FORCE LEADS WAY FOR JFR AT ARIZONA NATIONALS PHOENIX --- Winternationals winner John Force led the way for the trio of John Force Racing Mustangs at the NHRA Arizona Nationals today. Force finished the first day of qualifying in the no. 2...
FORCE LEADS WAY FOR JFR AT ARIZONA NATIONALS
PHOENIX --- Winternationals winner John Force led the way for the trio of John Force Racing Mustangs at the NHRA Arizona Nationals today. Force finished the first day of qualifying in the no. 2 position just behind second year driver Matt Hagan. Force in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang was the fourth quickest funny car in the first session and then his crew chief brain-trust of Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and Mike Neff stepped it up in the final session of Friday powering Force to the finish line with a 4.074 second run at 304.61 mph. Force and Hagan were the only drivers to dip into the ohs on Friday.
"This car and particularly this chassis that Ford and John Medlen put together has really come alive. It seems like there is more traction than I had last year. (Austin) Coil, Bernie (Fedderly) and (Mike) Neff teaming up (as crew chiefs). They really complement each other. We got our balance back. Our car is running good. I have to clap my hands to (Matt) Hagan. Running that big number out there and just getting around us. Robert (Hight) was going for it in the Auto Club Mustang. The fans are very positive and that is what it is all about," said Force.
Throughout the day Force talked about maintaining a high energy level to be up for the fight. He is drawing some strength from the young men who are turning the wrenches on his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
"My guys that raced with me for years were great and we won a lot of championships. It was just time for a change. Some of them chose to leave and we kept some of them. Lew Arrington is still with us. His dad was a famous funny car driver. He is over with Guido (Ashley Force Hood co-crew chief Dean Antonelli) now because he and Guido grew up together and came up through the ranks together. We brought the complete John Medlen Mike Neff team over. They have a lot of energy. They have a lot of fight," said the 127 time winner.
"The combination we have here is exciting. There are a lot of things that create a winner. You can't do it all on your own. You have to have a team. You have to have a car that runs and you have to have a driver. I'll be honest for the past two years I was carrying a lot of pain. My legs are back. I can get through the day down. At the end of the day in Pomona I was strong. It was all a matter of getting myself back into shape. I got my body back. I got my race car back and I got a new team so we'll see what happens."
2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight made a strong opening run ending the first session in the no. 2 spot grabbing two qualifying bonus points. In the last session of the day running beside Hagan under a setting sun Hight smoked the tires and had to settle for his first run carrying over into Saturday
Ashley Force Hood opened the day with a 4.168 second run at 298.40 mph and finished the day with an improved 4.119 second run at 295.74 mph. She will enter Saturday's final day of qualifying in the no. 3 position one one-thousandths in front of Winternationals runner-up and defending Arizona Nationals champion Ron Capps.
"Both runs we went right down the track. That is a great way to start off the weekend. We may not have the quickest runs but we have two really good runs from point A to point B. Those would be good runs to have on race day," said Force Hood.
"Your goal is always to be the quickest but sometimes getting that consistency is also good. You want to be consistent in qualifying instead of just getting one good run over two days. We have some consistency and we'll just need to build on that tomorrow and into Sunday. We have steadily improved and stepped it up. We don't want to waste a run. We want to be a little cautious but also push it a little. That has worked well for us. Tomorrow we will run earlier in the day but Top Fuel runs before us so we'll see what the conditions are like. It may not be too different as far as the time of day we run."