Seattle: John Force Racing Saturday notes

HIGHT HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT, JOHN FORCE MISSES MARK -John Force Misses Qualifying at Seattle for First Time Since 1979 - (SEATTLE, WA) --- The final day of qualifying was bittersweet for John Force Racing. As temperatures continued to rise ...

HIGHT HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT, JOHN FORCE MISSES MARK
-John Force Misses Qualifying at Seattle for First Time Since 1979 -

(SEATTLE, WA) --- The final day of qualifying was bittersweet for John Force Racing. As temperatures continued to rise throughout the day tricky track conditions hampered John Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang's chances of getting into one of the tightest Funny Car fields in recent memory.

A decent but not spectacular run in the first session was not enough to move Force into the Top sixteen and in his final attempt his Ford Mustang lost traction just past the halfway point and his hopes of racing on Sunday went up in smoke. From the top end Force was motivated to improve and fire-up his teammates.

"We need to focus on winning but right now we have to evaluate our car with Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and myself. It just isn't running like it should be running. I just want to be positive and I really want to thank the fans that came by our pit hundreds and hundreds of them. They were telling me 'You will get in. You will get in.' It had me mentally positive and I thought it was going to go but it didn't," said the winningest driver in NHRA history. "We have three hot rods in the show and we'll come out here tomorrow and win this race. I'm in this Countdown for the championship so far. I think I'll probably get hurt here. We will fix this heap."

While Force was dejected he did have high hopes for his three qualified teammates led by No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight who has qualified No. 1 the last three years in a row at Pacific Raceway is hoping to make his efforts on Friday and Saturday mean something on Sunday in his first round match-up with points leader and juggernaut Tim Wilkerson.

"Honestly being No. 1 qualifier again isn't that big of a deal when you haven't gone on to win on Sunday. You have four shots at qualifying and sometimes you can throw one down and get at the top. That doesn't mean you can win on Sunday. That is what this whole game is about. Luckily, this week we have a pretty big chance here," said the two-time POWERade championship runner-up. "It is no secret that Tim Wilkerson is way out in front with the points lead. If we could capitalize on how he qualified today. We can't really rely on other guys to take him out. He took me out last week so I didn't do my job either. If we could get him tomorrow first round and win this race it is actually a little more realistic to catch him before the countdown."

Hight knows that there is much more than twenty points on the line in their first round match-up. Moving up in the POWERade point standings and gaining the top spot for the Countdown is still in the middle of Hight's crosshairs.

"It is a big plus to be number one (in the Countdown). You have almost a two round lead going into the last six races and you add that with a good running car you can really be on a roll. That is really the goal," said the former world-class trapshooter.

His strong qualifying effort moved Hight back into the top position for the US Smokeless Showdown at the Mac Tools US Nationals Labor Day weekend. Currently he is joined by teammate Ashley Force in the eight car field that will vie for $100,000 at the race within the race.

The other big story line in the John Force Racing camp is the rookie vs. rookie, Ford vs. Ford first round tilt between Mike Neff and Bob Tasca III. Neff, the only rookie driver to reach a final round this season, will have lane choice and is not focusing on who he is racing just the end result.

"I just want to win first round, move onto second round and try to get my first win. It doesn't matter really who is in the other lane. We made three good runs here. I think we have as good a chance as anybody."

This will be Neff's seventh Ford versus Ford match-up in nine races. Previously he has squared off against either teammate John Force or Robert Hight. The former off-road truck racer and world champion crew chief has a 4-2 record in his previous six all Blue Oval races.

2007 Rookie of the Year Ashley Force will face Cruz Pedregon in the first round and the Cal-State Fullerton grad is looking forward to going head to head with the veteran driver. She knows that in addition to going rounds tomorrow for her personal benefit she and her teammates will have to neutralize some of her father's opponents.

"I feel good. We got down every run and the last run wasn't a full pass but considering not too many other teams made good passes," said Force. "If it is cool then we will all run good. If it is hot then we have the tune-up from today to work with."

In the Top Alcohol ranks Brittany Force made another solid run in the final qualifying session covering the quarter-mile in 5.374 seconds, 267.53 mph. The speed was a new career high for the sophomore at Cal State-Fullerton.

In the first round of eliminations Force defeated ex-boyfriend Justin Davis for the first round win of her Top Alcohol Dragster career. She will face No. 1 qualifier Duane Shields in the second round tomorrow.

***

THE DRIVERS

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Saturday Qualifying: DNQ, 17th quickest run of the event at 4.158 seconds at 293.47 mph.

Notable: Second time Force has not qualified in 2008... First time since 1979 Force has not qualified at Seattle NHRA national event.

Quotable: "We need to focus on winning but right now we have to evaluate our car with Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and myself. It just isn't running like it should be running."

ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Saturday Qualifying: 7th at 4.095 seconds, 299.66 mph

First Round Opponent (W-L): Cruz Pedregon (1-2)

Quotable: On racing on Sunday with her sister Brittany moving on to TAD round two- "I'm very excited. It will be busy since we'll be running back and forth a lot. It will be crazy and hopefully it will be crazy all day long because all our teams will be going rounds. We can go up and root for her and she'll be rooting for all of us. I think she will continue to do really well. The car is running good and she is driving great."

ROBERT HIGHT, 38, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Saturday Qualifying: 1st at 4.056 seconds, 304.39 mph

First Round Opponent (W-L): Tim Wilkerson (4-3)

Quotable: "I feel it is mine, Neff's and Ashley's job to try and stop some of these guys and to minimize the damage to his (John Force's) team. We want all four of our cars in this Countdown. He (Force) could take a big hit tomorrow if some of these guys behind him win. We have to do our jobs and try and take them out."

MIKE NEFF, 41, Old Spice Ford Mustang
Saturday Qualifying: 4th at 4.089 seconds, 303.84 mph

First Round Opponent (W-L): Bob Tasca III (0-0)

Quotable: "I just want to win first round, move onto second round and try to get my first win. It doesn't matter really who is in the other lane."

BRITTANY FORCE, 22, BrandSource Top Alcohol Dragster
Qualifying: 8th at 5.370 seconds, 260.06 mph

First Round Opponent (W-L): Justin Davis (1-0)

Race Results: Defeated Justin Davis

Quotable: "The car has made a lot of improvements and we are still stepping it up. I am learning more as a driver with each run. We are all learning and getting better."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Duane Shields , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , Bob Tasca III , Mike Neff , Brittany Force