John Force Racing press release
JFR FACES TOUGH MATCH-UPS AT MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN --- Cooler temperatures greeted the fans and racers today at the 57th annual Mac Tools US Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The John Force Racing Ford Mustangs took advantage of the improved conditions to ramp up their elapsed times across the board. Unfortunately, the improvements were consistent between the three Ford Mustangs and JFR will go into race day qualified No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9.
John Force made the biggest performance jump running 4.097 seconds in the final session he maintained his No. 7 position however. Force who switched yesterday from his 15X championship Ford Mustang body to his traditional Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang body smoked the tires in the first session today but bounced back with authority to close out the day.
“I am excited because (co-crew chiefs) Ron Douglas and Dean Antonelli have taken a car that has struggled and gotten it into the top half,” said Force a four-time Mac Tools US Nationals winner. “That was really exciting. It is a shame that the Fords are all running against each other. We all have good cars and at least two cars will be going to the second round. That ain’t bad odds at Indy.”
Force will have to race fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III in the first round. They have a 1-1 record in first round match-ups and Force holds a slim edge overall at 6-5.
Consistency was also the key word for Robert Hight and Mike Neff today. In the first session Hight posted a 4.135 second time and his Jimmy Prock tuned Auto Club Ford Mustang closed out the day with a 4.098 second run at 312.06 mph. Hight was encouraged by the steady improvement. His history at the Mac Tools US Nationals has been feast or famine.
“I am excited especially after the two runs we made today. Jimmy has really been working hard trying to get the Auto Club Mustang back to be able to tune it from run to run. We ran a 4.13 this morning and it was just smooth,” said Hight, the Mac Tools US Nationals champion in 2006 and 2008. “That is what I liked is it was smooth. He tuned on it a little bit and it picked up four hundredths. He honestly believes we could pick up four hundredths and that gets us back to how we ran at Bristol. If we can make the thing run a little through the middle Jimmy believes there is another speed record out there.”
Unfortunately Hight will have to race teammate Mike Neff in the first round. Hight was the No. 8 qualifier and Neff finished the day at No. 9. Neff had steadily improved his qualifying times in the previous four qualifying session going into the final session on Sunday.
In Friday’s lone qualifying session Neff ran 4.747 seconds then stepped up to 4.343 seconds and then 4.182 seconds on Saturday. Today in the first session his time of 4.118 seconds was third quickest of the session and earned him a qualifying bonus point.
Going into the final session Neff knew conditions would be ripe for improvement but his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang slowed to 4.130 seconds much to the disgust of the driver and tuner.
“I’m pissed. I should have run better in that last session. This is the big one and I want to be at the top of my game. I want to be at my best. The conditions are great and we didn’t run as quick as I wanted to. I am not happy about having to race Robert in the first round. At least one of us will get to the second round,” said Neff, the No. 1 qualifier for the Countdown to One.
The bright spot for Neff is he locked up the No. 1 spot in the Countdown simply by qualifying. Team leader and 2010 No. 1 Countdown qualifier and Full Throttle Funny Car champion John Force immediately praised Neff’s efforts in the regular season.
“I am really proud of him. He is working really hard. He has earned that right and Robert is right behind him,” said Force.
Hight and Neff have raced each other three times in 2011. In two of those encounters the winner went on to win the race. In both cases, Topeka (final) and Bristol (second round), the victor was Hight.
Before the final day of qualifying began Force unveiled his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE/Honoring Our Heroes specialty Funny Car that he will run at the first race of the Countdown in Charlotte in two weeks. The special Ford Mustang is a tribute to the brave men and women who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 and proceeds from the sale of the die-cast will benefit the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
“It has been ten years since those terrible attacks in New York City, Washington DC, and in Pennsylvania. I try to thank as many firefighters, policemen and members of our armed forces every chance I get,” said Force. “To be able to unveil and then race this unbelievable Funny Car is a real honor for me and my whole organization. I want to thank LionelNASCAR and the Honoring Our Heroes group for giving me this chance to say thank you and to recognize these real American Heroes.
“We wanted to get the word out about this Funny Car at our biggest race, the Mac Tools US Nationals because this is a really important opportunity to promote a great organization,” added Force. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 2001 by the family of Stephen Siller – an FDNY firefighter. Siller was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got the call about the attack on the World Trade Center. When he couldn’t drive his truck through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Siller donned nearly 70 pounds of firefighting gear and ran through the tunnel to the towers to help rescue his fellow Americans. Siller lost his life as a result of his heroic actions. Prior to the final eliminations tomorrow the NHRA will have a special 9/11 10th anniversary ceremony recognizing first responders.