Still when Coughlin won the inaugural Mopar HEMI Shootout in 2004 when it was contested at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, even the 61-time national event winner needed some time to embrace his stunning accomplishment.
Sure Coughlin had a great racer, driving a HEMI-powered Plymouth Barracuda for West Coast Hemis legend Michael Ogburn, but until the race began, Coughlin had never driven the machine and the Shootout had brought out the best drivers from around the world.
The instantly recognizable Super Stockers are some of the most popular and revered muscle cars in this country’s history and the men and women who race them are all top-level professionals, but Coughlin still managed to survive and flourish in the specialty event and take home one of his most cherished Wally trophies ever.
Consistent Start to 2010 Has Jason Meyers Out Front in Pursuit of First World of Outlaws Title
Concord, NC- March 31, 2010- Jason Meyers said before heading to Florida to open the 2010 World of Outlaws season that he didn’t need to set the world on fire in the Sunshine State, but rather was looking to be consistent each night, set a tone for the year and most importantly build a strong foundation for the entire nine month, 70-plus race campaign. He did exactly that, finishing a very solid fourth on opening night with a very stout field of cars in attendance and he wrapped up the stay in Florida with a sixth-place effort to head back west firmly among the Top-Five in the series standings, in the fourth spot, only 19 markers out of the lead. Following a thrilling win at Las Vegas that saw him come all the way from the 18th starting spot to take the victory over 20-time series champion Steve Kinser in an amazing last lap duel, Meyers remained fourth in points, cutting the margin to just 16 points.
A win at his home track of Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California aboard the GLR Investments KPC moved Meyers to within six markers out of the lead following the opener of the two night show, though he was still in the fourth position. He came from eighth to finish second in the finale at Tulare and moved up two spots to second in points, just seven markers behind Joey Saldana. A fourth-place run at Lone Star Speedway in Texas saw Meyers fall one spot in points to third, though he was still just nine markers out of the lead. He finished 10th at Houston Raceway Park the following night to move back into second in points, 23 markers behind Joey Saldana.
Following a seventh-place run in the opener of Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap Presented By Budweiser on March 19, Meyers moved into second in points. A win in the finale of the two-day event vaulted him into the lead in the championship standings for the first time this season and the first time since the spring of 2008. “We’re very pleased with how the season has started and will continue to work very hard,” said Meyers recently. “Once again you have seen the level of competition raised this season. I think there are more teams running very strong than there ever have been. It’s going to be a tough season. We’re off to a good start and we’ll keep digging.”
A couple of unknowns greeted competitors in 2010 with the first of those being the new tires from Goodyear. Meyers seems to have adapted pretty well to the new rubber and is the only driver that has finished in the Top-10 in all nine races this season as he chases his first series title. On top of the string of Top-10 runs, he has an average finish of fourth this season which leads all drivers as well.
They have been a challenge and have been different,” explained the California native of the Goodyear tires. “We knew they would be different, we just didn’t know how. So far they have been ok. They have a lot of different characteristics. Goodyear has been doing a great job in giving us the support we need and we continue to learn more and more with the feedback we have given them. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them.”
The second major change in 2010 was bringing back double file restarts, which the World of Outlaws utilized in the early days of the series long before Meyers climbed aboard a sprint car. He used the double file restarts to his advantage at Las Vegas coming from the 18th starting spot to win, having the benefit of a couple of double file restarts that night to gain valuable positions on restarts.
I’m about 50/50 on that one,” Meyers noted when asked about the double file restarts. “I was a little more to the positive a few weeks ago. So far on the short tracks they haven’t been as good. Hopefully they are good for the fans and that’s why they are doing it, trying to make the racing better for the fans. So far it has somewhat done that. We’ll have to see how it pays off at the short tracks in the weeks to come.”
With a two week break between events, the Elite Racing team which Meyers co-owns along with Chris Luck and Guy Stockbridge is back at their shop in Brownsburg, Indiana preparing for the heart of the World of Outlaws season. The race on April 10 at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma will kick off a stretch of 18 consecutive weekends that the series will be in action. Meyers is looking forward to the schedule picking up soon and is very confident in what he and his team have learned and applied so far this year.
”We’re going to keep working,” stated Meyers. “We’re going to take this time to stock up on some of the things that we have tried this year that have worked for us and work on some other things we been working on. Hopefully we’ll be able to take that time and do a little testing and get prepared for the summer stretch coming up.” \Meyers and the rest of the World of Outlaws return to action on Saturday, April 10 for the inaugural visit to Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma. For more information on that event visit http://www.tri-statespeedway.com and for more information on the World of Outlaws visit http://www.worldofoutlaws.com/sprint.
