TWO GENERATIONS REPRESENT JOHN FORCE RACING AT ANNUAL SEMA SHOW NHRA BREAKFAST
The father/daughter duo of John and Courtney Force will be one of four families featured at the event
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31, 2011) – The annual NHRA Breakfast at the SEMA show will highlight several of drag racing’s well respected and valued members of the drag racing community. This year’s breakfast will pay tribute to NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing family role models of the past, present and future.
The NHRA Breakfast at the SEMA Show will take place Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Las Vegas Hilton Ballrooms A&B. The NHRA Breakfast is open to all registered SEMA Show attendees and a continental breakfast will be served. Longtime NHRA announcer Bob Frey will emcee the NHRA Breakfast again this year.
Three out of the four Professional categories will be represented at the event. This collection of racers will include John and Courtney Force (Funny Car); Bob Tasca and Bob Tasca III (Funny Car); LE, GT and Gary Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle); Jeg Coughlin Sr. and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock Car).
Throughout this season Courtney has been testing her BrandSource Ford Mustang after select NHRA national events. She has improved with each test session and the youngest Force is excited to continue to grow her fan-base and improve behind the wheel.
“I’m really honored to be a part of the NHRA Breakfast and I’m very excited to go to the SEMA show. I get to be next to my dad and all of the mostly father/son duos from out here and all the different generations of drivers. I’m honored to be a part of that. Getting to be there with my dad and all of the drivers makes me really excited. We get to go out a sign autographs and meet the fans afterward so I can’t wait,” said Courtney Force.
In 2010, John Force won his 15th NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series Funny Car world championship, the most of any other driver in NHRA history. He posted a category-high six wins in 11 final round appearances and raced to two wins in four final round appearances in the Countdown to the Championship.
“The NHRA is a family sport and I have been lucky to have my family out here recently racing in a number of classes,” said the proud father. “My daughters Ashley, Brittany and Courtney have all come up through the ranks. My oldest daughter Adria runs my company in Yorba Linda with my son-in-law Robert Hight. I always tell people when I am on the road my fans are like a family but nothing beats having your daughters at the track.”
Tickets are still available for this event. Get your tickets now at www.SEMAShow.com/register
HIGHT’S CREW HEADLINES NOMINEES FOR
NHRA FULL THROTTLE HARD WORKING CREW
YORBA LINDA, CA (October 31, 2011) — The Auto Club Mustang Funny Car crew led by crew chief Jimmy Prock has been nominated as one of four finalists for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Hard Working Crew Award in the Funny Car category.
At each of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series national events during the 2011 season, the diligence and extra effort of crewmembers on NHRA teams was saluted with the NHRA Full Throttle Hardworking Crew Award.
Robert Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang crew was recognized for their outstanding effort in Topeka earlier this year when one of the crewmen was injured and they persevered to go on to win the race, which was John Force Racing’s 200th Funny Car win.
“I could not be prouder of my guys every race but they really stepped up in Topeka. When Shafty (team leader David Karcanes) got hurt we did not miss a beat. Everyone pulled together and we went on to win the race which was a historic win for John Force Racing,” said Hight, a former crewman himself.
“I worked on John Force’s Funny Car for a number of years so I know the hours and hours of hard work behind the scenes that goes into getting one of these Funny Cars to make a good run much less get it into the winner’s circle. I would like to thank Full Throttle for recognizing not just my guys but also all the crews in the other classes as well,” added Hight.
Online voting will begin the Monday after the NHRA Big O Tires Nationals and conclude the Monday after the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. NHRA Full Throttle Hardworking Crew Award of the Year winners will be honored in each of the four classes at the season-ending awards ceremony. Fans can visit http://www.nhra.com/hardworkingcrew/ to cast their vote for Hight’s team as well as the nominees in the Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories
Final round results from Sunday’s 11th annual NHRA Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, fifth race of the Countdown to Championship in 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
FUNNY CAR – Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Dodge Charger, 4.109, 311.34 mph def. Johnny Gray, Artesia, NM, Service Central Dodge Charger, 4.203, 295.08 mph.
TOP FUEL – Del Worsham, Chino Hills, Calif., Al-Anabi dragster, 3.823, 318.77 mph def. Spencer Massey, Ft. Worth, Tex., FRAM dragster, 3.834, 323.74 mph.
PRO STOCK – Mike Edwards, Coweta, OK, Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac, 6.641, 208.30 mph def. Allen Johnson, Greenville, Tenn., MOPAR Dodge Avenger, 6.668, 208.01 mph.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE – Eddie Krawiec, Brownsburg, Ind., Harley Davidson, 6.936, 194.30 mph def. Andrew Hines, Brownsburg, Ind., Harley Davidson, 6.995, 192.96 mph.
TIGHT COUNTDOWN BATTLE AWAITS JFR IN POMONA
LAS VEGAS, NV — On Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Mike Neff and Robert Hight stumbled in their Full Throttle Funny Car championship pursuit dropping their respective first round match-ups. They did not however throw in the towel on their championship aspirations. The other three drivers in the championship battle did not capitalize on an opportunity to extend their respective leads. Both drivers took solace in the fact that their boss and team leader, John Force, overcame overwhelming odds last year to win his unprecedented 15th Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
Hight will have the toughest battle in Pomona trying to track down four drivers and overcoming a 71 point deficit. For Neff the point deficit is much more manageable only 34 points or less than two rounds. This is the same size deficit Neff overcame when he tuned Force to the championship.
“That was a tough loss. I am not going to let one round loss ruin my season. We have won five races this season and we are still in this championship chase,” said Neff, the season-long points leader. “No one here is hanging their heads. John (Force) just had a team meeting telling us he was proud of everyone in the organization and I believe that. We made all the right calls.”
“Our Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran great all weekend and that is what you want to take away. We aren’t looking for problems. I know what I need to do. Sure we will need some help these next couple of rounds,” added Neff after the first round exit. “The good news is the guys in front of us are all on the same side of the ladder.”
“We got some help from some of the guys behind us and we have a manageable deficit. We will be ready for Pomona and that will be an exciting race,” concluded Neff.
For Hight Las Vegas continued to be a track that could be feast or famine for the former crewman. In 2008 Hight broke on the burnout in the first round extinguishing his championship hopes. In 2009 a win at the 9th annual Big O Tires Nationals essentially wrapped up his first Full Throttle Championship.
This weekend Hight felt that his Auto Club Ford Mustang was primed and ready to go rounds today. That was not the case as he was outrun by Tony Pedregon in the first round.
“That really took me by surprise. We have been running pretty well. It hasn’t been shaking but I guess the gremlin is back,” said a frustrated Hight at the top end. “All I can say is it ain’t over until it is over. You look at the Cardinals the other night and you see how they played in that game 6. They never gave up and they never quit digging. All I can say is I hope my Ford teammates do their job today. Good luck guys.”
John Force continued to struggle against Jack Beckman losing for the seventh time in a row to the former drag racing instructor. In today’s match-up Force was running with Beckman until his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang shook the tires and made a sharp move towards the centerline at about 700 feet.
As soon as the teams were back in the pits Force immediately pulled all his drivers, crew chiefs, and crew members into the Castrol Technology Center to make sure they were focused on the task at hand.
“I told my guys I had to overcome a big point lead last year. We did it and we won the championship. Mike and Robert are still in this until they tell me we can’t get any more points. We win together and we lose together,” said the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“All our sponsors, Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Mac Tools and BrandSource are sticking with us. This thing is not over. We are proud of the wins we have had this season and we are going to try and get one more win in Pomona and get another championship. Robert and Mike have won five races each so far and they ran great this weekend. I am going to test tomorrow because I am not going to just give up. I am planning on helping Neff or Robert win this championship.”
The final race of the season, the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Nationals will be contested in two weeks. JFR has won that race thirteen times including last year’s win by Force.
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NEFF, HIGHT LEAD JFR INTO LAS VEGAS ELIMINATIONS
LAS VEGAS, NV — If history is a barometer tomorrow will be an epic day for the Funny Car category at the 11th annual NHRA Big O Tires Nationals. The winner of this event in the Funny Car class has gone on to win the Full Throttle Championship the past four years. Today’s qualifying results show that two John Force Racing drivers could put themselves in the driver’s seat for championship runs. Mike Neff and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang picked up bonus qualifying points in both sessions and Robert Hight picked up points in the first session of the day to go with his great run on Friday night.
Neff will go into Sunday’s eliminations rounds at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the No. 2 qualifier and Hight as the No. 3 qualifier.
