Denver: John Force Racing Saturday notes

JOHN FORCE BEST OF JFR MUSTANGS AT DENVER MORRISON, CO --- A tough two days of qualifying ended for John Force Racing at the 30th annual MOPAR Mile High NHRA Nationals with team leader John Force posting the best qualifying effort, No. 6, of...


MORRISON, CO --- A tough two days of qualifying ended for John Force Racing at the 30th annual MOPAR Mile High NHRA Nationals with team leader John Force posting the best qualifying effort, No. 6, of his four Ford Mustangs.

Force ran a team best 4.176 seconds in the last qualifying session on Thunder Mountain. For his efforts he will match up with son-in-law Robert Hight who struggled on the mountain and wound up No. 11.

"(On racing Robert Hight in first round) it is just the way it is. Our race car stepped up tonight. His car is starting to come around. We made the show all four Mustangs and we are going to go out there and do our best," said Force. "I root for Auto Club because they are my sponsor and I root for Castrol naturally and Ford. Tomorrow me and Robert are just going to have to fight it out. Whoever gets it; gets it. He needs it real bad to move up (in the Full Throttle point standings) but we have plenty of time to get him there. I need to stay in. We'll see what happens."

As one of the most experienced funny car drivers to have ever raced at Bandimere Speedway Force was able to talk with his team about what it will take to get to the winner's circle. He also knows that he will have to rely on his crew chief brain-trust to adjust to new weather conditions for the first round of eliminations after two days of evening qualifying.

"We are going to be put into the heat of the day (during the first round). The crew chiefs are going to have to pull everything back. A driver will have to pace themselves tomorrow on the hill. I never even knew for years that the altitude was affecting me with my reaction times and everything," said the winningest driver in NHRA history. "We just have to do what we do and the Western Swing has started. One of these Ford Mustangs needs to win here for all our sponsors Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools, and Sanyo."

Full Throttle points leader Ashley Force Hood will enter Sunday's eliminations from the No. 7 position and will face veteran Del Worsham. Force Hood made her best run of the weekend in the last session, a solid 4.185 second run at 301 mph.

"The whole weekend has been a little strange. That run (the last qualifying run) was the most like how we are used to running. It went right down the middle, no problems, and no scares. We made a really good pass. I think tomorrow the conditions will be a lot warmer," said the Funny Car points leader. "It is still great finish off the qualifying session on a strong note. We are going into tomorrow knowing that we can get down either lane. We made it down both lanes today. Today was just a good qualifying day for us."

Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team had been on an upswing heading into the Western Swing. In Norwalk he qualified No. 2 and dropped a close second round race to John Force.

His two days at Bandimere Speedway proved that he will have a substantial mountain to climb as he tries to crack into the Full Throttle Top Ten. For the third race in a row and the fourth time in 2009 Hight will have to race team owner John Force. In their previous two meeting Hight has come up on the short end of the stick versus Force's Castrol GTX High Mileage team.

Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One Mustang team struggled the most of the John Force Racing contingent never getting the handle on the tricky track and altitude. In his first two passes Neff hit timing cones disqualifying his times. In the first session on Saturday he made a 5.118 second run. He capped his qualifying effort with a less than stellar final run that included a blown burst panel that ended any hope of improvement. He will race Tony Pedregon in the first round as he tries to hold onto his Top Ten status.

"We are still looking into what happened on that last run. It looked like the ignition dropped out of it. As a result it just popped. It didn't bang the blower it just opened up the burst panel. Something just popped in there. It was a tough break," said Neff. "The positive is it was going down the track that time and it appeared to be doing what we wanted it to do. We got a little bit of a step in the right direction. It has to go sooner or later and hopefully it will tomorrow."

Neff couldn't even take any positives from the first day of qualifying. Today the 2008 Rookie of the Year was able to work with crew chief John Medlen and glean some positive information from his on track efforts.

"We shook and pedaled it so those two runs were aborted runs. We didn't really learn anything off of those. Today the first run we learned a little bit. We made some adjustments and we appeared to be doing what we wanted it to do but it looks like we had a short in the ignition. We are trying to diagnose that right now. We have nothing to lose tomorrow and we are going to go after it."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , John Medlen , Mike Neff