John Force and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang team led the way for Team JFR posting the 4th quickest elapsed time at the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Force piloted his Jimmy Prock tuned Funny Car to a blistering time of 4.025 seconds at 316.60 mph. Matt Hagan is the provisional No. 1 qualifier with a track record 3.986 second elapsed time.
This was the second race for Force to drive with his new crew chief and the 15-time Funny Car champion continues to be positive about his decision to shake up his teams.
Prior to the Mile High Nationals in Denver last week Force announced he would be driving for world champion crew chief Jimmy Prock and teammate Robert Hight would switch to running a Mike Neff tuned Funny Car.
“Well our cars are up there in the top half. It’s too early to tell what it shows. The dragster was trying too hard, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” said Force.
“Probably going to be in the heat, run earlier, so that’ll probably leave Courtney, Robert and myself in the top half of the field. We want to run faster so we’ll see what happens. A 4.02 with Jimmy Prock was pretty impressive,” added Force.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang were consistent all day running the third quickest elapsed time in the first session and in the evening session Hight stepped up his elapsed time and posted the 8th quickest time.
Hight’s opening session 4.082 second run was two thousandths of a second from being the second quickest elapsed time.
“Both runs were good. At least it goes up and down the track. I’m sure Mike Neff wanted more obviously. You see those three-second runs out there and you want to push. Neff and I had a talk before the run.
We looked at and we knew we couldn’t be bumped out of the top twelve and figured we’d stay in the top eight, so we were pressing. Early on it ran good numbers to do that, but in the middle it’s laying over and it’s just not running real good. I’ll be honest, it’s better than it going out and smoking the tires and then thinking ‘well, what do we have to do to fix it?’ We know what we have to do. Step it up. We’re not going to have conditions like this again,” said Hight.
In the second session the temperatures were dropping dramatically as the Funny Car session began. Hight and his Mike Neff tuned Ford Mustang Funny Car were in the past pair with Ron Capps and it was a tremendous side by side run with both drivers running 4.0s and Hight tripping the lights at 4.058 seconds at 311.41 mph.
“Right now we’re chasing the number ten guy and we’re qualified ahead of him. I feel good going into Saturday. We have to be a step ahead of him and the eighth and ninth guys, we have to be a step ahead of them tomorrow for both runs. We do that and it’s going to be successful. Right now we’re eighth and we’re going to have lane choice on Sunday, unless something changes tomorrow,” said Hight.
“Every run right now is critical. We are counting points and what’s cool about Neff is he gives you so much confidence. He goes up there and says ‘You know what? I ain’t worried about making the top ten. I think we can make the top five if we do what we’re supposed to do.’ That makes it easy for me to go up there and do what I’m supposed to do.”
Courtney Force and her Traxxas Ford Mustang saw some improvement in their team today when they made two back-to-back quality runs to kick-off the weekend at Sonoma Raceway.
Force laid down a 4.117 elapsed time at 304.25 mph in the first session and sat solidly in the No. 6 qualifying spot by the end of the round.
“We made a few changes on our car for this weekend and ran a 4.11 to get us qualified in the top half of the field which is good for our car for the changes we made. It seems to be working so far. I’m comfortable in the car and I love racing here. It’s good to be back here in Sonoma.
In the second session, Force drove her Traxxas Ford Mustang straight down the track to a 4.057 second run at 314.46 mph and ended the day in the No. 7 position.
“Going up for Q2, everyone just had to get after it. It’s a really fast field and it’s always exciting coming out here and making a night run right after the sun goes down. It gets so cold here at night that it’s exciting."
"You know the cars are going to be fast and you have to be on the top of your game.”
“It was great to see our car run in the low 4.0’s. Our Traxxas Ford spit out a spark plug down there and it slowed our car to a 4.05, but we definitely can’t complain. It’s still a great run for our team and it gets us in the top half of the field for now. We’ll see if we can even improve tomorrow,” said Force.