Gainesville: John Force Racing Friday notes

MUSTANGS DOMINATE TOP SPOTS AT GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE -- Using absent crew chief John Medlen's "telephone tuneup," an ailing Mike Neff toughed his way through two qualifying runs Friday and John Force turned in another strong preliminary ...

MUSTANGS DOMINATE TOP SPOTS AT GATORNATIONALS

GAINESVILLE -- Using absent crew chief John Medlen's "telephone tuneup," an ailing Mike Neff toughed his way through two qualifying runs Friday and John Force turned in another strong preliminary performance as the Team Castrol/John Force Racing Mustangs went 2-3-6 and 16 at the 40th annual ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Suffering from a flu-like illness, Neff fought through dehydration to record times of 4.154 and 4.179 seconds that left his Ford Drive One Mustang No. 3 in the provisional order, just behind Force and surprise No. 1 Bob Tasca III.

Despite a pair of troubled runs, Ashley Force Hood ended the day in the No. 6 spot in the Castrol GTX Mustang at 4.179.

The only JFR driver whose time didn't carry over to Saturday was Robert "Top Gun" Hight whose Auto Club Ford suffered a mysterious engine explosion on the first attempt and shook the tires on the second. Hight will have two additional opportunities Saturday to make Sunday's 16-car lineup.

"I got qualified, but I don't feel good," Neff said. "It hasn't been a good day for me, personally. I haven't eaten in two days, I don't have any energy and I just want to go lay down (but) we are happy with the performance (of the race car). We got a little aggressive on that second run, but we (still) learned some things. We were trying to be aggressive. I (really) can't complain about the car."

Medlen, who is missing his second straight race while recovering from the effects of medical procedures linked to chest pains he suffered before Phoenix, has remained in contact with his driver and crew by telephone from his home in Indiana. He is following the race's progress on the internet.

Force, meanwhile, was second quickest overall with a time likely to assure himself a starting spot on Sunday. The 14-time NHRA champion is bidding for his eighth win at Gainesville but his first since 2001.

While he was pleased with the first day performance of his Castrol Edge Mustang, he also gave a shout out to second year pro Bob Tasca III, who was the provisional No. 1.

"That's awesome," he said of Tasca's 4.124 second run on Friday. "It's a Ford (and) at the end of the day, even though we want to whip him, he's my buddy. We have three Fords at the top (of the ladder). I have three of my Mustangs in right now pretty strong. Robert is the car I don't ever worry about. He's on the outside of the top 12, but he's sixteenth so (at least) if it rains, he's in."

Ashley Force, who wasn't even born the last time a woman won a pro championship at Gainesville in a four wheel vehicle (Shirley Muldowney in 1982), was pleased but not overly excited about her Friday performance in the Castrol GTX Ford.

"We made two A to B runs," she said, "but the car has been really upset. There are parts all over the place and I don't know if it has to do with the fact that this is different weather and it is so humid (or what).

"On the first run we didn't have any oil (pressure) but the crew guys said we put (a piston) in the pan. I saw a little flash of fire on that run, too. On the second run, it must have happened right when I was going through the lights because I didn't notice anything being wrong.

"Sometimes it's just like that when you are doing your routine. When I got down to the end and saw the trucks rolling onto the track I wasn't sure if it was for me or Cruz. Sometimes the little things look like the biggest things happened and other times it doesn't seem like anything went wrong and you had a problem."

***

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 2nd at 4.153 seconds, 288.52 MPH

Quotable: "(Bob) Tasca (III) is low qualifier. That is awesome. (He's in) a Ford. At the end of the day even though we want to whip him he's my buddy. We have three Fords at the top. I have three of my Mustangs in right now pretty strong. Robert (Hight) is the car I don't ever worry about. He is on the outside of the top 12 but he's sixteen so if it rains he is in."

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 6th at 4.179 seconds, 278.40 mph

Quotable: "On the first run we didn't have any oil but the crew guys said we put one in the pan. I saw a little flash of fire on that run too. On the second run it must have happened right when I was going through the lights because I didn't notice anything being wrong. Sometimes it is just like that when you are doing your routine."

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 16th quickest time at 5.578 seconds, 124.68 mph

MIKE NEFF, 41, Drive One Ford Mustang
Friday Qualifying: 3rd at 4.154 seconds, 300.93 mph

Quotable: "I got qualified but I don't feel good. It hasn't been a good day for me personally. I haven't eaten in two days, I don't have any energy and I just want to go lay down. We are happy with the performance. We got a little aggressive on that second run but we learned some things. We were trying to be aggressive. I can't complain about the car

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , John Force , Ashley Force , Bob Tasca III , John Medlen , Mike Neff