Force, McClenathan, Edwards and Smith Race to Victory in Inaugural NHRA
Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway
CONCORD, N.C. (March 29, 2010) – John Force continued his resurgence
and made history Monday by racing to victory at the rain-delayed NHRA
Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
It was the second win of the season for the 60-year-old Funny Car
icon, who increased his series points lead to 89 over his rivals. Force, a
14-time world champion who suffered career-threatening injuries in a
spectacular crash in Sept. 2007 in Dallas and endured one of the worst
competitive seasons of his storied career in 2009, has returned to his
familiar position as a championship-challenger this season.
“This is a little taste of history,” Force said. “This was special,
like beating the dragsters at Bristol (2000 Winston Showdown). Thanks to
(zMAX Dragway owners) Bruton and Marcus Smith. They took the money and spent
it to make this happen. The hardest part was racing Ron Capps. He is always
tough and (Matt) Hagan, now that he has (co-crew chief) John Medlen there,
will put the fear into you. My own daughter also leaves nothing on the
table. I’m proud of Ashley. She’s learned the game. This track is so good
that we took wing off of it. I don’t usually run big speed, but it did this
In the four-wide final, Force powered his Castrol GTX High Mileage
Ford Mustang to a 4.036 second run at 316.23 mph to finish ahead of his
daughter, Ashley Force Hood, longtime rival Ron Capps and second-year driver
Matt Hagan. It was Force’s 128th career victory and first at zMAX Dragway.
Runner-up Force Hood set a national speed record at 316.38 mph in her
Castrol GTX Mustang.
Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith
(Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the first NHRA Full Throttle
Drag Racing Series event to featuring racing in four lanes instead of the
Veteran driver McClenathan became the first Top Fuel driver to win a
four-wide race, finishing in front of runner-up Doug Kalitta and
semifinalists Antron Brown and Doug Herbert.
McClenathan, who regained the series points lead with the effort, finished
in 3.820 at 319.60 in his FRAM dragster to earn his 33rd career victory and
second of the season.
“(Crew chiefs) Todd Okuhara, Phil Shuler and the FRAM boys are just
so good this year,” McClenathan said. “They give me what it takes to go out
there and win drag races. We came here with the opinion that we need to be
able to go four-wide, we need to be able to understand the lights, and I had
a certain way that I went about it all weekend long. I kept the same plan
and it worked out for us. I was happy with the whole thing.”
Edwards raced to his third victory of the season and 23rd overall in
Pro Stock, holding off Jason Line, Greg Stanfield and Bob Yonke. Edwards
finished in 6.596 at 210.05 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP
to take his second win at the North Carolina track and first-ever in the
“I’ll tell ya, this four-wide deal is hard on people, but it’s been
a great weekend,” Edwards said. “It was fun; it was confusing a lot of
times, but it was fun. It was different, but you still had to do everything
right. I had a good time, and anytime you can win a race it’s a great time.
This is a great start to hopefully another great season. I feel real blessed
to have won again and thank God and give him all the glory.”
Local-favorite Smith of King, N.C., raced to his first Pro Stock
Motorcycle victory of the season and 11th of his career. He rode his
Al-Anabi Buell to a 6.973 at 189.84 to finish in front of defending world
champ Hector Arana, Steve Johnson and Michael Phillips.
“I love this four wide deal,” Smith said. “I’m glad that NHRA and
Bruton [Smith] did this. It was fun, just like NASCAR having road races. It
was a different atmosphere.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues April 9-11 with
the O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas.
Tickets are now available for PINKS All Out, April 23 and 24, with
reserved seating starting at just $30. Fans can 1-800-455-FANS or shop
online to reserve seats today.
Fans can renew their tickets for the 2011 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
and receive a 10 percent discount through April 30 by calling the zMAX
Dragway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.
Final finish order (1-16) for Full Throttle Series categories at the
inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The race is the fourth
of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
All stats from race and finals :
FORCE WINS DELAYED FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS
CONCORD, NC — After a nearly 24 hour rain delay it only took 4.036 seconds for John Force to win the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord. Severe storms and rain forced the postponement of the final round of the historic event to Monday but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for Force as he hoisted the Wally trophy in the winner’s circle.
“I’d like to personally thank Bruton Smith and his son Marcus because they took money in this economy and they spent it. He deserves that reward. For me to be able to win this first race is big. The hardest part was racing Ron Capps. He is always tough. He is killer on that tree. Racing (Matt) Hagan now that John Medlen is over there will put the fear in you, too and through all of that racing my own daughter. That is the hardest thing. I have to be honest she told me that when she pulls up beside me she doesn’t leave anything on the table. I had to get that attitude,” said Force in the media center.
“Her mother was proud. I joke about her mom beating me up but she even said to me not bad for an old guy. Your daughter was right out the window. I am just really proud of Ashley because she is learning the game and I know the pressure. My old knees were knocking and I have been doing this for 33 years.”
“I also really want to thank my sponsors. For three years now I have struggled. They were paying me big money. Castrol, Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools, and Ford signing me to a five year deal. I want to clarify what I said on TV. I said some of my other sponsors are pushing me out. I didn’t mean they were pushing me out of the seat I meant they were trying to push my contracts out more years. In this economy that is so important. At the end of the day I am having Ashley car come up into the winners circle because we do this as a team. We have to race against each other on Sundays we delivered for the fans, for the NHRA and for Bruton Smith.”
The win continued an impressive streak of specialty race wins for John Force and John Force Racing. Force opened the season winning the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals. He also won the Winston Showdown Top Fuel vs. Funny Car Invitational at Bristol Dragway in 1999 as well as the 50th anniversary NHRA specialty race in Pomona. This is Force’s 128th national event win and his second of the season. Force has reached three final rounds in the first four races of the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing season. John Force’s teammate Gary Densham won the 50th annual Mac Tools US Nationals in 2004
“It is just a little taste of history. I gave the comparison of Shirl Greer who was the first Funny car championship. We recently lost Shirl and there will only be one first champion. I hear about that wherever I go whether it is shows or events. This is special like beating the dragsters at another one of Bruton’s races at Bristol. The biggest thing for me is the money that Bruton Smith has invested in this sport is that NHRA gave him the chance to run four lanes. I don’t know how it is going to play out. There are a lot of positives and negatives. We have to see what the fan response is. What ESPN thinks. How the racers feel. How the NHRA and Bruton feel.”
Force leaves the “Bellagio of Drag Strips” with the points lead and a lot of confidence in himself and his entire John Force Racing operation thanks to the strong runner-up finish by daughter Ashley Force Hood on Monday. Ashley’s final round result of 4.042 seconds at 316.38 mph set the national speed record and moved her into the No. 5 position in the Full Throttle point standings. The JFR tandem out ran the Don Schumacher pairing of Ron Capps (4.088 at 306.33 mph) and Matt Hagan (6.736 at 105.27 mph).
Force Hood was filled with mixed emotions at the top end not because she lost to her father but rather because she had no idea where she stood in the final standings.
“I was frustrated at the top end only because I was confused. The light came on in my lane and no one was talking to me at all on the radio. I got out and the first person I yelled at was my husband. I was like, ‘Dan you guys have a radio up there you need to tell me something.’ I got out thinking I won and totally confused,” said Force Hood.
“I was the final car to pull up (on the starting line) so I didn’t know who was in which lane. I was very thankful to see him (John Force) with a crowd around him. I figured he must have won. In the big picture it is more important that we were consistent and the two of us were able to come out on top over the two Schumacher teams.”
“Our teams were pumped about that. My team was happy we were able to make such a good run. That was one of the best runs I have ever made. I have run a 4.04 before but I rolled in on that run. It probably would have had a better ET and been one of our best runs ever since the 1000 ft. We are really excited about our speeds. I think the biggest thing about leaving this weekend with a car where we wanted it. We have all our parts and pieces together and we can get back and be focused on this championship.”
Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Mustang team will head to Houston Raceway Park as the defending event winner.
“It felt good to get our car back. It has been really consistent this weekend. We haven’t gone a lot of rounds this year so to get to the final here was big especially considering everything that was going on this weekend. We were really excited to maneuver our way through all the competitors and get to race against dad and two of the Schumacher cars. You have two top teams battling it out against each other. I think the new day brought us all new challenges for everybody. We were able to figure ours out,” said Force Hood.For 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is an event he is glad to have in this proverbial rearview mirror.
