Reading: John Force Racing final report

NEFF GOES TO SEMIS; ALL JFR MUSTANGS RACE INTO COUNTDOWN -Banner weekend as John Force moves into Showdown and Countdown- READING, PA -- John Force Racing took much of the drama out of the chase to get into the Countdown to One as Ashley Force...

NEFF GOES TO SEMIS; ALL JFR MUSTANGS RACE INTO COUNTDOWN
-Banner weekend as John Force moves into Showdown and Countdown-

READING, PA -- John Force Racing took much of the drama out of the chase to get into the Countdown to One as Ashley Force clinched a position in the Countdown to One with her solid qualifying effort on Friday and Saturday. The sophomore driver was followed into the Countdown to One today by her father and 14-time champion John Force by virtue of his first round win over Ron Capps. Rookie driver and favorite for Rookie of the Year Mike Neff raced to the semi-finals and a clinched at least the 10th and final position in the Countdown to One ending the championship bids of fellow rookie and Ford driver Bob Tasca III and veteran Del Worsham, his closest two competitors.

Team leader John Force who just yesterday turned in a miraculous performance to qualify for his 25th US Smokeless Showdown with teammates Ashley Force and Robert Hight was thrilled with today's championship developments.

"We did our job for the sponsors Castrol, Ford, Auto Club of Southern California, Old Spice, Mac Tools, BrandSource and Sanyo. With Old Spice being new that (getting in the Countdown) was important. Mike Neff, John Medlen and their team did a great job. We are going to do our best to win another championship. We are going to focus on Indy. To win Indy and then after that the Countdown starts. I am very proud of all of my people," said the 14-time Funny Car champion.

Force making the Countdown to One was another major step in his recovery from the nearly career ending injuries suffered last September at the Texas Motorplex. The new and improved Force was right on track according to his plans heading into the US Nationals.

"I worked really hard and I had great doctors and physical therapists. (JFR marketing representative) Chad Light worked with me through this whole thing. I want to thank him for all his work and Robert Ortmeyer, my physical therapist," said Force. "I am going to be 100% by Indy and that was my goal. I have a few weeks left and I'll get back in the gym. It is showing in my driving."

While Force is happy to have four Ford Mustangs in the Countdown to One he feels that one driver on his team stands out above the rest. Since the beginning of the season Force has said that son-in-law Robert Hight had the driving skills and his Jimmy Prock tuned Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang was the car to beat for the championship. His opinion hasn't changed as the Countdown looms on the horizon.

"What really matters is putting four cars in the championship. Robert has the best car to win a championship for us. I'd like to see Ashley or Robert win the championship and even Neff has a chance," said the most prolific winner in NHRA history.

While Hight does share his boss' confidence he knows he has a team that is capable of great things if they can get some luck and figure out a few stumbling blocks. They battled this weekend and came up short in a first round match-up with Mike Neff.

"We got behind the eight ball when we came in the gate and we never caught up to it. We had dumb things happen that weren't mistakes from the team guys just dumb stuff. One Friday night thing killed us. We still don't know exactly what happened and that is what I hate because it could happen again. You live with it but we aren't getting any better unless we figure this problem out. I have all the confidence in the world in my team and (crew chief) Jimmy Prock to figure this Mustang out," said the two-time championship runner-up.

"I know what it takes to be a champion from working on John's Mustang (as a crew member). We have a team that can win a championship. I've had the number two on my car for the last two seasons. I am focusing on lowering that number and the way to do that is to win a championship. We are going to work around the clock to get that job done," added a determined Hight.

Rookie of the Year favorite Mike Neff made the biggest move this week clinching the final spot in the Countdown to One and racing into the semi-finals before he dropped a close race to professional drag racing instructor Frank Hawley

"It felt good to go some rounds. We couldn't get the set-up right going down track. We spun the tires the first two rounds and on the last run we thought we were going to fix that but we put a cylinder out," said Neff. "That is what cost us that race. I really thought we were going to get him and go to another final."

As the only rookie to make the Countdown Neff knows he'll have his work cut-out for himself. He can still move up from the 10th position with a solid performance at the US Nationals but the former off-road racer is happy to have a chance at his first Funny Car championship as a driver.

"Getting in the Countdown was definitely one of our goals at the beginning of the year. We really wanted to get in there this weekend solid so we didn't have to worry about that going into Indy," said Neff. "Indy is just such a high pressure race. It feels good to get that monkey off our back."

***

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol Tection Extra Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.139 seconds, 300.73 mph

Race Results: Beat Ron Capps. Lost to Jack Beckman.

Notable: Clinched spot in Countdown to One...Clinched 8th and final spot in US Smokeless Showdown for 25th time.

Quotable: "We did our job for the sponsors. We are going to do our best to win another championship. We are going to focus on Indy. To win Indy and then after that the Countdown starts. I am very proud of all of my people."

ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.143 seconds, 296.63 mph

Race Results: Beat Tommy Johnson Jr. Lost to Mike Neff

Notable: Clinched spot in Countdown to One...Clinched No. 1 spot in US Smokeless Showdown.

Quotable: "We finally broke our first round jinx. That felt good. (Mike) Neff had a good car today. If there is a time to not win a race then I would rather do it now as opposed to one inside the Countdown. The next race is Indy and everybody wants to win Indy. Then you have the Countdown races so you don't want to have a bad race there."

ROBERT HIGHT, 38, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 14th at 4.204 seconds, 290.32 mph

Race Results: Lost to Mike Neff.

Quotable: ""We got behind the eight ball when we came in the gate and we never caught up to it. We had dumb things happen that weren't mistakes from the team guys just dumb stuff. One Friday night thing killed us. We still don't know exactly what happened and that is what I hate because it could happen again."

MIKE NEFF, 41, Old Spice Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.134 seconds, 298.40 mph

Race results: Beat Robert Hight, Ashley Force. Lost to Frank Hawley.

Notable: Clinched spot in Countdown to One... won 399th and 400th JFR round for crew chief John Medlen

Quotable: "It felt good to go some rounds. We couldn't get the set-up right going down track. We spun the tires the first two rounds and this last run we thought we were going to fix that but we put a cylinder out. That is what cost us that race. I really thought we were going to get him and go to another final."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Bob Tasca III , Frank Hawley , John Medlen , Mike Neff , Tommy Johnson Jr.