John Force Racing press release
JFR READY TO ATTACK COUNTDOWN AT CHARLOTTE
CONCORD, NC --- John Force and his Honoring Our Heroes Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang raced into the field at the 4th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals today. In the first session of the day Force posted a 4.098 second pass, third quickest of the session, and will go into eliminations as the No. 11 qualifier. In the final session Force’s Antonelli and Douglas tuned Mustang tripped the lights in 4.100 seconds giving the crew chief tandem back to back runs to runs to tune from for eliminations tomorrow morning.
“(Teammates Mike) Neff and Robert (Hight) ran good in their Fords and I am a Ford guy too. I am pretty excited because Bruton Smith built this beautiful facility, the Bellagio they call it, and when you can come out here and run like (No. 1 qualifier Matt) Hagan, a 3.99, that is all about having a great race track,” said Force. “We want to put on a great show for the fans. I am excited. I am sitting here watching Neff and (Bob) Tasca and I want to see if Hagan can get that record. This is real drag racing.”
Force will race Don Schumacher Racing’s Johnny Gray in the first round. These veteran drivers have met fourteen times with Force holding a 10-4 edge and a 6-0 record in first round meetings. Force will have extra motivation to succeed as a number of first responders from NYC and the 9/11 tragedy will be on hand to support his Honoring Our Heroes Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang in eliminations.
“We struggled on Friday in qualifying and I would roll past the firefighters at the top end and I would feel kind of bad because I feel like I am representing them and all the firefighters and police officers with this Mustang. I wanted to get this hot rod in the show so bad and my guys came through for me. I am proud to be promoting the Stephen Siller Foundation and I want to thank Lionel/NASCAR Collectibles for stepping up and supporting this cause. I am going to try and make them proud.”
The top JFR Mustang drivers from Friday, Mike Neff and Robert Hight, spent the day pressing their Mustangs on the all-concrete racing surface with mixed results. Neither driver improved their position but both still have lane choice tomorrow.
Neff qualified No. 2 based on his excellent 4.038 second run and he will square off with Tony Pedregon. Neff’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang is 4-0 versus Pedregon in first round match-ups this season.
“We missed it a little today. That last run I am not sure what happened because I haven’t had a chance to look at the data. It is tough to wait at the end of the day,” said Neff, who had to sit through an oil down clean-up from Melanie Troxel. “You want to get a good run going into Sunday but none of the last four Funny Cars got down the track. I’ve got a good handle on this Castrol GTX Mustang so we’ll be ready tomorrow. I had a big lead and now with the new points I have to rebuild that lead.” The last JFR match-up of the first round will feature 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight against 2008 Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon. Hight, the No. 8 qualifier will have lane choice. Pedregon raced into the show in the last session and Hight’s Jimmy Prock tuned Auto Club Ford Mustang spent the day fine tuning a competitive set-up for race day. Hight will need his A game considering he has a 1-3 record in 2011 against Pedregon. Hight does hold a winning record for his career, 11-8.
“We were trying to push the envelope today and we just missed it. Jimmy can tune this Mustang back and we’ll be OK on Sunday. We’ll be racing Cruz Pedregon in the first round and that is big. He is a tough competitor and another Countdown car,” said Hight. “You can’t have a lot of first round losses and expect to get this Full Throttle championship. I am going to get some rest tonight and be ready for the fight. John gave the team a pep talk on Friday and we talked about getting bonus points and round wins. I did not get any bonus points this weekend but I am going to try and get four round wins tomorrow.” “In 2009 I won here and that kick started my championship. I want to get some momentum tomorrow and go into Dallas on a winning streak. The first step is getting that first round win tomorrow. It won’t be easy but I have a lot of confidence in Jimmy and my Auto Club team.”