ROBERT HIGHT AND AUTO CLUB FORD LEAD FIELD AT NORWALK -All for JFR Ford Mustangs in Show- (NORWALK, OH) --- Most NHRA veterans would not have predicted much chance of getting two qualifying sessions completed today at the 2nd annual Summit...
ROBERT HIGHT AND AUTO CLUB FORD LEAD FIELD AT NORWALK
-All for JFR Ford Mustangs in Show-
(NORWALK, OH) --- Most NHRA veterans would not have predicted much chance of getting two qualifying sessions completed today at the 2nd annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals. The skies looked ominous all day and considering track "weeping" derailed professional qualifying on Friday from beneath the ground the threat of rain had almost every driver keeping one eye on the sky all day.
After the first qualifying session there were mixed emotions as Robert Hight and John Force were solidly positioned to race on Sunday but teammates Ashley Force and Mike Neff were the only two cars on the outside of the qualifying order. Within an hour of the completion of the first round the skies unloaded on Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park and tension in the John Force Racing camp was ratcheted up.
As the skies cleared word began to circulate that two Funny Car competitors had been disqualified. This rumor was quickly confirmed as Gary Scelzi and Melanie Troxel were in fact disqualified when NHRA Tech Officials discovered loose ballast in their cars following their qualifying runs. According to page 74 of the NHRA Rule Book, "any material used for the purpose of racing must be permanently attached to the car's body or above the rear tires. No liquid or loose ballast permitted. Discovery of loose or disguised ballast will result in disqualification from the event, regardless of whether infraction occurs during qualifying or eliminations."
"Today we had a quick shower and at the time we weren't sure if we were in the show or out of the show. There were a lot of rumors flying around. I was glad to get that second run. I still don't think I have a really good handle on the track," said Ashley Force.
The move guaranteed Ashley Force and Mike Neff would be racing on Sunday the only question remaining was who they would be racing against.
During the second session Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang blasted down the Norwalk track with an impressive 4.882 second run at 309.77 mph to grab the No. 1 qualifying spot. Hight knew as soon as the car crossed half track it was on a positive run and his excitement was obvious but tempered as he addressed the media in the press room.
"I have mixed feelings about this No. 1 qualifier. It is hard to get fired up and excited after what happened last week. You ask yourself 'How you can celebrate?' There are other teams out here that don't have anything to celebrate. You also feel greedy. That was the first run my Auto Club Ford Mustang has made that felt really good all the way to the finish line. It didn't drop any cylinders and ran really clean. The motor looked perfect," said Hight.
While Hight was racing to the top of the field Ashley Force and the Castrol GTX team made a solid run positioning her squarely in the middle of the field and setting up a first round match-up with longtime family friend Gary Densham.
Rookie of the Year favorite Mike Neff and the Old Spice team had their hands full today and wound up in the unenviable position of having to race teammate Robert Hight in the first round. Neff got a little out of the groove on his first run and had to lift on a solid pass. In the last session his BOSS 500 powered Ford Mustang surprised him with an uncharacteristic move that left him in the 16th qualifying position.
"It has been a weird weekend. We lost yesterday which was a drag. We only got two shots today and on the first run we were going pretty good but it put a cylinder and it got out of the groove. I tried to pull it back but it didn't feel like it was moving. I had to lift so it wouldn't cross the center line. The second run was just uncharacteristic. We got fast in a weird place on the track. We hadn't had trouble at that point on the track ever," said Neff "It will be a drag having to race Robert in the first round. The only positive is at least one of the John Force Ford Mustangs will go on to the second round. Robert is a tough customer."
Team leader John Force did not improve on his early morning run of 4.988 seconds and finds himself in the bottom half of the field (10th). He will race veteran Del Worsham in the first round.