FORCE LEADS JFR INTO SUNDAY ELIMS AT DENVER DENVER, CO -- The final day of qualifying for the 31st annual MOPAR Mile High Nationals was bittersweet for John Force Racing. Matt Hagan snuck around John Force to take the No. 1 qualifying spot but...
FORCE LEADS JFR INTO SUNDAY ELIMS AT DENVER
DENVER, CO -- The final day of qualifying for the 31st annual MOPAR Mile High Nationals was bittersweet for John Force Racing. Matt Hagan snuck around John Force to take the No. 1 qualifying spot but Force held onto the No. 2 spot and Robert Hight will enter eliminations as the No. 4 qualifier. Ashley Force Hood is in the top half of the field in the No. 8 spot and all three JFR Ford Mustangs could advance to the semi-finals with strong efforts in the opening rounds.
For Force Hood the ladder set up is a nice change of pace. She has been eliminated by a teammate six times this season and in two of the past three races she has been bounced in the first round by either Force or Hight.
"It is such a relief after so many races this season when I always seem to be running dad or Robert in the first of second round. To finally have a perfect ladder really to be able to not race each other until the semi-finals or finals is nice. You have a whole different mind frame when you race a teammate versus another team. There is a difference between running Beckman and running Robert. One is your teammate and it is hard to have the same feeling like you would (racing against someone) from another camp. Beckman is a good friend of mine. I like racing him. I am looking forward to tomorrow. We have a good car," said Force Hood, the 2009 finalist at the Mile High Nationals.
By qualifying for Sunday's eliminations Force Hood punched her ticket for the 2010 Countdown to 1. She and Bob Tasca III were the fourth and fifth Ford Mustangs to secure one of the ten available slots.
"Qualifying for the Countdown does take some of the pressure off. There is still another race after this event before the Countdown starts but to have out of the way is big. Last year we clinch so much sooner it really does allow you to have a sigh of relief to be in," said Force Hood. "We have a good enough car and good enough team to get into the Countdown unless we had the worst luck possible but it is still nice to get it clinched now. I would also rather have it clinched during qualifying as opposed to during rounds when you are trying to focus on racing."
While Force Hood was wrapping up her Countdown spot Robert Hight and the Auto Club team were opening the day with the second quickest run. In the opening session Hight drove his Mustang to a blistering 4.218 second run which was hands down the run of the session. In the final qualifying session Hight carried the front end of his Mustang on the launch and he did not improve although he knows a better run was out there.
"In the first round (tomorrow) we'll have pretty good conditions and we'll need to flex. We were trying tonight. We got the front end in the air. I think we are in good shape. The right lane is a tough lane. I am sure we are going to do the best we can to stay in the left lane all day. We'll try and keep everybody else in the right. That was a pretty killer run in the first session," said Hight.
Team leader John Force ended his day with a solid 4.199 second run good enough for two bonus points. He'll go into eliminations tomorrow with a 48 point lead over Robert Hight and he is in control of his destiny to grab the top spot for the Countdown. Over the course of the weekend Force earned eight of the possible twelve qualifying bonus points. After his final qualifying run Force was excited about his prospects especially considering how well his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang ran all weekend.
"I have a good Ford here. I am excited to be back up here on this hill. It is fun the fans here are great. I have a good hot rod. I don't know what was going on in that right lane. I didn't think Robert could get down it and then Hagan runs that 4.16. That was a prayer on the mountain. He did it," said the 14-time champion. "Neff and everybody were running trying to step back on this thing. It just didn't have the soup. It is good it is consistent and we have three Mustangs that we can go out there tomorrow and see if we can do some damage to a lot of teams especially those Schumacher guys."