“So far so good for the Castrol team here at The Strip. We made three out of four good runs, were able to qualify number two and pick up some of those valuable bonus points,” said Neff, the season-long points leader. “At the stage of the game were in right now, every point counts, but the biggest thing here is the car is responding, it’s been running well and we definitely feel good about going into tomorrow.”
Neff picked up enough bonus points to gain a round on the two drivers in front of him Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman. Neff entered the race two rounds behind the Dodges and will go into Sunday only one round, actually 14 and 13 points, respectively behind Hagan and Beckman.
Neff is 1-0 versus his first round opponent Paul Lee who races for Drag Racing Hall of Famer Jim Dunn.
Robert Hight was the provisional No. 1 qualifier and had a shot to regain the top spot from Ron Capps in the final session but a powerful Jimmy Prock tune-up in optimal conditions equaled tire smoke at half track for the Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight was not worried going into Sunday because Prock has a handle on his Mustang.
“I am hugely fired up about going into tomorrow. It is not a mystery why my Auto Club Ford Mustang smoked the tires. Jimmy knows what he did and what he needs to fix. It is not like we are having to figure out tomorrow what we need to do to make it through the shake zone or anything else,” said the 2009 Big O Tires Nationals winner. “Even the run this morning Jimmy thought he could have made run quicker. The same thing with the run last night, he could have made it run quicker. It is friendly and smooth.”
Hight’s five bonus closed the gap on Cruz Pedregon and Jack Beckman tightening up the points chase even more.
“We gained a few points on Cruz and some of these guys. It has been a long time since I have gotten bonus points two runs in a row in qualifying. I haven’t looked at the ladder because I don’t need to look at it. I just have to take it one round at a time. I’ll get up there and focus and my first goal is to win the first round,” said Hight.
Hight will face Tony Pedregon in the first round. This is the first time Hight has faced his former teammate in 2011. He is 7-14 versus the 2-time Funny Car champion.
In the most dramatic run of the day for John Force Racing, team leader John Force raced from the outside of the field to just about the top with an opening finals qualifying session run of 4.118 seconds. At the time he landed in the No. 4 position but five drivers also took advantage of improved conditions and ran quicker than Force. The winningest driver in NHRA history will go into eliminations as the No. 9 qualifier and will race his latest nemesis Jack Beckman in the first round. Force has dropped the last six meetings in a row against Beckman.
With all three John Force Racing Ford Mustangs in separate quadrants of the ladder JFR could advance three Funny Cars to the semi-finals and ultimately an all JFR final could ensue. The last all JFR final was Topeka of this year with Hight edging out Neff for the win.
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JOHN FORCE, 62, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 9th at 4.118 seconds, 312.57 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Jack Beckman (6-16)
MIKE NEFF, 44, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 2nd at 4.083 seconds, 312.71 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +4 (2nd quickest of Q1, 3rd quickest of Q3 and second quickest of Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Paul Lee (1-0)
ROBERT HIGHT, 42, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 4.085 seconds, 311.27 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +5 (quickest of Q2 and 2nd quickest of Q3)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Tony Pedregon (7-14)
* * * *
Sunday, October 30
Final Eliminations 11 a.m.
HIGHT TOPS ON FRIDAY AT BIG O TIRES NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, NV — On Friday at the 11th annual NHRA Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang took a page from the St. Louis Cardinals and kept battling for their second Full Throttle Funny Car championship by running the low ET of Friday. Crew chief Jimmy Prock tuned up Hight’s Funny Car and made a 4.085 second pass that stood up through the whole session securing the top spot and three valuable qualifying bonus points.
“As long as I am still mathematically in it going in to Pomona that is what is important. You look at game 6 of the World Series and what happened there, that is a perfect example of why you don’t ever, ever give up. You battle right now to the last out, the last pitch and that is what the Cardinals did,” said Hight, an avid baseball fan. “That was the most amazing game I have ever watched. You are on the edge of your seat. Coming back from being two runs down twice is the same attitude John (Force) has taught me and everyone on our team. No matter what you don’t ever, ever believe you are out of it. We hope we don’t come down to that here in Las Vegas. As long as we have a legitimate shot leaving here, that is the mental attitude you have to have.”
In the first session Hight was the slowest Funny Car, smoking the tires before half track. He was the first Funny Car to make a run of the second session and blazed down the race track. Considering the NHRA is in Las Vegas Hight did not consider placing a bet on his chances of staying No. 1.
