JOHN FORCE LEADS TEAM AFTER LONG DAY IN DENVER -Rain stretches NHRA national event qualifying to the limit- MORRISON, CO --- Persistent rain showers stretched Friday's first day of qualifying for the 30th annual MOPAR Mile High NHRA Nationals ...
JOHN FORCE LEADS TEAM AFTER LONG DAY IN DENVER
-Rain stretches NHRA national event qualifying to the limit-
MORRISON, CO --- Persistent rain showers stretched Friday's first day of qualifying for the 30th annual MOPAR Mile High NHRA Nationals nearly into Saturday. When the day finally ended John Force was the leader of the John Force Racing quartet of Mustangs in the No. 6 position. He was followed by daughter Ashley Force Hood in No. 7 and son-in-law Robert Hight in the No. 8 position, provisionally.
Ashley Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang came out swinging in the first session of Funny Car qualifying. As the points leader she was in the last pair of Funny Cars in the first session and she made the best pass of the first session, an impressive first round effort of 4.287 second run, at top speed 283.49 mph.
At the top end the only woman to lead the Funny Car points was a bit confused when she saw her qualifying partner Tony Pedregon talking with top end announcer Alan Reinhardt.
"I thought we were number two when I saw Tony (Pedregon) being interviewed. I knew it was a great side by side race. We were right there the whole run. I'll tell you it is the best feeling in the world to get that first run down the track A to B. Now the rest of these runs we can really push it," said Force Hood. "It is so strange with this altitude everything sounds different and feels different so before that run I told myself not to make any decisions because something feels a little different. We are happy to be here in Denver and the weather is perfect for us. We'll try it again tonight."
In the second session she was in the last pair of Funny Cars again with Tony Pedregon as both drivers were trying to chase down Tim Wilkerson who raced to the top spot during the second session. Pedregon was successful improving with a 1000 ft. track record run of 4.170 seconds.
Force Hood had her hands full as her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang got loose and violently swung back and forth. It was reminiscent of Force Hood's wall banging run in Seattle in 2007 but this time Force Hood wrestled the Mustang back under control and managed to keep it in her lane. It was an impressive driving display for the third year driver.
Ashley was able to remain the provisional top half of the field on the strength of her first run. She was joined in the top half of the Top Twelve provisional qualifiers by her father 14-time Funny Car champion John Force. Force stepped up in the second session running 4.270 seconds at 292.52 mph, landing in the No. 6 spot.
Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang were on a good run in the first session but his Mustang lifted the front tires, briefly taking away his steering and allowing the Mustang to drift out of the groove. Hight settled his fuel coupe down but it smoked the tires and he slowed to a disappointing 5.536 seconds which landed him in the No. 11 provisional qualifying spot after the first session.
In the second session the 2005 rookie of the year improved with at 4.309 second run at 281.36 mph. At the top end his Auto Club Ford Mustang pulled towards the guard wall but the veteran driver was able to keep the Mustang in his lane.
"That was worth waiting around for. It has been a long day. That was not one of our best runs. It must have had some cylinders out because it was on the wall and I could not get it off of it. I shut it off early but this Auto Club Ford Mustang is qualified and I am pretty sure that will stay in the Top Twelve today," said Hight.
Finally, Mike Neff driver of the Ford Drive One Mustang had his hands full during both laps when his Mustang got loose during his runs. In the first session as he was muscling his Mustang down the track the rear end whipped around to the left and clipped one of the timing cones giving the 2008 rookie of the year a DQ on his only session of the day. He will have both sessions tomorrow to record a time.
In the second session Neff got out of the groove at the top end and drifted to the center line. His Ford Drive One Mustang once again crossed the center line voiding his run. The 2008 rookie of the year will head into Saturday without a recorded time.
"It shook and I pedaled it. I was trying to get it down there. I knew it was towards the center. I had the wheel turned as much as I could. It just didn't work out," said Neff.