TEAM JFR QUALIFYING REPORT
2009 NHRA Saturday Qualifying Summary
5th race of the NHRA Countdown to 1
23rd of 24 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Series
9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, NV
Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2009
* * * *
POINTS LEADERS SQUARE OFF IN LAS VEGAS ROUND ONE
-Hight will face teammate Force Hood in opening round of eliminations-
LAS VEGAS –- Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood knew they would be battling each other for the 2009 Funny Car championship. They just did not expect to be squaring off in the opening round of eliminations at the 9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
Ashley Force Hood struggled all weekend on a tricky track and made it into the field on her last qualifying attempt grabbing the No. 14 spot with a run of 4.197 seconds at 292.52 mph. In a cruel twist of fate she will face the No. 3 qualifier, funny car points leader Robert Hight, and his Auto Club Ford Mustang in the first round.
“It is kind of a bummer. We all wanted to get in here and qualify near the top with both of our teams. That is a tough first round race because besides my car Ashley has got as good a car that is out there. You know that Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas will fix that thing. We are going to have to go out there and make a good run,” said Hight.
Force Hood’s elapsed time was equal to former JFR driver Gary Densham but the tie-breaker is faster mile per hour so because her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang covered the 1000 ft. track at 292.52 mph versus Densham’s 288.64 mph she faces Hight.
Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang has been a dominant competitor at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway picking up qualifying bonus points in three of the four sessions. He accumulated seven points for his qualifying effort and was able to distance himself from Force Hood by 25 points which is equal to more than a round of racing.
“We qualified well and got some points in just about every qualifying session. I think that puts us more than a round ahead of her so if we lose it is still not over. Those qualifying points that the NHRA came up with….good job. Those definitely helped us. We are just going to go out there and give the fans a good side by side show. We are going to help those guys if they need a little help tonight because without them we would not be in this Countdown. They really helped us. That is the way we work at John Force Racing,” said Hight.
Both drivers addressed the Las Vegas media and they were joined by Hight’s daughter Autumn. When asked who she would be rooting for Autumn calmly proclaimed she would be pulling for her daddy. Aunt Ashley also touched on her five year old niece’s rooting attitude.
“If Robert wins then I want him to win the race. We want one of us to win this championship. It has come to the end and there are only a handful of rounds left. If it is not going to be our team winning it then I want this Auto Club team to get it. Autumn just wants to celebrate in the winner’s circle tomorrow night,” said Force Hood.
Hight was disappointed that his Auto Club Ford Mustang did not perform better on Saturday.
“We thought we could run better. We were shooting for a lot better than what everybody ran this morning. We have to calm it down a little bit. It is greasy out there. NHRA will fix that thing. We are liable to have a different race track tomorrow, one that is better so I am not worried about my car. It will run. It has run good and three of the four runs it ran ohs and nobody else did that. Tomorrow it will basically be noon with the time change you are still going to have track temperatures in the low 90s. You ought to be able to run 4.09 or 4.10 in the morning,” said Hight.
Team leader John Force also struggled to get down the track and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang qualified No. 11. He will face off against nemesis Cruz Pedregon in the first round. The winner of that round will face the Hight versus Force Hood winner.
Mike Neff is alone in the top half of the ladder as the No. 9 qualifier racing No. 8 qualifier and Countdown contender Jack Beckman. Neff is 2-2 versus Beckman with a win in the first round at the Mac Tools US Nationals in their most recent meeting.
In the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks Brittany Force qualified No. 2 in her Brandsource A Fuel Dragster with a solid 5.282 second pass at 26264 mph. and Courtney Force and her Sanyo Supercharged HD A Fuel Dragster landed in the No. 10 spot after running 5.393 seconds at 265.12 mph.
* * * *
Pre-race 10:00 a.m.
Eliminations 11:00 a.m.
JOHN FORCE, 60, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final qualifying: 11th at 4.144 seconds, 293.09 mph
Bonus qualifying points: 0
First Round Opponent: Cruz Pedregon
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Final qualifying: 14th at 4.197 seconds, 292.52 mph
Bonus qualifying points: 0
First Round Opponent: Robert Hight
Quotable: “If Robert wins then I want him to win the race. We want one of us to win this championship. It has come to the end and there are only a handful of rounds left. If it is not going to be our team winning it then I want this Auto Club team to get it.” – ASHLEY FORCE HOOD
ROBERT HIGHT, 40, Auto Club Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 4.065 seconds, 308.71 mph
Bonus qualifying points: +7 (Quickest in Q1, third quickest in Q2 and quickest in Q4)
First Round opponent: Ashley Force Hood
Quotable - “(Racing Ashley in the first round) is definitely a shock. It is not what you would expect. You expect them to qualify well just like our car. You want to meet up in the semis or later. That is what we have been doing. We have raced twice already in the Countdown in the semi-finals. It has not sunk in yet. It is going to be exciting I know that.” - ROBERT HIGHT
MIKE NEFF, 41, Ford Drive One Mustang
Friday qualifying: 9th at 4.128 seconds, 299.66 mph
Bonus qualifying points: 0
First Round Opponent: Jack Beckman
FOLLOW JOHN FORCE RACING AT www.twitter.com/jfr_racing.com