Indy ORP: John Force Racing Saturday notes

HIGHT HOLDS ONTO NO.1 FOR SECOND DAY IN INDY -JFR Mustangs Hold Top Four Qualifying Spots- INDIANAPOLIS --- Big time players make big time plays when the lights are the brightest and the pressure is the most intense. On Saturday night at...

-JFR Mustangs Hold Top Four Qualifying Spots-

INDIANAPOLIS --- Big time players make big time plays when the lights are the brightest and the pressure is the most intense. On Saturday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis the quartet of John Force Racing Ford Mustangs proved for one night they were some of the biggest players on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

John Force Racing was led once again by Robert Hight, who raced to the top of the field at the biggest race of the season, for the second day in a row. Hight is battling for his play-off life versus Cruz Pedregon and rookie Matt Hagan.

"It is a big deal to out qualify Cruz (Pedregon). Had I been number four and Cruz gone to number one that would have changed everything. Then we would have had to make up three rounds on Monday. Getting number one was big. It is still not over yet because they are calling for clouds tomorrow and if we have clouds tomorrow NHRA has done a great job with this race track and there could be a lot of ohs tomorrow," said an excited Hight. "To be able to come up here two nights in a row as the No. 1 qualifier in the position we are in, chasing and trying to get in this Countdown. You couldn't ask for any more."

As Hight's Mustang rolled into his pit area the mob of fans assembled roared their approval. The positive vibe was not ignored or taken for granted. They were cheering for the entire team an appreciative of all the team's efforts.

"There were so many people back in our pits. 1-2-3-4 right now for John Force Racing Ford Mustangs has never happened. We have had it lined up before and somebody has messed it up. It can get messed up tomorrow trust me. Going into tomorrow that is quite an accomplishment at the biggest race of the year," said Hight. "We are without Austin Coil so he has been calling and we talk with him all day. He is helping. This will be great medicine for him. We need him out here."

Weather conditions were nearly optimal and as the sun faded and the red moon rose the Mustangs thundered at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. In the final qualifying session of the day 4-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals champion John Force was forced to run in the first pair of funny cars after his stellar Saturday afternoon run of 4.153 seconds was tossed out when his Mustang body was ruled to be too low. Paired with newcomer Justin Schriefer Force blasted down the track with an eye opening 4.107 second, 307.09 mph run. The run equaled son-in-law Robert Hight's best run and ironically moved him to the top of the funny car field by virtue of a faster mile per hour.

Pair after pair of funny cars traversed the historic track but none equaled or surpassed Force's effort until there were only two pairs of funny cars left. Of those two pairs John Force Racing Mustangs comprised 75% of the cars racing.

As the next to last pair of funny cars Robert Hight and the Auto Club teamed shared the track with teammate Ashley Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Mustang. Flashbulbs lit up the sky when both cars launched and flew down the track. At the finish line the scoreboards lit up with 4.082 and 4.093 seconds for Hight and Force Hood, respectively. They had both moved around Force, bumping him to third, and re-asserting Hight as the best funny car on the property.

"Those are the best for the night runs especially the side-by-side runs. They are fun for the fans to watch and obviously to be a part of. We were able to step on it a little more since we were at the back of the pack," said Force Hood. "I am sure (co-crew chiefs) Ron (Douglas) and Guido (Dean Antonelli) are happy since what they were trying worked out. Tomorrow we will have a different game plan for the afternoon runs."

"You can feel when it is hitting on all eight and it is really pulling. That is a good feeling. I knew he was right out my window so I knew he was on a good run too. It's cool we were able to get the fastest mile per hour," said Force Hood on her top speed effort. "It felt like a really good run. I knew it was on a good pass. We are pretty pumped about it. We used our night qualifying session the best we could. Nothing went wrong and we got a good run from it."

In the final pair Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One Mustang would run beside Hight's chief competitor in his quest for the final spot in the Countdown to 1, Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon had made the best run of the early session, a 4.134 second run, and he was gunning for Hight's top spot. It was not to be for the 2008 Full Throttle Funny Car champion as he slowed to 4.155 seconds.

Neff on the other hand made his best run of the weekend, a 4.093 second run, and he moved into the number three position bumping Force to number four. As the second year driver watched his teammates light up the scoreboard he knew he was in a unique position.

"You are just really excited to go, especially when you know the car is set up to run a good number. There is nothing like the sensation of running really quick. You can tell the difference with the G forces and the way it puts you back in the seat. That is the biggest thrill is making a run in this Mustang when it is really running fast," said Neff.

"You remember and know in your mind that this is Indy. That qualifying run had more meaning than probably any other run since this was going to be the last night run and it was going to most likely set the field. The weather could really cool off for tomorrow but that is unlikely. You just want to make this one count. Plus when you are at Indy you just can't forget this is it, this is the big one. You want to make sure you bring your "A" game.

If these qualifying positions hold up it would be the first time John Force Racing has every qualified 1-2-3-4. The team's previous best qualifying performance was 1-2-3-5 in Brainerd in 2008.

In the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series ranks Brittany and Courtney Force also improved moving into the top sixteen with one more qualifying session tomorrow morning. Brittany and the Brandsource A Fuel dragster are currently10th and Courtney and her Sanyo Supercharged HD a Fuel dragster are currently 14th.

Their last qualifying session will be held tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. and the fourth nitro session will commence at 12:30 p.m.

-credit: jfr

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Mike Neff , Justin Schriefer , Courtney Force