Hight lost half his 8,000 horsepower early in the run when four cylinders briefly misfired. However, when three of the four uncooperative cylinders re-fired, the 14-time tour winner still thought he might be okay. Unfortunately the damage already had been done. The Auto Club Ford had already moved to the left of the desired racing groove and crew chief Jimmy Prock’s supposition is that as it drifted nearer the centerline, the left tire began to spin while the right tire continued to track forward. That shot the blue-and-white Mustang across the centerline and into the path of the Toyota of Jeff Arend. The two cars came together as Hight’s Mustang slowed and Arend’s brushed past him in the left side.Although the damage was confined primarily to the carbon fiber bodies and the headers, it was an unexpectedly early end of the day for both drivers.
Fantastic Start to 2010 for the World of Outlaws: Great Racing & Big Crowds Highlight First Nine Races of the Season
Concord, NC-March 29, 2010- With nine races in the books for the World of Outlaws in 2010, the season is shaping up to be another of the best in series history, following the closest-ever three-way points race in 2009, that saw Donny Schatz edge Jason Meyers by a mere 19 markers with Joey Saldana who led the series in wins third. With the level of competition at an all-time high, every single lap over the course of the 70-plus race season is important from the drop of the first green flag at Volusia in February until the final checkered flag is waved at Charlotte in November.
Just five points separate current championship point leader Jason Meyers and 20-time series titlist Steve Kinser, with Joey Saldana in third only 20 markers out of the lead, while four-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz is fourth, 57 points back, with Jason Sides rounding out the Top-Five, just a single marker behind Schatz. All five of the drivers at the top of the standings have won thus far in 2010. Each of the Top-Four drivers in points have sat atop the championship standings already this season, with six different drivers having visited Victory Lane, while 11 drivers have led laps in feature events. There have been 13 lead changes so far in 2010 and in one of the most memorable races in series history at Las Vegas before a huge crowd Jason Meyers came all the way from the 18th starting spot to win in a last lap thriller over Steve Kinser by just 0.237 second.
Four times thus far in 2010, the margin of victory has been less than a second, with Jason Sides edging Tim Kaeding by a mere 0.160 seconds at Houston Raceway Park on March 13 in the closest race of the season, which saw the pair trade countless slide jobs over the course of the 40-lap contest at the ¼-mile.
“The racing I feel has been really good this year,” said Joey Saldana, who has won twice and is currently third in points. “Not only have the tires made it better, but the double file restarts have definitely made it more interesting. So far so good. It’s been a great season. The World of Outlaws have a great program and something great for the fans to see.”
One of the biggest changes heading into 2010 was the implementation of double file restarts, a concept that the World of Outlaws pioneered during the early days of the season. The leader has the choice on the double file restarts to choose which line they want to restart in, with both the low line and high line having been chosen a number of times so far this season.
“Hopefully they are good for the fans and that’s why they are doing it, trying to make the racing better for the fans,” shared current point leader Jason Meyers of the double file restarts. “So far it has somewhat done that. We’ll have to see how it pays off at the short tracks in the weeks to come.”
The other big change this season was the switch to Goodyear tires, and most of the drivers have gotten up to speed quick on the new rubber and have been very welcoming of the change. Goodyear brought several incentives to the series in 2010 including a $55,000 midseason point fund that will be distributed to full-time World of Outlaws drivers that have Goodyear rubber bolted on all four tires after the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup Twins at Lernerville Speedway in July.
“The tires have been great,” noted Saldana. “I think it was a great change and an easy transition. Goodyear did a great job making both rear tires harder and making the racing better.” A total of 23 drivers have scored at least one Top-10 finish this season in World of Outlaws action, with 15 of those having scored at least one Top-Five finish. There has been 69 drivers compete with the series thus far in 2010 through March 20. The largest lead any driver has had in the standings was after the opener of Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap Presented By Budweiser at Volunteer Speedway on March 19 when Joey Saldana was up by 27 points. The difference between the leader and second-place in points has been in single digits six times this season as well as there being a tie after the first race at Tulare on March 5, which saw Tony Stewart Racing teammates Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz share the top spot for a race.
The World of Outlaws return to action on Saturday, April 10 with an inaugural event at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma, followed by a trip to Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky on Friday, April 16 and I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri on Saturday, April 17.
