TEAM JFR QUALIFYING REPORT
2009 NHRA Thursday Qualifying Summary
6th and final race of the NHRA Countdown to 1
Last race of the NHRA Full Throttle Series
45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Nov. 12-15, 2009
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HIGHT CONTINUES DOMINANT WAYS, PROV. NO. 1 AT POMONA
POMONA, CA –- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang picked up right where they left off after winning the 9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals two weeks ago. The Jimmy Prock tuned Mustang blasted to the top of the field on Thursday at the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals running an impressive 4.093 seconds at over 309 mph. Hight was ready to get onto the track and start racing after having to sit out an open weekend.
“This last week and a half has gone by so slow from Vegas. We want to get out here and get going. We are focused. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and the whole team are so focused. We are not going to let our guard down and act like we have this sewn up. That is when you make mistakes and things happen. That run was huge. I am pretty sure that 4.09 we just ran will qualify. It should stay in the show,” said Hight.
“That is the first step. Now that that is done you look at the conditions tomorrow for Funny Cars because we will be last and clear at the back. It will be later and cooler. We can really try and run hard. We could run a mid to low oh and be close for a back-up on a record. That is what the others are going to need to get us for the championship. If we can get that record that is what we are shooting for.”
Hight entered the race with a 105 point lead over second place Ashley Force Hood. He added three more bonus points for his Thursday qualifying effort to move to 108 up on Force Hood. Hight and the entire John Force racing organization received a pep talk yesterday at the Yorba Linda shop. The significance of the moment was not lost on Hight and the rest of his team.
“John Force put us all together yesterday and pulled up some old videos of him winning his first championship and showed Jimmy back in 1992 when he came so close with Cory Mac in his rookie season. It didn’t happen for them (Prock and McClenathan missed the Top Fuel championship by nine points in 1992). John just wanted to show us you guys have wanted this forever and we need to stay with it. We need to stay focused. This is what we have worked for. We’ve earned it and we deserve it. It is not over yet. He wants us to get out there and work hard but have some fun. That is what we are doing now,” said the provisional number one.
Hight is in front of teammate Mike Neff on the provisional sheet and Neff is pleased with the improvement of his Ford Drive One Mustang. His team stayed after the Las Vegas event and tested. They exceeded their testing limit and will not earn points this weekend by Neff felt that information was more important that points as they figure out the new JFR chassis heading into 2010.
“The chassis has been working fine ever since started running the car. It is just the clutch and the clutch management. We tested that in Las Vegas and we got some stuff figured out. We are still kind of guessing a little since we only have one or two runs with all the stuff changed around. We took our best guess and came pretty close. We feel good and we are happy to get a solid run down the track. Now we have something to look at and build off of. We are still kind of tiptoeing our way through it at this point,” said Neff.
“Our set-up is pretty much like the other cars (Hight, Force and Force Hood) as far as the clutch management system. Every car is different all the flow system settings are different. There are some subtle differences here and there. It is not as easy as just duplicating it. We have something to look at so we are going to take it one run at a time.”
Making a strong run on Thursday gives Neff and his team a lot of confidence to attack the track over the next three sessions. They are still looking for their first win and they know that they can make strides this weekend towards that goal.
“It is very crucial to get down the track on that first run so you are on the offense from that point on. If you smoke the tires then you are on the defensive and you start out a little behind the eight ball. Guys that make it down the track with a good solid run definitely have an advantage,” said Neff.
Neff made is first qualifying run beside his boss and 14-time Funny Car champion John Force. They made one of the best side by side runs of the session with Neff’s 4.137 at 300 mph pass bettering Force’s 4.165 at 303.97. Force landed in the provisional no. 6 spot.
Finally, Ashley Force Hood made the eighth quickest pass of the day covering the 1,000 ft. track in 4.211 seconds at 290.88 mph. The 2007 rookie of the year and No. 2 Funny Car driver in points will have three more shots at improving. Her Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas tuned Castrol GTX Mustang cannot be counted out with cooler conditions expected for tomorrows lone session.
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Friday, Nov. 13
Pro Qualifying: 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 14
Pro Qualifying: 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 15
Pre-race ceremonies 10:00 a.m.
Final eliminations 11:00 a.m.
JOHN FORCE, 60, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Thursday qualifying: 6th at 4.165 seconds, 303.97 mph
Bonus qualifying points: 0
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Thursday qualifying: 8th 4.211 seconds, 290.88 mph
Bonus qualifying points: 0
ROBERT HIGHT, 40, Auto Club Ford Mustang
Thursday Qualifying: 1st at 4.093 seconds, 309.34 mph
Bonus qualifying points: +3 (Quickest in Q1)
Quotable - “Jimmy Prock just knows what he is doing right now. He has a good handle on this race car. His confidence is what I am feeding off of right now. As a driver I can see it. He knows what this thing is going to run and he knows it will run well. I can go out there and do my job. It is just working out perfectly right now.” - ROBERT HIGHT
MIKE NEFF, 41, Ford Drive One Mustang
Thursday qualifying: 2nd at 4.137 seconds, 300.00 mph
Bonus qualifying points: +2 (Second quickest in Q1)
Quotable: “It is very crucial to get down the track on that first run so you are on the offense from that point on. If you smoke the tires then you are on the defensive and you start out a little behind the eight ball. Guys that make it down the track with a good solid run definitely have an advantage.” – MIKE NEFF
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