Las Vegas II: John Force Racing Friday report

FORCE HOOD AND FORCE CASH IN FRIDAY AT LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS, NV -- John Force gave an impassioned speech to his three teams Friday morning before the crowds poured into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The theme of the speech was all three...


LAS VEGAS, NV -- John Force gave an impassioned speech to his three teams Friday morning before the crowds poured into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The theme of the speech was all three of his teams needed to swing for the fences and go after every qualifying bonus point possible for the rest of the season starting today.

After two rounds of qualifying Ashley Force Hood and her specialty themed Queen of Hearts Castrol GTX Ford Mustang were the provisional No. 1 qualifier and owners of four bonus points. Force Hood edged out her father and 14-time champion for the top spot and relegated him to No. 2 spot just ahead of points leader Matt Hagan. It was a solid effort for Force Hood as she and her team reaped the benefits of having most of the attention focused on the teams at the top of the points sheet.

"We're approaching each round just trying to run the best possible time we can run. We're not thinking about records or other people in the field. We're not letting ourselves think like that. We're just going to take each run as it goes," said Force Hood.

"It's fun to do the night session and get a good run. The little points matter, but the rounds are really going to matter. We would love to get two more good runs tomorrow because conditions will be more like what we'll see on Sunday."

Force Hood's first run of the day earned her team one bonus point and her last run, a career quickest at 1,000 feet 4.032 seconds, pushed another three her way. The four points she earned moved her within striking distance of Jack Beckman who is now just 41 points ahead of her. If she can pick up two points on Beckman tomorrow and get Beckman's lead under 40 points it would be equivalent to cutting a round off his lead on here.

"Running really well is great. The fact that we got some bonus points was even better. You have to look towards Sunday. The little points in qualifying matter a lot but they don't matter as much as round wins. When you can make good passes in the day time and at night it shows that my crew chiefs have a good handle on this Mustang. That is especially key when you have a new body on your racecar. It is just a huge sigh of relief for us because you just don't know will it run the same or will it run different. Now we have a good hold of it. Hopefully we can continue to run well tomorrow."

The Queen of Hearts Castrol Ford Mustang Force Hood is racing this weekend has drawn a lot of positive feedback from the fans and her team.

"Everyone seems to be really excited. It is neat to be here in Vegas since it is a perfect theme for this weekend. It is always great when you do a special body and you can run good. You hate to put all that work in to design and decal and then not have it run as well as you want. You never want that. It is exciting to have that little bit of magic that maybe it is the body especially when it is a body that has all your teammates faces on it," said Force Hood.

While Force Hood is making up ground herself team leader John Force is also focused on reeling in young Matt Hagan who moved around him into the points lead in Reading, Pennsylvania. Force picked up one point on Hagan in qualifying but the 14-time champion is focused on the big picture and not the pressure of the situation.

"Pressure is what you are supposed to feel. If you are not in it mentally and the gut ached ain't there then maybe you just don't care. At the end of the day I am saying we have to outrun this guy (Matt Hagan). We can't wait for him to fail. We have two good cars right now that went down safe. Ashley ran a 4.03 and I ran a 4.05. Robert will get in there. I feel better than I did this morning," said Force.

A John Force Racing team member that has a unique position and level of experience is Force Hood co-crew chief Dean "Guido" Antonelli who was a long time crewman for Force and now calls the tuning shots along with Ron Douglas on the Castrol GTX Mustang.

"Job one is for John Force Racing to win. John Force has the best chance of winning the championship so he is the car we need to perform the best. Robert (Hight) and Ashley's cars both need to run as well as John's Mustang because we need to be able to take out the competition. That is the only way for him to win. If John and Hagan go to the finals the next two races even if John wins he still won't get the championship. We need to be able to run as good as John to take Hagan out. That is out goal and at the same time we have a long shot to get our own championship too," said Antonelli.

The Auto Club Mustang piloted by Robert Hight struggled on Friday smoking the tires in each session. It recorded the 15th quickest run on Friday. Hight will have two shots tomorrow to race his Mustang into the show. The list of non-qualifier Funny Car will make it interesting on Saturday as at least eight teams will be vying for spots in the top sixteen including Hight, Tim Wilkerson, Del Worsham, and Tony Pedregon.

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan