St. Louis: John Force Racing Saturday report

JOHN FORCE STAYS NO. 1 AT AAA INSURANCE MIDWEST NATIONALS MADISON, IL --- John Force's Friday night run of 4.103 seconds was quick enough to keep the 14-time Funny Car champ and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang at the top of the Funny...


MADISON, IL --- John Force's Friday night run of 4.103 seconds was quick enough to keep the 14-time Funny Car champ and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang at the top of the Funny Car category. He set both ends of the Gateway International Raceway track record with that run when the speed of 307.23 mph is factored in. At the end of Saturday Force secured his 134th No. 1 qualifier and moved one step closer to history as he is now only four No. 1 qualifiers away from the all-time leader Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson.

When asked what the latest No. 1 qualifier meant to the 60 year-old driver and 129-time NHRA event winner, Force was blunt in his personal assessment.

"It means they will let me keep my job. If you haven't noticed the last two years it looked like I forgot how to race. We teamed Mike Neff up with Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly, those guys have led me to all those championships, and this young kid just came in here and got everybody excited. He threw some new hard balls at them. A little bit of change don't hurt. I also have a really good bunch of young guys putting my race car together," said the winningest driver in NHRA history.

"Understand all through our team (crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock, Dean Antonelli, Ron Douglas, everybody that works there they help make this thing function. When one is in trouble we try and help the other. The run I made today wasn't real bad. It spun the tires real bad at 800 feet. I shouldn't have kept driving it I just wanted to see what it would muster."

While Force was pleased with his overall performance he raved about his daughter Ashley Force Hood's run in the heat on Saturday a 4.123 second run that was the class of the field for the day.

"My run last night was really good in the cool air. I think the impressive run was Ashley's run today. Running that 4.12 in the heat means that is the car to beat. I was struggling to get down through there," said Force. "It is a Castrol car with Ford, Auto Club, Mac Tools and BrandSource. At the end of the day it is our job to get that top spot. I am just really proud of Ashley. The kid is driving good. I have a good hot rod I can race."

Force Hood was also pleased that her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang moved into the No. 2 qualifying spot securing a 1-2 qualifying finish for John Force Racing.

"The most important run was the day run today and we were able to get down the track really well. Of all the rounds I think we will take that one. Hopefully conditions will be like that tomorrow," said Force Hood. "We were happy with that. We didn't get down on the run tonight but my guys were not really sure what the weather was going to do. I don't think they were too surprised that it smoked the tires. It was a weird weekend to only get three shots at the track in different weather conditions."

With Force No. 1 and Force Hood No. 2 the only way the two teammates could cross paths on the track would be if they met in the final round. It is a prospect that the 2007 Rookie of the Year would look forward to but knows is not a given.

"It would be nice to race him. Finishing qualifying 1-2 that is how you want to go into race day. It is a good way to start race day. We'll see how well all three of these John Force Mustangs can do," added Force Hood.

2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight struggled throughout the weekend in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. The team continued to battle gremlins as he qualified No. 9 and will face veteran Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round. He has only raced Creasy once before during Hight's rookie season of 2005 when he defeated him at the Gatornationals. Ironically, sister-in-law Force Hood's father-in-law is working on Creasy's team this weekend so the first round match-up will once again be a family affair for Hight. In ten rounds of racing for Hight this season he has raced either Ashley Force Hood (once) or John Force (twice) three times before facing a Hood assisted Creasy tomorrow.

"(Crew chief) Jimmy Prock and my guys will figure this Auto Club Mustang out. We had a good test session in Las Vegas and I am not worried. I know we need to go rounds and hopefully I will get to race John in the second round and Ashley in the final if everything falls our way. This class is tough so there are no guarantees. You have to take a guy like Dale Creasy Jr. seriously. He is a great driver and I will have to have my A game to get a win against him tomorrow," said Hight.

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , John Force , Dale Creasy Jr. , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Austin Coil , Mike Neff