Countdown to the Countdown, No Excuses BROWNSBURG, IND (August 6, 2009) --- On Wednesday 14-time Funny Car champion John Force spent the day at his Brownsburg, Ind., racing complex filming segments with motorsports journalist Dave Despain for an...
Countdown to the Countdown, No Excuses
BROWNSBURG, IND (August 6, 2009) --- On Wednesday 14-time Funny Car champion John Force spent the day at his Brownsburg, Ind., racing complex filming segments with motorsports journalist Dave Despain for an upcoming episode of Wind Tunnel on SPEED TV. Following the all-day filming session that included interviews with Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert Hight and crew Chief John Medlen, Force sat down to talk about the final three races before the NHRA Countdown to One as well as his strategy for positioning his teams to race for the NHRA Full Throttle funny car championship.
"The Western Swing didn't go as we had planned for my four Mustang teams. Even though my youngest daughter Courtney won Seattle in the Sanyo A/Fuel Dragster beating her sister Brittany and the Brandsource A/Fueler in the semi-finals, that didn't help improve the position of my four funny cars in the Countdown. I'm not making any excuses. The next three races will be all about strategy. There are hitters like Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan and a few others that are shooting for those last spots so somebody is going to be left behind. We don't want it to be us," said Force.
"The performance of our four Mustangs appeared to be getting better in Sonoma but we still don't have the consistency. Robert and I went to Norwalk and came away with the win against Cruz in the final. You can't base a lot of performance improvement off that. The next Monday we called all the crew chiefs and drivers into our John Force Racing complex in Brownsburg. I wanted answers and solutions. I have always believed in my brain trust because they have delivered fifteen championships."
"The only car that is holding its own is Ashley's Castrol GTX Mustang tuned by Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas. That car has performed like a Swiss watch. My other three Mustangs: Auto Club, Ford Drive One, and Castrol GTX High Mileage are struggling. What has been hard to understand is how Mike Neff in his second year, Robert Hight in his fifth year and me a veteran with 14 championships are behind a team that has the least amount of experience. Robert should be my lead car. I said it at the beginning of the season he is my best all around driver. Ashley has already locked herself into the Countdown. She has led the points, been in a number of finals and has even won this year, yet my other three Mustangs can't seem to produce."
"After hours of meetings and listening to the sincerity of my guys I asked for options. I considered moving drivers around, moving crew chiefs around, and changing combinations. In the end I listened to the brain trust. Their vote was to stick with what we have. They convinced me we are about to turn the corner. I told them they have three races left until the Countdown and if we don't turn the performance around then change has to come. In fact Robert Hight and Jimmy Prock will be testing this Monday at O'Reilly Raceway Park to get their Mustang ready to go. I don't intend on losing any of my crew chiefs because they got me here."
"In addition to listening to my brain trust, we evaluated how we got to this point. I had my marketing team make a matrix of every elimination round this season and we examined what happened. I wanted to see if we were losing because we missed tune ups, driver error, not having lane choice or just bad race luck. I couldn't believe how many races we lost to a race car that was the quickest of that particular round. It showed me that we weren't as far off as I thought."
"We won a championship in 2006. We lost Eric in 2007 and I know my crash put me out of contention that year too. Since then we have had a year and a half to try and put our program back together. We are very excited to have our first in-house chassis to come out of The Eric Medlen Project that has the changes from the engineers at Ford Racing. We will unveil this chassis around the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. There was a lot thrown at us in the last two years but like I have said, no excuses. The sponsors in this economy need all the exposure they can get. We can't give them that exposure without winning rounds."
"For the next three races we are going to focus even harder. I told my people we don't want any distractions. We are going to do what it takes. I challenged my crew chiefs to show me improvement. Actions speak louder than words. Right now we need action."