“That is one reason why I don’t gamble when I come to Las Vegas. I would have bet anything with anybody that that run would have stuck. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I talked and we were just hoping to get down the track since we didn’t in the first session. We were trying to get a run that was top four,” said Hight. “That is where you need to be on race day to have lane choice and hopefully not run into your teammates early. I would have never bet that run would have held up. There were a lot of good cars behind me and it stuck.”
“Jimmy Prock just goes up there with a lot of confidence and he makes this Auto Club Ford thunder. We love racing here in as Vegas. We won here earlier this year but this is exactly what we need to do to get right back in the hunt.”
“Tomorrow we run early and if we can get out there before it heats up that 4.08 is probably not safe. I’ll sleep a lot better tonight knowing we are No. 1. We haven’t had a lot of these. This is the least amount of these I have had in my career in a season. We have struggled but we have still won five races,” said the Las Vegas Nationals spring winner. “What really matters is what you do on Sunday. What we really need is four of those 4.08s on Sunday. That is what it is going to take to beat Hagan, Beckman, or Cruz. They made some really nice runs on a hot track in Phoenix. These are great conditions on a great race track. I really expected more guys to step up.”
When asked in the pressroom if he had been thinking about championship possibilities during the off week Hight confessed it the thought had run through his mind.
“It is in the back of my mind. I have to be careful and not over think it. You saw what I did in Phoenix when I red-lit for the first time. It doesn’t do any good to worry about it or think about it. You have to just come out here and do the best we can,” said the 2009 Funny Car champion.
Mike Neff took a major step forward in closing the gap on points leader Jack Beckman when he recorded the second quickest time of the first session picking up two qualifying bonus points. Neff is now 20 points out of first place. All things being equal if Neff out qualifies Beckman he will drop that number below twenty and he’ll close within one round of Beckman’s Valvoline/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger.
“I am just trying to make the best run I can right now. The points are important if you get them for sure,” said the crew chief and driver.
In the second session Neff’s Castrol GTX Ford struck the tires. His first session time was quick enough to position him in the provisional No. 8 spot going into Saturday.
“Tomorrow we run a lot earlier and we won’t be running under the lights. There is a chance we could have a decent session tomorrow. We’ll have a chance to improve our position,” said the season-long points leader. “We aren’t sure right now (what happened on that run). I am going to get with my guys and look at the data. It definitely didn’t do what we wanted it to.”
Finally John Force will go into the second day of qualifying with the 13th quickest run of the day, a respectable 4.180 second run. With over twenty Funny Cars on the property Force and his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang will have their hands full racing into the show
SEBRING, Fla. — Dario Franchitti was buckled into the 2012 IndyCar to commence the second round of manufacturer testing for Honda at Sebring International Raceway, but he was a million miles away. The reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion, physically weary from travel and mentally spent from the emotional upheaval of Dan Wheldon’s death, wanted to be anywhere else.
But, like Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Chevrolet car 200 yards down pit lane, the program must push forward. It’s what, both acknowledge, Wheldon would have wanted. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2005 series champion was the test driver for the seven-week Dallara chassis validation program through late September.
Now the engine manufacturers’ program, which began at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early October, is in full swing with testing almost every week through mid-December.
Franchitti and Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, who drove the Honda car at Mid-Ohio, will do the lion’s share of the engine development work for Honda. Series championship runner-up Will Power tested at Mid-Ohio, with the remainder of the program being spread out among other teams. Hunter-Reay drove the two days at Sebring, while Tony Kanaan will be in the car next week.
“Right now, I would rather have another couple of weeks,” Franchitti said during the lunch break. “But our job is to do this so here I am. It’s tough for everybody on the team; it’s tough for everybody in the INDYCAR community right now. The timing is not good right now, but if we want to show up next year in the best position possible we have to be doing it. I definitely want to do my part.”
The on-track program, according to INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles, isn’t only about proving out the engine that’s “quite a departure” from the one utilized through this season.
“It’s gone from 8 cylinders to 6, naturally aspirated to turbocharged, so there are a lot of new things that need to be proven out,” Knowles said. “Also, they’re learning about the chassis. Does it meet the targets that were set and validate the information they got from Dallara on the chassis in terms of aero and chassis setups. So it’s the whole car that is the focus.”
