Ford Funny Car drivers and teammates John Force, Ashley Force Hood and Robert Hight currently sit 1-2-3 in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Series point standings heading into the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals this weekend in Topeka. John Force...
Ford Funny Car drivers and teammates John Force, Ashley Force Hood and Robert Hight currently sit 1-2-3 in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Series point standings heading into the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals this weekend in Topeka. John Force Racing crew chiefs discuss how all three teams work as one and this weekend's race.
MIKE NEFF - co-crew chief, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE WORKING WITH AUSTIN COIL AND BERNIE FEDDERLY? "Like I've said before, it's a great honor. I've always thought of these guys as the pinnacle of drag racing. They have accomplished more - Austin Coil, John Force and Bernie Fedderly - probably more than anybody else has and probably more than anybody else ever will. I've learned a lot since I've come to work over here and so far everything has been running real smooth. We're having a good time doing it."
ON THE JOHN FORCE RACING MUSTANGS SITTING 1-2-3 IN SERIES POINTS. "I'm just happy to see all three cars up in the front. That's always been the goal. So far with as many races as we've had, we've won five of them. We're doing real well as far as I'm concerned."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JOHN AND HOW DIFFERENT IS IT BEING A CREW CHIEF THIS YEAR VERSUS BEING A DRIVER LAST YEAR? "My relationship with John has been really good. He's always treated me really well. He goes out of his way to make sure everybody is happy, so that's been a real neat thing. Plus, he's so funny and entertaining. That's the best part. He's always trying to make you laugh and keep it fun so that's the biggest joy that I get out of being over here."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO TOPEKA THIS WEEKEND? "We have only got two set-ups for our car so far. It runs good when the conditions are really good and then we can slow it down when it's really hot. We're trying to find that middle ground. Somewhere where it will run around a 4.15, 4.18, we just really haven't been able to do that. I think we're getting closer. We weren't too far off the pace last weekend, so if we can just pick it up this weekend I think we should be competitive."
AUSTIN COIL - co-crew chief, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
JOHN FORCE RACING IS CURRENTLY 1-2-3 IN THE POINTS. THE LAST TIME THAT HAPPENED WAS COMING OUT OF TOPEKA IN 2002. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE ORGANIZATION? "It's a great thing for us all to be up on top of the leader board like that. That's been the goal of the team since we had three cars, to line them up all like that. Unfortunately it doesn't count for much until the season is over, or in this case until we're going into the chase. It's a great place to be. It sort of sends a message to the competition and it shows that we're all working together. It's like we don't have three teams, we have one team with three cars. That's been Force's philosophy ever since the multi-car deal and it all works. We all get along with each other. We all like each other. We all try to help each other whenever we can and it's working like it's supposed to right now."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO TOPEKA? "There's something about the Topeka race fans, they just seem to love everybody and they just seem to be having such a great time at the races. It's a joyful stop on the tour. Wherever you stop and go to have dinner or breakfast for that matter, the fans come up and tell you that they're glad you're here and what a wonderful time they're having. We've always looked forward to going to Topeka as well as hanging with the locals and racing at the track. We've had our butts kicked enough the last couple of races I think we're due for a get back even with the rest of our teammates, not to mention the rest of the competition and kick some butt."
JIMMY PROCK - crew chief, Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR BACK-TO-BACK WINS IN ST. LOUIS AND IN ATLANTA? "That was certainly nice to do. We've struggled some this year, but we've finally got it going in the right direction. We've got a good hot set-up, which is probably good for right now because most of that will be what we're running in. I feel good about it. I think we've gotten over some of our problems and we've got a good set-up right now and everybody is working well together. Hopefully we can keep doing it."
ARE YOU A BELIEVER IN MOMENTUM? "Sure, confidence in anything you do is good, especially in this. You always have to make a lot of decisions and how you're feeling about it and whether you're sure about what you're doing, whether it's going well or if it isn't, has some influence on how you do. I would say confidence is a good thing. For the drivers too, it's better for the drivers when the car is running good than when it's not because sometimes they'll try to do stuff that they wouldn't normally do. I think when you're running good and everybody is confident that's a big part of doing well."
TALK ABOUT TAKING CONFIDENCE AND MOMENTUM INTO TOPEKA. "Right now we're doing good. We're going to go out there and try to win another race. Hopefully one of our cars will be able to do that. It's probably going to be hot again on Saturday and Sunday. Our car has seemed to be a little bit better when it's been hot lately compared to the rest of them. Hopefully that will continue and we can win another race."
LAST YEAR DEAN ANTONELLI AND RON DOUGLAS HELPED YOU WITH HIGHT'S SET-UP. THIS YEAR YOU WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING JOHN'S CAR TO MATCH ROBERT'S CHAMPIONSHIP CAR. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE IN BRINGING FORCE BACK TO THE TOP OF THE PACK? "The last couple of races John's car started to come around and a lot of the parts were the same. Neff, Bernie and Coil, we just tried to match the cars as best we could so we had something to compare to. You can't make them exactly the same because of the clutch disc basically, but other than that, all of the components are the same. We matched everything as best we could. They just had a decent place to start and they did very well with it. You have to give them credit as much as anything. All we did was get a good starting point and they went and ran with it. It's kind of like evolution, it changes all the time. You have to adapt to different stuff, the race track, the conditions and they basically deserve all the credit with making it do well."
ON THE JOHN FORCE RACING MUSTANGS SITTING 1-2-3 IN SERIES POINTS. "We're just glad to get all these cars running up in the top there and hopefully we can get them running good and keep it going that way. We need to win another championship. That's really what the goal is all about. We're just plugging along towards that and hopefully we can make it happen."
DEAN ANTONELLI - co-crew chief, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP AMONGST ALL THREE TEAMS? "Everybody works well here together. We are all one team and I think that always parlays into success. Everybody checks their egos in the trailer. If you're wrong, you admit you're wrong, and if somebody has a better direction you're willing to try it. I think that shows in all of our cars performances."
YOU'RE COMING OFF A RUNNER-UP FINISH AND YOU'RE HEADING TO A TRACK WHERE YOU WERE RUNNER-UP AT LAST YEAR. TALK ABOUT RACING IN TOPEKA. "It's going to be warm and Topeka is probably one of the more difficult surfaces to negotiate. Last year we had a pretty good handle on it until the final, we thought we had it handled then too. I kind of like the way our car has been running the last couple races. Jimmy's car was awful good last week so we're going to build off what he was doing. You've got ours to pick up a hundredth or two and maybe parlay that into a win."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S A DIFFICULT SURFACE? "It's not too bad for the first 660 feet. It's probably comparable to a lot of tracks, but the asphalt the last 400 feet of it is pretty hard to negotiate if it's sunny out, and probably if it's over 70 degrees outside."
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR THE LAST HALF OF THE SURFACE? "Most tracks you can help that situation a little bit with aerodynamics with putting more spoiler on the car and tuning the engine for the second half of the run. It's probably troubled enough that it's not really trying to keep it hooked up but controlling the amount of spin, because it's going to spin. When these things spin all types of things can happen. It's just a tricky place to be."
RON DOUGLAS - co-crew chief, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car
HOW HAS ASHLEY BEEN DOING THIS SEASON? "Her confidence is up as a driver right now. She did real well last week. She got us a round on a hole shot and got us a round and did a real nice job all day. We feel like we have a little bit of momentum too and we're going to go out there and finish what we couldn't finish last year, which is get the trophy."
-source: ford racing