Las Vegas: John Force Racing Saturday report

FORCE HOOD LEADS JFR INTO LAS VEGAS ELIMS, HIGHT FACES FORCE LAS VEGAS --- The hot desert melted away the chances of John Force Racing improving its qualifying positions at the 11th annual NHRA Nationals. Unfortunately their...


LAS VEGAS --- The hot desert melted away the chances of John Force Racing improving its qualifying positions at the 11th annual NHRA Nationals. Unfortunately their odds deteriorated greatly when Del Worsham raced to the top of the Funny Car category at the end of the second session today. Worsham's success combined with a lack of improvement by the three JFR Ford Mustangs meant that Ashley Force Hood will enter the sixth race of the season from the No. 2 qualifying position and she will be followed by Robert Hight (No. 6) and John Force (No. 11).

In the first round Force Hood will square off with two time Full Throttle Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon. While Pedregon may have struggled he is still a formidable foe and one that Force Hood does not take lightly. In her career the 2009 championship runner-up is 3-4 versus Pedregon having won the last two meetings.

"I think if we can go some rounds tomorrow that will be a good boost for us. You combine that with the fact that we picked up some points in qualifying which was a good way to start the weekend. It seems like everybody is a little off this weekend. We will try and take advantage of that. We seem to have a good hold on our tune up and maybe we can take advantage of that situation. It is not very often that the funny car field is as mixed up as it is today," said Force Hood.

Force Hood's Castrol GTX Mustang made laps today with the new Goodyear tire that is being mandated by the NHRA. The team will switch back to the Goodyear tire that had them on top of the provisional pole at the end of Friday's qualifying.

"(The new Goodyear tires) didn't feel any different. They obviously affected our runs. We learned something from the first run today and got down the track in the second run. Tomorrow we go back to our old tires, the olds we ran on Friday, when we ran really good. I feel pretty good about tomorrow. I think it will be tricky and parts of me think there will be a lot of pedal fests tomorrow. I would rather have A to B runs like we did the first day of qualifying," said Force Hood.

In the marquee match-up of the first round 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight will have to race teammate, current points leader and 14-time champion John Force. Hight is one of a handful of drivers that has a career winning record over the legendary driver, posting a 10-8 record with four wins in their last five meetings. It will not be a positive experience for the drivers as Hight felt they both let an opportunity slip past them today.

"It is our own fault we get John in the first round. We had a mistake tonight on our car and it was slow. Honestly he should have stepped up too. We should have both run way better than we did. We brought it on ourselves. When you qualify that low, that is my worst of the year and John's I think. When you are that low that is what you get. Even meeting in the second round is too early to race a teammate. It is our fault for not being 1-2-3 or at least in the top five. Tomorrow we need to turn this Auto Club Ford around," said Hight.

"(Auto Club of Southern California CEO) Tom McKernan told me a great story earlier today. He was telling me a funny line from the movie Smokey and the Bandit when Jackie Gleason who played the iconic Sheriff Buford T. Justice said 'I didn't come all this way to go home with empty pockets.' That really applies to what we do. We need to go home with full pockets. We have to do whatever it takes to get that done."

It was also a disappointing day for the youngest Force racers as both Courtney Force and Brittany Force were bounced in the first round of Top Alcohol Dragster eliminations. No. 11 qualifier Courtney and the BrandSource/Ford Racing A Fueler fell to Shawn Cowie. Brittany behind the wheel of her BrandSource A Fueler managed to qualify No. 15 in her lone qualifying run today lost to Joey Severance as the sun set.

For the young Forces their busy academic schedules have them trying to take as much advantage of their limited track time as possible. Courtney Force knows she needs to bring her best driving effort to the starting line every time she runs since her team has not had the advantage of running multiple events.

"It is just a little different when you have been out of the seat for a while. Once you get that first pass out of the way everything comes back to you. It is just hard to get the tune up right for the track and the weather. For me as a driver I was doing my best to keep the same routine. I had pretty consistent lights this weekend. My lights could be better but I did get a little reaction time advantage in the first round. The car was just a little sluggish this weekend. Hopefully next time we can get it running a little better," said Force.

The youngest driving Force has picked up many driving tips from her father and sisters but one Force trademark has just happened on its own.

"I think I am turning into my dad. It is great to be back in my fire suit. I am going up to the starting line to watch Brittany and Ashley in my fire suit. It is fun to watch all the different categories. I sort of have to stay in a fire suit to be ready and to be able to watch all my family. I don't think I am as bad as him. I think being in this Las Vegas weather with the desert heat you have to get used to it. You don't want to go from cold temperatures of your lounge to hot temperatures out here and walking around in my fire suit kind of helps."

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Courtney Force , Brittany Force