By the Numbers: 2010 World of Outlaws Season through March 20
0.160- Margin of Victory for Jason Sides over Tim Kaeding at Houston Raceway Park on March 13, the closest finish of the season
1- Driver that has finished in the Top-10 in all nine races this season- Jason Meyers
2- Drivers competing for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season
3- Track records established in time trials this year; Drivers that have won four heat races this season- Sam Hafertepe Jr, Jac Haudenschild & Joey Saldana
4- Times in 2010 that the Margin of Victory has been less than one second; Average finishing position for Jason Meyers to lead all drivers
5- Points that separate current leader Jason Meyers and Steve Kinser in the championship standings
6- Drivers that have won A-Feature events in 2010; Tracks the World of Outlaws have raced at so far this season
7- Drivers that have been quickest in time trials this season; Top-Five finishes for Steve Kinser and Joey Saldana in 2010 to lead all drivers
8- Drivers that have won a dash this season to earn a pole position in a main event; Drivers that have earned the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award this season
9- A-Feature events completed through March 20
11- Drivers that have led laps in A-Feature events
13- Lead changes so far in 2010 in main events
17- Bonus points earned in time trials by Jason Sides to lead all drivers through March 20
18- Drivers competing full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2010
58- Points that currently separate the Top-Five in the series standings
69- Drivers that have raced at least once with the World of Outlaws this season
71- Laps led by Joey Saldana in feature events this season to lead all drivers
300- Laps of A-Feature competition contested this season through March 20
1293- Points earned by Jason Meyers to lead the series
46,800- Dollars earned by Jason Meyers to lead the series
NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Postponed to Monday
CONCORD, N.C. (March 28, 2010) – Rain has postponed the action at
the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway to Monday.
Spectator gates will open at 9 a.m. Monday, with Sportsman
eliminations beginning at 10 a.m. and Nitro Top Fuel and Funny Car finals at
11 a.m. Following the Nitro finals, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle
eliminations will resume with round two. The finals in the Pro Stock
categories are scheduled for noon.
All Sunday tickets will be good for admission to Monday’s action. In
addition, discounted $10 adult tickets will be sold at the gate for
admission to the abbreviated show. Children under 12 will be admitted free
with a paying adult.
Squirrely track sends top qualifier Coughlin home early
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 28) — Top qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. was marching away from all three of his first-round opponents early Sunday afternoon when his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt suddenly began skating around the racing surface of zMax Dragway. The problem was so severe that the four-time Pro Stock champion was forced to get off the accelerator and surrender his chance at advancing at the inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.
“We can’t buy a round win this year,” Coughlin lamented. “It got loose down track and I reached a point where I needed to lift or go over onto the roof.
“I had a good light (.036) and had three, four hundredths on the others but going through fourth gear I felt the car getting loose. I tried coaxing it into the groove because I couldn’t let it get too far away from me but it was just loose no matter where I went.”
Instead of marching away for an easy win, Coughlin got off the gas and watched Bob Yonke and Rodger Brogdon advance from his foursome. Yonke went 6.603 at 209.36 mph, while Brogdon ran a 6.659 at 208.84 mph. Brogdon rents motors from Coughlin’s team owner, Victor Cagnazzi. Coughlin’s official time was a 6.913 at 174.23 mph.
“We had a great weekend going and there’s certainly lots to be excited about if you stand back and look at the program as a whole,” said Coughlin, a 48-time winner in the class. “We actually were loose in three of the four runs we made in qualifying so it wasn’t a big surprise for it to happen today. It was just one of those things.
“I’m proud of the team and the work they’ve put in to get this car on top of the class. Being No. 1 qualifier against the likes of Mike Edwards and the other frontrunners is exciting. Mike had been No. 1 qualifier at 12 straight races so to get around him says a lot about the guys back at the shop putting in all those long hours.”
The Full Throttle Drag Racing Series takes Easter weekend off and returns to action April 9-11 with the 23rd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. Coughlin is a three-time winner at the Southeast Texas speedplant, having won titles there in 1997, 1998, and 2000.
2010 FORMULA 1 QANTAS AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
HIGHT GRABS 34TH CAREER NO. 1 AT 4-WIDE NATIONALS
CONCORD, NC — Robert Hight will lead John Force Racing into Sunday’s historic elimination round at the Inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals from the No. 1 qualifying spot for the 34th time in his career. This will be the first time that Hight has had the top spot at Bruton Smith’s zMax Dragway making it the 17th different track he has achieved this feat. He is still in position to set a national record based on his 4.024 second qualifying run. The conditions today were ideal for a run at the record but a delay in the first qualifying session pushed Hight’s run back into the warmer part of Saturday.
