out there and ran a great number in the heat. Unfortunately we dropped a hole and it threw a spark plug out, but that last run we went out there and we didn’t know if it was going to go down the track or not. We wanted to just push it as far as it could go and see what the track would take in the heat and we made a good number. We’re happy with how the runs have been and definitely feeling confident going into race day tomorrow,” said Force When asked if a pole position helped with the sting of a first round loss in the Traxxas Shootout, Force said, “Yes, it definitely does when you’re bummed that you can’t get that Traxxas Shootout win especially when you are the Traxxas Ford Mustang out there. You definitely want to get that win for your sponsors especially at their home track. They are based right out of here in Plano, Texas and we really wanted to get that win; really wanted to get that trophy. That was awesome, but you know what, I get to stare at it from afar because my dad will be holding it so it’s definitely cool.”
“I’m very proud to have accomplished that (No. 1 spot) at the track that my dad wins the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and I go No. 1 and we both do it at the track he crashed at a few years ago. It’s definitely a special moment for both of us,” she added.
Even with this being Force’s second No. 1 qualifier of the year, her rookie year at that, Force still feels like she needs to continue battling it out for Auto Club’s Road to the Future Award for NHRA’s top “Rookie of the Year,” despite being the only rookie to make the Countdown to the Championship and win an NHRA event.
“It’s definitely still on my mind. You never know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to keep going and pushing our car to do the best we can at every race, try to pick up as many points as possible and really just try to prove to everyone that we’re out here to win and (we are) not just a new driver. I am still learning, but I’m out here to win as well,” said Force.
“Obviously when we’re four of the eights cars in the Shootout we expected to at least go another round or two and unfortunately most of us went out in the first round, but to have my dad take it all the way and get the win is a huge accomplishment for us. When we’re bummed that we didn’t make it that far, at least a teammate and my dad was able to take that win home for John Force Racing and all of our sponsors, especially Auto Club because this is their race,” said Force.
In addition to the drama of Courtney Force staying in the No. 1 spot and John Force winning the inaugural Traxxas Nitro Shootout $100,000 top prize, the biggest positive for team Force might be the fact that Robert Hight and the AAA Insurance Ford Mustang will be racing on Sunday. Hight was on the outside looking in going into the final qualifying session. His final run of the day, a 4.257 second pass was good enough for No. 15 and a first round match-up with Tim Wilkerson.
“That last run was not that much pressure as a driver really. You don’t have to go up there and cut a light in qualifying. There was pressure for the first run of the Traxxas Shootout. I wasn’t qualified and theoretically you could win the Traxxas Shootout and not qualified for the race. It was a little crazy. That was a pressure run there and it didn’t go. I look back and if we would have been in a different position, like if it would have been race day I would have won that race,” said Hight.
“Not being qualified you have to give it every opportunity when it shakes to throw up and maybe smoke the tires. When you do that you are late catching it. In the position we were in I was stuck. Jimmy Prock made some changes and we limped it down there. It dropped a cylinder. We are going to come out swinging in the morning. We are going to be aggressive. We know you have to be when you are racing Tim Wilkerson in another Ford. We aren’t going to beat him by being shy out there. We are going to be aggressive tomorrow.” “We are going to race and have some fun. I told Jimmy that a few minutes ago. I told him sometimes there can be too many distractions. I told him he needed to race and to tune this thing to what he believes he can do tomorrow. Whatever combination he decides to run or whatever he thinks it needs he needs to do that. Nobody is going to second guess him and he needs to go out there and do what you believe. When he does that it is usually pretty good. I have all the confidence in the world in him,” added Hight.
Mike Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang flew under the radar today qualifying No. 5, with a solid 4.132 second pass on Friday night and looking to defeat Tony Pedregon in the first round. Neff has beaten Pedregon in three meetings this season and holds a 12-7 record over the two-time Funny Car world champion.
The Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang of John Force will go into race day at the Texas Motorplex as the No. 10 qualifier. For his efforts he will race 2012 Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan. In 2010 at the Texas Motorplex Force faced Hagan in the final with Hagan getting the best of the then 14-time champion. Force’s Mustang made three solid runs today never smoking the tires and he is excited about the prospect of getting his first post-accident win at the famed Texas Motorplex.
“The track wasn’t personal to me. It is just one of those things that happened. I met a lot of people today, none of the doctors, but they said I really looked good. They said it looked like I was walking good and driving good. It is kind of a mental deal when they told me I needed to focus on walking. I haven’t won this race and that is what I have said that I am not going to retire until I win this AAA Texas Fall Nationals but I won the race within the race. I got $100,000 which is pretty nice.”
After he laid claim to the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout title Force was pleased with how his Mustang had performed against Capps’ Dodge.
“Looking at the numbers my car was probably faster. My Mustang ran probably 4.18 or 4.19. It is one of those days. When I was his age I had just started winning. I love the kid and I have to be careful because my team is like we have to fight, fight,” said Force. “He is due for a championship. Maybe it won’t be this year but maybe it will. He will get it. He is just too good of a driver. I believe you have to earn it to win it. He has been there so many times. It ain’t him sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Him and (crew chief Rahn) Tobler will be OK but so will John Force Racing.”
Source: John Force Racing