Phoenix: John Force Racing final summary

HIGHT RUNNER-UP IN SECOND STRAIGHT EVENT; TAKES POWERADE LEAD Robert "Top Gun" Hight sped to the quickest quarter mile in NHRA Funny Car drag racing history (4.636 seconds) but had to settle for runner-up honors at the 23rd annual ...

HIGHT RUNNER-UP IN SECOND STRAIGHT EVENT; TAKES POWERADE LEAD

Robert "Top Gun" Hight sped to the quickest quarter mile in NHRA Funny Car drag racing history (4.636 seconds) but had to settle for runner-up honors at the 23rd annual Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Hight, the 2005 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year, was unable to overcome mechanical problems in the final and was beaten by Tony Pedregon. Nevertheless, the one-time mechanic on John Force's Castrol GTX Funny Car did manage to leave Arizona with the POWERade points lead.

"We had issues in the pits (between the semifinals and finals)," said the 2005 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year. "A spring came off the cross shaft and was hitting the clutch. So we had to go into the bellhousing and cut the ends of the spring off.

That was just the start of his problems, however.

"I was getting ready to stage and it showed 40 pounds of oil pressure and I' m like, 'oh, this isn't good.' But what're you gonna do? Then, when I did the burnout, there were sparks and I said to myself, 'I hope this thing doesn 't come apart.'

"When I hit the throttle, the thing turned sideways," Hight  explained.  "It
put four cylinders out on one side (of the motor) all at  once.  What
happened was that one of our switches malfunctioned and the  slide valve didn't
return any fuel back to the tank.  All the fuel was  going to the motor all at once."

After qualifying in the Top 8 for the first time, Ashley Force was victimized in round one when her Castrol GTX Ford made a hard move toward the centerline and ultimately crossed over, resulting in her automatic disqualification.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford  Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 13th at 4.818 seconds, 297.88 mph.

Race results: Lost to Ron Capps.

Notable: Extended qualifying streak to 394 consecutive events.

Quotable:  "I saw his nose, then he  disappeared, then he came back.  I
thought I won, but mine got all confused  down there at the end." -- JOHN FORCE.

ASHLEY FORCE, 24, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.730 seconds, 323.43 mph.

Race results: Lost to Bob Gilbertson.

Notable: Missed a shot at winning her first round when her car drifted across the center line against Bob Gilbertson, resulting in her automatic disqualification.

Quotable: "I felt really bad because my team gave me such a great race car and I really felt bad that I got over in Gilbertson's lane, because he and I are friends." -- ASHLEY FORCE.

ROBERT HIGHT, 37, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern  California Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.636 seconds, 327.74 mph.

Race results: Beat Jeff Arend, Eric Medlen, Ron Capps; lost to Tony Pedregon.

Notable: For the second straight race, posted the quickest time in Funny Car drag racing history and for the third straight season, moved to the top of the Funny Car driver standings.

Quotable: "When I  hit the throttle, the thing turned sideways.  It put four
cylinders out on  one side (of the motor) all at once.  What happened was that
one of our  switches malfunctioned and the slide valve didn't return any fuel
back to the  tank.  All the fuel was going to the motor all at once." --
ROBERT  HIGHT.

ERIC MEDLEN, 33, Auto Club of Southern California/Pleasant Holidays Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.740 seconds, 321.81 mph.

Race results: Beat Jack Beckman; lost to Robert Hight.

Notable: Won a round at each of the season's first two races, something he didn't do in 2006 when he got off to an 0-2 start.

Quotable: "We're working to adapt to a new clutch, the one that Robert's running, and we're excited about that. We had a flat tire against Robert in round two. That's not normal. But we'll test and we'll get it fixed before we go to Gainesville (for the SCDelco Gatornationals)." -- ERIC MEDLEN.

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Jeff Arend , Eric Medlen