John Force Racing press release
TIGHT COUNTDOWN BATTLE AWAITS JFR IN POMONA
LAS VEGAS, NV --- On Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Mike Neff and Robert Hight stumbled in their Full Throttle Funny Car championship pursuit dropping their respective first round match-ups. They did not however throw in the towel on their championship aspirations. The other three drivers in the championship battle did not capitalize on an opportunity to extend their respective leads. Both drivers took solace in the fact that their boss and team leader, John Force, overcame overwhelming odds last year to win his unprecedented 15th Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
Hight will have the toughest battle in Pomona trying to track down four drivers and overcoming a 71 point deficit. For Neff the point deficit is much more manageable only 34 points or less than two rounds. This is the same size deficit Neff overcame when he tuned Force to the championship.
“That was a tough loss. I am not going to let one round loss ruin my season. We have won five races this season and we are still in this championship chase,” said Neff, the season-long points leader. “No one here is hanging their heads. John (Force) just had a team meeting telling us he was proud of everyone in the organization and I believe that. We made all the right calls.”
“Our Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran great all weekend and that is what you want to take away. We aren’t looking for problems. I know what I need to do. Sure we will need some help these next couple of rounds,” added Neff after the first round exit. “The good news is the guys in front of us are all on the same side of the ladder.”
“We got some help from some of the guys behind us and we have a manageable deficit. We will be ready for Pomona and that will be an exciting race,” concluded Neff.
For Hight Las Vegas continued to be a track that could be feast or famine for the former crewman. In 2008 Hight broke on the burnout in the first round extinguishing his championship hopes. In 2009 a win at the 9th annual Big O Tires Nationals essentially wrapped up his first Full Throttle Championship.
This weekend Hight felt that his Auto Club Ford Mustang was primed and ready to go rounds today. That was not the case as he was outrun by Tony Pedregon in the first round.
“That really took me by surprise. We have been running pretty well. It hasn’t been shaking but I guess the gremlin is back,” said a frustrated Hight at the top end. “All I can say is it ain’t over until it is over. You look at the Cardinals the other night and you see how they played in that game 6. They never gave up and they never quit digging. All I can say is I hope my Ford teammates do their job today. Good luck guys.”
John Force continued to struggle against Jack Beckman losing for the seventh time in a row to the former drag racing instructor. In today’s match-up Force was running with Beckman until his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang shook the tires and made a sharp move towards the centerline at about 700 feet.
As soon as the teams were back in the pits Force immediately pulled all his drivers, crew chiefs, and crew members into the Castrol Technology Center to make sure they were focused on the task at hand.
“I told my guys I had to overcome a big point lead last year. We did it and we won the championship. Mike and Robert are still in this until they tell me we can’t get any more points. We win together and we lose together,” said the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“All our sponsors, Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Mac Tools and BrandSource are sticking with us. This thing is not over. We are proud of the wins we have had this season and we are going to try and get one more win in Pomona and get another championship. Robert and Mike have won five races each so far and they ran great this weekend. I am going to test tomorrow because I am not going to just give up. I am planning on helping Neff or Robert win this championship.”
The final race of the season, the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Nationals will be contested in two weeks. JFR has won that race thirteen times including last year’s win by Force.