JFR Opens 2011 Testing Session with Strong Performances
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (February 4, 2011) --- John Force Racing opened the 2011 testing session at Palm Beach International Raceway with a strong showing during the Inaugural PRO Winter Warm-Up event. JFR posted the second quickest times of both Winter Warm-Up sessions. Reigning Full Throttle Funny Car champion John Force ran 4.072 seconds at 310 .20 mph in the first session against Melanie Troxel. Matt Hagan was the quickest of the first session, 4.051 seconds at 311.70 mph, setting up a Force vs. Hagan showdown to wrap up the evening.
Force outdistanced Hagan in the last session recording another "oh" with an elapsed time of 4.086 seconds at a top speed of the day 312.50 mph. Hagan smoked the tires at the hit. Force trailed 2008 NHRA Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon (4.040 seconds, 310.48 mph) and teammate Robert Hight, 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion, (4.063 seconds, 311.27 mph) for low ET honors of the second session.
"You have to hand it to Cruz Pedregon with that last run. I am excited to be out here. Hagan ran big today and (Ron) Capps with (John) Medlen as well as (Jack) Beckman all ran strong," said the 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion. "Robert ran a big number with a brand new chassis. It is great to have (daughter) Courtney (Force) here to learn the ropes and start getting here used to the Funny Car. I can't believe I am back in West Palm Beach in my Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang. I was here 28 years ago with Austin Coil and it is great to be back here. The fans have been great."
Prior to the official start of the PRO Winter Warm-Up event teams tested throughout the day. During one of those sessions Robert Hight and his Auto Club team noticed a problem with the chassis they were running. The decision was made to switch to the brand new back up car in an effort to give the fans who paid to see the PRO Winter Warm-UP action a good show. Hight missed the first session but came out strong in the final stanza posting a 4.063 second pass at 311.27 mph in a completely new race car.
"That run felt so good. That was a brand new car. I have never driven a brand new car to the finish line under power like that," said Hight an 18-time NHRA national event winner. "That just shows you how much confidence I have in my team. That Mustang was just going and I could have driven all the way to Gainesville it was so smooth. We completely switched cars today. These guys thrashed all afternoon to get this new Auto Club Mustang ready for the last night session. It was really marching out there and it sounded great. We had a tough day mechanically but the results weren't that bad."
Driver and crew chief Mike Neff took full advantage of the first day of testing rolling out a couple of different combinations for his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. It has been nearly fifteen months since Neff has made consistent passes in an 8,000 hp Funny Car and he shook the rust off early. While the scoreboard results did not set the world on fire Neff was pleased to know what wasn't working.
"It was fun to be back in a funny car," said Neff, the 2009 Auto Club Finals winner. "We haven't really made a good run yet. We were testing a couple of things today and they didn't work out for us. We will move back closer to what we ran last year and try again tomorrow. That is what testing is for. We'll have a better day tomorrow. Today was just a test day and you need days like this to keep you pointed in the right direction."
The second day of the PRO Winter Warm-Up will get underway at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday with gates opening at Palm Beach International Raceway at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate.