Las Vegas: John Force Racing final report

HIGHT'S SEMI-FINAL FINISH LONE BRIGHT SPOT IN VEGAS FOR JFR LAS VEGAS --- Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team were racing against history today at the 10th annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Throughout Hight's relatively young...

HIGHT'S SEMI-FINAL FINISH LONE BRIGHT SPOT IN VEGAS FOR JFR

LAS VEGAS --- Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team were racing against history today at the 10th annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Throughout Hight's relatively young career he has won at least one race by the conclusion of the fifth race of the season. As the No. 2 qualifier he was positioned to grab his first win of 2009 but that bid for victory ended in the semi-finals versus eventual winner Ron Capps. Even though Hight did not reach the winner's circle he is optimistic about his chances heading to Atlanta.

"Today was a lot better than the last two races. I am upbeat about our Auto Club of Southern California Mustang because it is definitely tunable. We just need a few more runs and I think we are there. Yesterday in qualifying we made two good runs. We stepped up. We have all the old stuff back on it. We have a new chassis. It is working well," said the former JFR crewman. "I am definitely excited about that. We are going to test here tomorrow and use one of our four days. We'll see if we can't get it to where we want it. This is a great race track and they do a good job. I'm looking forward to testing."

Hight's path to the semi-finals included a second round match-up with team leader John Force. They had met ten times previously with a 5-5 record and Hight took his career mark versus the 14-time champion to 6-5 with his third consecutive round win over Force. In the first round Hight had a minor incident that Hight's crew chief Jimmy Prock was able to work around by round two.

"The first round we had a nozzle stick so it didn't open. It burnt number five up real early in the run then it dropped a cylinder and then it pushed the head gaskets out. It was a mess," said Hight. "That was a lucky one. Second round it was just kind of slow against John. Jimmy tried to tune it up and it really didn't change it early. It was still slow early. When the clutch came together it spun."

Mike Neff could have been Hight's opponent in the semis but he dropped his second round race to Capps when his Ford Drive One Mustang slowed from a first round, session quickest 4.117 seconds, to a domestic 4.222 seconds.

"We ran pretty well this weekend. We qualified number three and then ran the low ET of the first round today. We should have won the second round. That was just disappointing. We are still working some things out. We are going to test tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get four runs and be really set up for Atlanta."

Heading into eliminations the Force Fords were positioned to advance cars on both sides of the ladder but Ashley Force Hood the lone representative on one half of the ladder was ousted by Jack Beckman during the quickest side by side race of the day. Force Hood ran 4.164 to Beckman's 4.156 seconds her time would have won a number of the other first round races.

Coming off her win in Houston Force Hood is looking forward to getting back to the track in Atlanta site of her first career win in 2008. She knows that with a first round loss behind here she needs to just focus on the task at hand.

"We had a team meeting this afternoon and I told our team that we never get any luck. Not even a glimmer of luck. We have a really good car but every close race we are on the losing side. We have lost races that I would want to make the run we made since it would have won any other time or other part of the ladder. You think one of these days we will get some luck," said Force Hood. "We just decided we will have to win this championship with skill and not even think about luck. We don't need it with the team that we have. I know (co-crew chiefs) Guido (Dean Antonelli) and Ron (Douglas) think they should do stuff differently on the car sometimes in hindsight but my guys and I look at some of our runs and know that they were good runs, solid runs it would have beaten anyone else out there we just happened to be racing the one guy that could beat us."

John Force continued to improve in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang and a mechanical failure with his manifold burst panels ended his day against Hight. Crew chief Austin Coil said that they replaced a number of panels after his first round win over Tim Wilkerson but in the second round they are not sure why the burst panels let loose dropping the available horsepower at half track and slowing Force abruptly.

***

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.149 seconds, at 300.00 mph

Race results: Beat Tim Wilkerson. Lost to Robert Hight.

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.139 seconds, at 303.23 mph

Race results: Lost to Jack Beckman.

Quotable: "This just wasn't our weekend. Hopefully we can get back on a roll. We won't let it get us down. Last weekend is in the past and we have to focus on the race in front of us. We'll go into Atlanta under the radar and hopefully come out on top again."

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, AAA of Texas Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.115 seconds, at 305.15 mph

Race results: Beat Jeff Arend, John Force. Lost to Ron Capps.

Quotable: "Today was a lot better than the last two races. I am upbeat about our Auto Club Ford Mustang because it is definitely tunable. We just need a few more runs and I think we are there. Yesterday in qualifying we made two good runs. We stepped up. We have all the old stuff back on it. We have a new chassis. It is working well. I am definitely excited about that."

MIKE NEFF, 41, Ford Drive One/Auto Club Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.125 seconds, at 304.46 mph

Race results: Beat Gary Densham. Lost to Ron Capps.

Quotable: "We ran pretty well this weekend. We qualified number three and then ran the low ET of the first round today. We should have won the second round. That was just disappointing. We are still working some things out. We are going to test tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get four runs and be really set up for Atlanta."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , Mike Neff