Development, as Roger Griffiths of Honda Performance Development and Mark Kent of GM Racing said, will be ongoing.
“Even when the manufacturer testing finishes it won’t be the final product,” Knowles added. “It will be close to it, but there will be refinements to make and they’ll be working with their teams in the early part of next year.”
Manufacturers have a homologation date of 30 days before the March 25 opener in St. Petersburg. Teams are scheduled to take delivery of their first chassis in mid-December.
“I’m really appreciative of Dallara naming the car after Dan; he did put a lot of work into it and he did a really good job of not telling us anything,” Franchitti said. “He was very secretive about what went on so he didn’t give anyone an advantage, and a few of us tried to tap him for information.
“We’re at the beginning of a long development process. It will be a busy couple of months.”
Digital Slidejob: Social Media Powers Expanded Information on Dirt
Twitter and Facebook helps series and teams connect with fans, sponsors
CONCORD, N.C. Oct. 28, 2011 In a day and age where information and news moves faster than sprint cars around a quarter-mile bull ring, the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series drivers, teams and officials use social media to keep fans and media informed about whats going on at the track. With services that provide real time updates and a wealth of content, an explosion of information is available that didnt exist five years ago.
The social networking aspect of this sport has grown quickly, said Chris Dolack, Vice President of Public Relations for World Racing Group. We now have the ability, through such platforms as Facebook and Twitter, to reach our fans and media partners on a much more frequent and informal basis. In addition to the quickness of the updates and news, we can also push different forms of media including print articles, podcasts, videos and more. Its very exciting to see how weve adapted these technologies to work in our sport and to reach new fans.
Perhaps one of the most important features of the social networks for fans and media members alike is the posting of race lineups and finishes along with pictures and videos from the track during the race.
Having lineups and finishes posted within minutes allows people to keep track of whats going on at the track even if they arent there, Dolack said. It also allows us to bring a little fun into PR, especially with on Twitter, where we can connect directly with fans. For example, we had a good time interacting with the Beer Hill Gang at Williams Grove Speedway weeks before we arrived for the Morgan Cup Challenge. Its tough to accomplish that kind of interaction through traditional PR routes, and it creates some positive energy around an event.
While the series itself uses the technologies to keep followers from around the world up to date about the events, many drivers and team members have taken to social media to give fans a behind the scenes look at what its like to be on the tour.
It gives me an opportunity to share the reality of what we do in real time, said Jason Meyers, the defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion who is leading the series into the Lowes Foods World Finals Presented by Toms Snacks, Coca-Cola and Natures Own on Thursday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. I am still a rookie in regards to my tweets, but I am learning. Social media is the wave of the future, and will only become more prevalent over the next couple of years as everyone from a 4-year-old to grandparents become accustomed to its speed and utility. We are still learning how to best use it in our world of sprint car racing and to also share our world with those that do not know about it.
As social media and other Web 2.0 technologies evolve, the goals and ambitions for what can be distributed across will grow.
Im excited to see what more we can accomplish as the technology changes and gets better, Dolack said. We recently launched our own World of Outlaws Facebook page and fans can go there and participate in a contest that will see the winner earn a trip for two to the 41st Annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals. Weve also seen tremendous growth with our videos this year and we want to continue that growth. We want to be able to improve the quality of our messages and be able to distribute them to more platforms in the coming years. I think weve only begun to scratch the service.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – John Force could be the most dangerous driver in the field this week when the Full Throttle drag racing tour returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the11th running of the Big O Tires Nationals, the next-to-last race in the NHRA’s Countdown to 1 playoffs.
Amazingly, Force hasn’t won a round since Aug. 7, when he beat Jeff Diehl in the first round at Seattle. Since then, he’s lost to Beckman twice, to Ford Racing teammate Bob Tasca III twice, to Cruz Pedregon, Johnny Gray and Dale Creasy Jr.In fact, he is a very un-Force-like 14-19 for the season and, barring a spectacular turnaround, he will finish the season with a losing record for just the second time in the last 27 seasons. The only driver in any motor sports discipline to have won races in 24 different seasons (Richard Petty won NASCAR races in 23), Force has started from the No. 1 spot five times this season, second only to Cruz Pedregon (six), but rarely has his qualifying success translated into anything positive on race day.