Joliet: John Force Racing Saturday notes

JFR MUSTANGS IMPROVE READY TO WIN IN CHI-TOWN JOLIET, IL --- On a day where conditions would be considered ideal John Force Racing continued to make improvements and assert themselves as the Funny Cars to watch during the 12th annual United ...


JOLIET, IL --- On a day where conditions would be considered ideal John Force Racing continued to make improvements and assert themselves as the Funny Cars to watch during the 12th annual United Association NHRA Rt. 66 Nationals tomorrow. From top to bottom the four Mustangs of John Force Racing all showed performance dominance and a competitive grit that has been elusive for the championship caliber organization.

A one-two punch led by 2008 Rookie of the Year Mike Neff in his John Medlen tuned Ford Drive One Mustang along with 2005 Rookie of the Year Ashley Force Hood and her Dean Antonelli-Ron Douglas tuned Castrol GTX Mustang showed the collective Funny Cars at Rt. 66 Raceway they had two of the best cars on the property. Neff's Mustang was the most consistent the past two days and with the exception of one run this morning Force Hood was not too far off the pace.

"We have a lot of confidence because the more times you go up and down the track the more you learn especially when the conditions are changing. We made some good runs when the track was warm and we made some good runs when the track was cool. It is nice to have a set-up where you feel that no matter what the conditions are you are ready," said Neff the four-time finalist. "I am thrilled to death. John Medlen and my team are doing a great job. It feels good to qualify up in the top three and it definitely helps the confidence going into tomorrow."

Force Hood was equally as confident in her chances and how well her Castrol GTX Mustang is running.

"I don't think (co-crew chiefs) Ron (Douglas) and Guido (Dean Antonelli) were pushing it or trying to do anything crazy. We really just wanted to get some laps under our belt. Sometimes you push it too much and it doesn't make it and then you have lost that run. I am always hoping for that number one. Especially since (Ron) Capps was on the bump. It would be great to be able to run him the first round and beat him obviously. We were No. 2 which is a great run and we are happy with it," said Force Hood.

"It almost didn't make it. I was pointed a little bit outside and when I launched it went out. It started to rattle and I got it back where it needed to be. We are really lucky this Mustang is really forgiving. It will let you make little mistakes. We are fortunate that I am able to feel it and the crew chiefs are able to see it. We were lucky that it made a good run and that was good for us. It may not be number one but it could have been not a run at all. We would have been whatever spot we were at lower in the pack. We'll take No. 2 and we have Jack Beckman. That is a really tough team."

Team leader John Force was thrilled with how his entire organization has bounced back from a tough start to the 2009 Full Throttle season. He will have a tough first round race when he pulls up beside Jeff Arend with an impressive 8-0 record.

"I've fought with my guys off and on this season but last week I apologized to all of them for the way I have been acting. I tend to get kind of panicked. They really dug into their hot rods and they are finding stuff from body tin to chassis flex to clutches everything you can imagine. They are the best and I count on them," said the winningest driver in NHRA history.

"We've won 15 championships and it wasn't all me trust me. We are going to go out there tomorrow and do the best that we can. I am really excited Robert's Auto Club Mustang stepped up. Brittany's BrandSource A Fueler was right there and almost made the show. Courtney got in at No. 8 in Top Alcohol Dragster. Neff's car is flying. Ashley is flying and my old hot rod ain't too shabby. For Ford, Castrol, the Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools, Sanyo, Nordic Boat, the DiPinto Brothers and everybody God bless them all."

Possibly the best news of the weekend however was the progress that Robert Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock have made with their Auto Club Ford Mustang. With nearly every run they got from point A to point B. In the night session last night they were bitten by some bad luck but when it counted in the last qualifying session they brought their "A" game to Rt. 66 Raceway.

"Last night on the night run that is what we thought it might run. It looked like it should have run that. It closed the gap on a spark plug and then it dropped a cylinder. That wasn't a tune up issue. It wasn't anything but just bad luck. Had we run that 4.14 last night we would have been in a lot better shape both runs today so we started behind again," said Hight.

"I was really paying attention to who was qualified and who could bump us back and who couldn't when I was in the lanes. When it came our turn to run I knew we could not get bumped out and lots of our guys we trying to tell Jimmy to go for low ET. I spoke up and said no. I said we need to go down the race track. If we mess up tonight we are dead. We would go into first round still hunting. If we make a respectable run it will give Jimmy something to tune for first round. I don't care who we are racing or anything else. It has got to start going down the race track. It was a nice run. It wasn't a barnburner but Jimmy can look at that run and see where he can tweek it. We need to tweet and not hunt."

"Trust me I am ecstatic about going down the track. The next thing after this is we need to go to the next race no matter what happens tomorrow with the same parts. We can't go and hunt next week for something else that is going to maybe make us better. We need to work out what we have. I home that come Indy we have the same parts on this Mustang and we have just refined this combination. We don't need to be searching and hunting and testing every week. We have to refine this just like Guido has done with Ashley's Mustang."

Tomorrow will be a busy day for John Force Racing with four Funny Cars in competition and at least one Top Alcohol Dragster. Courtney Force's Sanyo Supercharged HD/BrandSource dragster is solidly in the show at No. 7 and there is a chance that Brittany Force and her BrandSource dragster could move into the show from the No. 17 spot if a car cannot make the call tomorrow morning.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight , John Medlen , Mike Neff , Courtney Force , Brittany Force