HIGHT, FORCES WOW TEXAS MOTORPLEX FRIDAY CROWD (DALLAS) --- It is still early in the 23rd O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals but what a difference a year makes for John Force Racing. Last year Robert"Top Gun" Hight missed...
HIGHT, FORCES WOW TEXAS MOTORPLEX FRIDAY CROWD
(DALLAS) --- It is still early in the 23rd O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals but what a difference a year makes for John Force Racing. Last year Robert"Top Gun" Hight missed the field and team leader John Force ended his weekend early after a near career-ending crash on Sunday.
Tonight before a packed Texas Motorplex crowd Hight made two tremendous runs including a 4.06 second blast in the second session that brought the NHRA fans to their feet. The run was the 2nd quickest since the NHRA truncated the racing distance to 1000 feet following the tragic loss of world champion Scott Kalitta. Hight also is the owner of the quickest 1000 foot pass set during the Seattle event in July. His excitement was evident at the top end of the race track immediately after his run.
"That is a great run for the AAA Texas team. What a difference a year makes. We came here last year and didn't qualify. We just have to forget that. We are looking like the Dallas Cowboys and that is what we want," said Hight.
Last year at the Fall Nationals Hight missed the show and was forced to watch his championship hopes take a huge hit. He knows that he has to make every run count this season if he is going to wind up on top at the last race in Pomona.
"Even though this is a year later being here still brings back memories of not qualifying last year once the Countdown started. Honestly that is what killed us for the championship. You think about that. Last year my Mustang was actually weak which is unusual for us with my crew chief Jimmy Prock. Usually we are too aggressive. Tonight we were set up perfectly because we went down the track and made a perfect run in the first session," said the two-time POWERade Championship runner-up. "We could get after it a little bit. The 4.06 was just an unbelievable run. It was perfectly straight. It was 267 mph at half track. It was flying. It is really huge to out qualify all these other guys in the Countdown which we did at Charlotte as well. As tight as Funny Cars are and as tight as the racing is the extra qualifying points in the end hopefully gets us the championship.
In the pair of Funny Cars that preceded Hight's moonshot teammate Ashley Force and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran identical elapsed times with veteran Del Worsham but her superior speed, 304.67 mph, gave her the tie-break and the No. 2 qualifying position heading into Saturday. That was the top speed of the event on Friday and left the 2007 Rookie of the Year with nothing but positive feelings heading into the last day of qualifying.
"Every run is important in this Countdown. I am glad to be back here in Dallas. We are all running really good. It should be a great race for the fans this weekend. We have more qualifying to go but my Castrol GTX Ford Mustang will be just fine," said the only female in the Funny Car Countdown field.
The most emotional runs of the day belonged to John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage team. In the first round he rolled his Ford Mustang into the left lane versus teammate Mike Neff. The veteran later said he felt a little nervous in the left lane considering what happened to him the last time he launched at the all-concrete track in Ennis. That run left him with multiple broken bones and kept him in Baylor University Medical Center and Baylor Rehabilitation Institute for nearly a month.
Today he made a solid run, quickest of the first qualifying session, but he was not satisfied. He knew he would have to step up under the Friday night lights if he was going to break his qualifying drought.
"You know Castrol and Ford and AAA Texas they all know how hard we work. When you see Ashley go down there and put up a big number in her Castrol GTX Mustang that makes me happy. Robert is coming up and he'll be great. We've been struggling but everyone has been behind us. We are going to get this old heap fixed and I'm excited."
Force rose to the occasion and made a solid run of 4.109 seconds, good enough for the No. 7 spot. With temperatures expected to rise tomorrow Force and his team are confident he'll be racing on Sunday once again.
Rookie Mike Neff and his Old Spice team struggled to get down the track posting the 17th quickest time of the day. Crew Chief John Medlen and Neff will luckily be able to lean on their JFR teammates overnight and put together a tune-up that will get the prohibitive Rookie of the Year favorite in the show for Sunday.