TEAM JFR QUALIFYING REPORT
2012 NHRA Final Qualifying Summary
6th of 23 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Series
25th annual NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals
Royal Purple Raceway
April 27-29, 2012
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HIGHT, NEFF IMPROVE ON SATURDAY AT HOUSTON
C. FORCE VS. DEJORIA HIGHLIGHT 1ST RND MATCH-UPS
HOUSTON, TX --- Robert Hight improved his position and Mike Neff raced into the show today but all eyes will be on the Courtney Force versus Alexis DeJoria first round match-up of Rookie of the Year candidates. Robert Hight and his Auto Club Mustang made the quickest run of the third qualifying session posting a time of 4.140 at 309.56. It was the quickest ET of the day and moved Hight into the No. 6 qualifying spot and into an opening round race against former teammate Tony Pedregon.
“We made one good run today- the best run of the day. That was cool, but we were hoping to get another one in. We were trying pretty hard that last run. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock thought that we could step it up and maybe move up three of four positions. It would have taken less than a hundredth to do that, so first run looked safe and second wasn’t. We overdid it; we overpowered it tonight, but sometimes that’s a good thing; you know your limits,” said Hight.
“There are no easy ones (match-ups). Tony Pedregon made a nice run tonight. Great driver, good team. If we get our fifth tomorrow, we’re definitely going to have earned it, because if we run him and get past him, there’s going to be someone else that’s just as tough or tougher. We’ll just take it one run at a time and see what happens.”
Mike Neff was on the outside looking in until the final qualifying session. His Castrol GTX Ford Mustang raced down the right lane in his last chance effort and his time of 4.166 was the second quickest of the session. The only Funny Car quicker was Ron Capps with a 4.161 second ET. Neff will race veteran driver and friend Jim Head in the first round.
“We struggled the first few runs in qualifying. Definitely never a good situation going up there for the fourth and final session knowing you’re not in the show yet. There are so many things that could happen,” said Neff, who is No.2 in the Full Throttle Funny Car points. “It’s just hard on everyone’s nerves. We were definitely fortunate to make a good run there and get ourselves in the show. It really was a good pass and shot us up to the middle of the pack. I feel like we’re right back in it and have a good chance for tomorrow.”
Already this season Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria have been paired up at a number of media events from Pomona to Charlotte to this week in Houston. They have never raced each other in competition however and that will change tomorrow. These two high profile rookie of the year candidates are looking forward to running side by side in front of an expected capacity crowd at Royal Purple Raceway.
Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang ran 4.151 seconds on Friday, good enough for the No. 7 qualifying position and lane choice over DeJoria. Today her Funny Car smoked the tires both sessions on an increasingly hot track while DeJoria made consistent passes both sessions.
“First round I was in the right lane. It got a little out of the groove and it spun the tires. Second round today it was going down; I kept it in the groove and kept it straight. We just needed to make a few minor changes on the car to get the tune-up right. It was getting down there, it was going great, it was on a good run, it just decided it wanted to disagree with the race track and spin the tires at the other end so we didn’t get a great run out of qualifying today, but we did get a 4.15 and hopefully we can use that to our advantage tomorrow,” said Force.
“We do have lane choice, which is a good thing. I’m excited. I think it will be fun. I wish we had a little more consistency right now, but I have a lot of faith in my team and I know that even with a couple downfalls in qualifying we will get it together and I know my Traxxas crew members will get this car back running. We’ll be okay.”
“We have Alexis DeJoria first round which I’m excited about; two females in the first round. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a fun race. We both have pretty good cars. She definitely has a consistent car so she has that advantage right now over me. I did run a 4.15, but that was in some cool conditions. Hopefully we can get our Traxxas Mustang Funny Car from A to B. It doesn’t matter what the number is. I just hope we can get to the other end without spinning the tires and hopefully we’ll get a win out of it.”
Finally, team leader John Force will go into race day as the No. 14 qualifier and will race fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III. Force’s program has been steadily improving since a final round appearance at the 3rd round NHRA Four Wide Nationals two weeks ago. The 15-time Funny Car champion who won his 100th career national event at Royal Purple Raceway will be trying to advance his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang and hold onto his top ten position.
“We made the show. That’s’ what we’re paid to do. We got a couple cars running good enough to win so we’ll see what happens. I gotta get mine and Courtney’s fixed,” said Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“I think the (Courtney versus Alexis race) will be exciting. The fans will like to young girls running each other. I know they will be pumped up. It will be a fun race.”
With his 80th consecutive qualifying effort Force now has the longest active qualifying Funny Car streak after Jack Beckman failed to make the field in his Valvoline backed Dodge Charger. Force has the all-time qualifying streak record at 395 races from the first race of 1988 until the spring race of 2007 at Las Vegas, a record that spanned 20 seasons.
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JOHN FORCE, 62, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 14th at 4.212 seconds, 296.05 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Bob Tasca III (6-7)
MIKE NEFF, 45, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 9th at 4.166 seconds, 306.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Jim Head (8-0)
ROBERT HIGHT, 42, AAA Texas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 6th at 4.140 seconds, 309.56 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q3)
First round opponent (W-L): Tony Pedregon (7-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 23, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 7th at 4.150 seconds, 306.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
First round opponent (W-L): Alexis DeJoria (0-0)
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Sunday, April 29
Final Eliminations 11 a.m.