“The first run today we were honestly trying to run like we did last night and try to set a national record. It was such a delay that it just didn’t happen. We were too far into the day. If we could have run on time there might have been a chance. I am excited about tomorrow. Tonight we had a fairly decent run. It still hurt the engine but this whole deal about the four wide I don’t even want to know who I am racing tomorrow,” said Hight.
“I told my guys that is something I don’t even want to think about. When you are staging you don’t want to think about who is in what lane. All it is; is go up there and see the amber and step. I don’t want to know who I am racing and be thinking, ‘Well is this guy coming in or what?’ Forget that. Conditions are supposed to be good tomorrow. It will be cool and that national record is still out there. Of course it is still out there for everybody else. There are a lot of good cars here. Ashley (Force Hood) did a great job running 4.06 that last session being low.”
With four lanes to pick from Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock will have some discussions about where to start their race day. Hight has a favorite lane but he will defer to the brain trust.
“Probably that far right lane. We ran 4.02 last night in it. It is putting up some good numbers. (Jack) Beckman just ran good in the left (lane No. 1). Ashley ran good in the third lane (Lane No. 3). I don’t think it matters. One thing about it is we do have lane choice so hopefully you don’t get confused picking which lane you want,” said Hight. “Jimmy Prock will pick. We also have (track specialist) Lanny Miglizzi with us now. We’ll leave that up to him. He is sharp and he has been out here for the last four or five days working on getting to know this race track. He’ll help Jimmy pick the correct lane.”
The first qualifying session was delayed after a spectacular pair of explosions in first quartet of Funny Cars. In lane No. 3 Jeff Diehl’s Rimz One Monte Carlo blew the body off at half track sending the carbon fiber shell soaring. Less than a second later at ¾ track Matt Hagan’s DieHard Charger shattered into multiple pieces in a fiery explosion. Hagan battled for control of his crippled chassis maintaining control and coming to a stop past the finish line. Hagan and Diehl both exited their Funny Cars under their own power. Hagan took the brunt of abuse on his hands and a few scrapes on his face. He rallied to make a run in the final session.
“Like I said yesterday NHRA has done their homework. They have done an outstanding job down there. You would think with this news system and four cars there would be problems but they have done their homework. It is very organized. There is no confusion. From start to finish they have done a great job. They did the best they could with the Tree. My hat is off to them. You saw how they responded to the two cars blowing up. That gives me confidence because you never know with these fuel cars what is going to happen,” said a confident Hight.
Ashley Force Hood made the best pass of the final qualifying session covering the 1000 ft. race course in 4.062 seconds at 314.62 mph. The run moved her up to the No. 4 qualifying position and gave her a nice boost of confidence going into eliminations tomorrow.
“We made a good run to end the day and I think tomorrow will be a big old mess,” joked Force Hood.
“Truthfully I think it will be fine but I think there could be some things that go wrong and you hope people don’t get too frustrated. It is one thing added on top of these very difficult cars to run. At least going into it we ran good. Tomorrow the conditions should be similar if it doesn’t rain. We’ll just go out there and do the best we can. The whole staging thing will be up a notch because now your reaction times are going to be pretty crucial. We are just going to stay focused. I just want to do my routine and hopefully everything will work out.”
As far as a favorite lane for the 2007 Rookie of the Year and defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals champion, she has a preference but nothing carved in stone.
“My favorite (lane) is still lane No. 4. It was the first run we made and my Castrol GTX Mustang ran really well. I do like being on a side. It is a little strange to be in the center. In the outer lane it seems the most similar to what we are used to racing. We made a good run in No. 4. I don’t know if that is a better lane but my comfort level will be in whatever lane my crew chiefs pick,” said Force Hood.
John Force ended the day as the No. 6 qualifier but the number that captured his interest today was five as in five more years with Ford as a major backer. Force and Ford executives announced the news today between rounds in the zMax Dragway media center. The agreement will keep John Force Racing under the Blue Oval umbrella through the 2014 season.
“This extension means a lot to all of us at John Force Racing,” said Force. “We’ve had a great relationship with Ford since we switched over in 1997, winning lots of races and championships in that time. But, more importantly, we found a willing partner that wanted to work with us to help take the sport forward, in terms of engine and chassis development, and also in terms of safety for all competitors.
“This new ‘One Ford’ approach we are all taking will allow some of the great development work done by Ford and JFR to help more of the Ford teams going forward.”