Reading: Force, Hight - Ford interview 2010-10-06

This Week in Ford Racing October 6, 2010 The John Force Racing team heads to Reading, Pennsylvania this weekend for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. With optimal track conditions forecasted for this weekend, John Force,...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 6, 2010

The John Force Racing team heads to Reading, Pennsylvania this weekend for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. With optimal track conditions forecasted for this weekend, John Force, driver and owner of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Funny Car and teammate Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car talk about the chances of setting a national record and what they have to do in order to win the championship this season.

ROBERT HIGHT - Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car

HEADING INTO READING YOU'RE IN SIXTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN UP TO THIS POINT AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO DEFEND YOUR TITLE THESE NEXT THREE RACES? "It's been a disaster the start off the Countdown, losing three first rounds in a row. You can't have that, but we're not done yet. I have Jimmy Prock in my corner and this is how he likes to race. From here on out it's not just how we do on race day or how we qualify. We need to gain points every single qualifying round. Every run we make from here on out has super importance. We need to go into Reading and try to get those three points every qualifying run. We need to try and set a national record because the conditions are going to be there for that. If we can do that, that's over a round and a half that we can gain before we ever get to race day in points. That's what we need to do. Jimmy Prock likes to race that way, that's the way he's always been, very aggressive and swing for the fences. He also doesn't do it blindly. He knows what we need to do and how to make that car run. This is his kind of conditions. Vegas could be nice and cool. Pomona could be nice and cool. If we do everything right we still have a shot at the end. I hate and I never wish anything bad on my teammates John or Ashley but in all honestly it's not going to do me any good doing what I just said and qualifying and run well on race day and race John in the final. Let's say I beat him, that's only 20 points I gain. It all depends on all of the guys in front of us too, what they do. We can only control what we can do. We have a game plan and we're going to be aggressive and try to go after it."

DO YOU TAKE COMFORT IN THE FACT THAT YOU OPENED THE COUNTDOWN WITH THREE WINS IN A ROW? DOES THAT REASSURE YOU THAT YOU'VE DONE IT BEFORE AND COULD DO IT AGAIN? "It is, and earlier this season I went to four finals in a row, won three of those races in a row so it's not uncharted territory. We've done this before and we're capable of doing it again. That's something that I keep looking back on. We've had some bad luck here in the Countdown, breaking the throttle cable, part malfunction in Indy first round. My car can run. We're not searching for a combination. We're not lost. We just have to do a better job catching things before they go wrong and being a little bit more proactive. If you give Jimmy [Prock] a good race car he can make it run."

YOU MENTION THE TEAM AS WHOLE. YOU'RE ALL STILL IN THE TOP SIX WITH JOHN IN THE LEAD. YOU IS THERE AN UNEASINESS WITH THE TEAM THAT YOU'VE GOT TO THE COUNTDOWN AND IT'S BEEN THIS HARD OR IS THIS WHAT YOU FULLY EXPECTED? "I fully expected it. When the conditions get good it brings everyone closer together. It takes a little of the finesse out of trying to get a race car down a hot, greasy, slippery race track when it's hot, so I fully expected this. There's not much you can do to squeeze two or three more hundreds out of these things. It's just the way the rules are and as close as everyone's running it's tough to do. I still believe in the team concept and if we stay together, work together, help each other, we can win this championship."

IS THERE ONE THING FANS SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR THIS WEEKEND THAT WILL BE A DECIDING FACTOR AT READING? "These conditions. They've re-done Reading's race track. It's all concrete now for us. The way the conditions are cooler this time of year, you're going to see a national record for Funny Car. I'm willing to put money on that."

IS THERE AN OPTIMAL TEMPERATURE? "If it's in the sixties and a little cloudy and cool the temperature is going to be pretty near that. In the sixties and seventies and it just doesn't get any better than that. We know how to make big horsepower with these BOSS 500s and that's the kind of conditions where we like to flex our muscles and show what we're capable of."

HALF WAY THROUGH THE COUNTDOWN TO 1. YOU HAVE A 20 POINT LEAD BUT IT'S BETTER TO LEAD THAN BE SECOND, THIRD OR FOURTH. "It really is, coming from a crash that I had a couple of years ago, me personally and for my team to be back in the running, and to have three cars in the Countdown. We have to still look at the other Fords with [Bob] Tasca and [Tim] Wilkerson. We have five of us having a shot at this championship against the others, so to be in the lead is good but it's not that much of a lead. We just have to stay focused and try to knock out rounds."

HOW MUCH DID GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE FINALS IN DALLAS BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE GOING INTO READING THIS WEEKEND? "I really wanted to get a win there in Dallas. My daughter took me out in Indy and then in Charlotte I was taken out there first round. It shows you anybody can beat you on any given day. To come back in the final was good. I wanted to win Dallas. A lot of the reason was because of my crash out there. I wanted to get closure from flying out of there in that helicopter, I hated it. It's just kind of a mental thing. I have to move beyond that and come back next year and try to do it again. At the end of the day, the car was running good, not so good in the finals, smoked the tires and was taken out by a kid, who's really a good kid named Matt Hagan. He's going to fight all the way to the end in these last three races. It gave me confidence because my car had the consistency during qualifying and what it needed during the race to win the race, we just couldn't get the job done.

YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE OPTIMAL CONDITIONS IN READING. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING YOU HAVE TO RUN A 4.0 JUST TO BE IN THE HUNT FOR THE WIN. "The engineering and technology that we've got from Ford, not just the chassis and body designs, but the BOSS 500 motor that we've built with Ford, when that really pays off is when you have the guerilla conditions of good air, which makes a good race track. When you can hit it with all you got. Robert [Hight] just told me today that Reading is supposed to be killer. The air is supposed to be great. I was on the phone with [Bob] Tasca yesterday on other issues where we're going next year and with the motor program. It's exciting because [Bob] Tasca runs our program so he knows he can make those big numbers too in that Motorcraft Ford along with us in the Auto Club and Castrol, we're going to do some damage. We aren't guaranteeing that we're going to win the race at Reading, but one of these teams, we're going to do some damage."

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT NATIONAL RECORDS THIS WEEKEND AT READING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "Without a doubt, every point counts. The two cars in each session pick up points. Robert [Hight] that one year when I kept in out of Houston in 2007 because of Eric's [Medlen] crash when he was killed and I wouldn't let any of my cars run including myself, Robert only missed the championship by one point. It's very critical. You don't think about one point until you're down and right down to the end in Pomona. Every round counts and a national record, that's twenty points. If anyone can put that national record on the board it's this BOSS 500. It makes big power and I think that we can get the job done with one of these Ford teams."

YOU'RE THREE RACES AWAY FROM GETTING THAT 15TH CHAMPIONSHIP. DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THAT OR DO YOU WAIT UNTIL POMONA? "That would be like talking to Brett Favre about winning the Super Bowl. You get your head in the wrong place that's how you lose. We're staying focused. I was in Indy over the weekend looking at our motor program and our chassis program. We've got cars going up to Ford Motor Company to be put on a railroad track and sent down and crashed. We're going to do everything we can to test safety because safety and winning has to go hand-in-hand. We've got it covered as long as we continue the work with Ford and the other sponsors to keep moving ahead. Right now, I don't want to think about anything but winning the race, winning the rounds. If there is a national record there, let me tell you, Jimmy Prock likes to run on a bad track, and he likes to go after a national record. Robert's still got a shot. He got hurt last week when I beat him first round in the Auto Club Ford, but he's got a shot and he's coming in just like [Bob] Tasca and Ashley [Force Hood] with guns a blazing. I can't wait to see what happens."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan