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TEAM JFR RACE REPORT
4th of 23 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Series
13th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, NV
April 1, 2012
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Final round results from Sunday’s 13th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, fourth race in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
FUNNY CAR – Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang, 4.154, 312.93 mph def. Bob Tasca III, Cranston, RI, Quick Lane/Motorcraft Ford Mustang, 4.213, 292.14 mph.
TOP FUEL – Spencer Massey, Ft. Worth, Tex., FRAM dragster, 3.830, 323.89 mph def. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.849, 315.86 mph.
PRO STOCK – Allen Johnson, Greenville, Tenn., MOPAR Dodge Avenger, 6.648, 207.30 mph def. Vincent Nobile, Dix Hills, NY, Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger, 6.738, 207.53 mph.
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HIGHT WINS 3RD RACE OF 2012; TAKES PTS LEAD
LAS VEGAS, NV — For the third time in 2012 and the 26th time in his career Robert Hight has picked up another NHRA national event win, taking the “Wally” at the 13th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Hight won from the No. 1 qualifying position, a first in the Funny Car class at the spring event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He defeated fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III in the final after dispatching Terry Haddock, Gary Densham and Bob Bode.
“Being No. 1 qualifier in Pomona was sort of a curse but I don’t look at it as too bad of a curse. You make your own luck. Most of the time when you lose out here you beat yourself. There are no underdogs. The TV cameras were talking about the underdogs running good like Bode, Densham or Haddock and I told them to stop because there are no underdogs. Anybody can win in this class,” said Hight. “No No. 1 qualifier has ever won here and not that many people have even repeated here.”
In the final Hight never trailed in the race. He got off the line first and his elapsed time of 4.154 seconds was well out in front of Tasca’s 4.213 second run.
“This class and the parity; it has never been this close. It is exciting and it makes winning three in a row all the more special. It is a lot of pressure on the driver. When our other teams go out early and those guys are over here helping my guys between rounds. When the crew chief walks away that means you have the car and it is all on you. It is a lot of pressure not having John on the TV doing interviews and helping me out there because he is the king at all this.”
This is the second time in Hight’s career he has won three races in a row and he has officially moved into the Full Throttle points lead. Hight has led the Funny Car points each year of his professional career going back to his rookie season in 2005. No Funny Car driver has achieved this feat.
“We have made a lot of test runs here (The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway). We have a lot of experience on this race track. The conditions here are a little tricky. It is a little harder to make power. You are halfway to Denver in elevation. We have a lot of data and a lot of good crew chiefs. Those crew chiefs definitely earn their money on a day like today when the conditions are constantly training. We have (track specialist) Lanny (Miglizzi) out there watching the track and starting line. We really are stacked top to bottom on our team with talent.”
“I am very pleased because we go to Gainesville in crusher conditions and we were able to run good. This is the hottest track we have been on all year and we were almost flawless,” said Hight. “We were one little adjustment away from making eight great runs in the top two every round. Jimmy Prock, you can just see it when you are in the car and he is not having a hundred trips to the box. You just see the confidence in his eyes and that gives you more confidence. You just go up there and cut a light and hopefully see that win light.”
Throughout the race day Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang was the model of consistency posting three consecutive times of 4.11 seconds before slowly slightly in the final to a winning time of 4.154 at 312.93 mph. Hight also becomes the first three time winner at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. He has won 15 times in his last 17 final rounds.
“Usually if you smoke the tires on the first run or don’t make it down the track that puts you behind the eight ball. We had a little different circumstance this Friday. We were so close to going that we were one adjustment away from making a great run. Jimmy really didn’t worry about it. It wasn’t like we were lost. We were very confident in what changes we needed to make to get it down there for the night run,” said the No.1 qualifier.
This is the fourth consecutive win for John Force Racing to start the 2012 season and for crew chief Jimmy Prock the win was a show of force as he has tuned his Funny Car to wins in three different climate and altitudes.
“This is three in a row for us and Robert and the Auto Club Ford Mustang so we’re off to a good start. We worked hard this winter to try and make ourselves better. We got off to kind of a bad start in Pomona, but we re-grouped after that. Everybody’s been working hard. The competition has been really tough, but we’ve just tried to run consistent and take it round by round,” said Prock. “Today was a good day for us. We were consistent and it’s always good to have an all-Ford final with (Bob) Tasca (III) and all of our guys pitching in to help out after they went out. It was a good team effort, I’m really excited and I hope that we keep it going.”
The tricky weather conditions gave many of the teams fits but for Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team it was a chance for them to flex their muscle with a tune-up for any condition.
“When I would take my right hand off the wheel to hit my parachutes it would suck me over to the wall and I bet you I wasn’t two feet away from the wall. You can just feel the steering wheel bend because you just can’t hold it. It made it challenging. Early on the grandstands shelter you and you just want to go smooth and straight. Down at the other end it is a little hairy,” said Hight.
“Earlier this week I told my guys to go out on Wednesday night and get it out of your system. We are in Vegas and there are a lot of temptations and distractions. Thursday through Saturday we are all business. We have to stay focused. Now they are going to kill me because we aren’t going to be able to do much partying tonight because we are going to come out here and test tomorrow. We have some new guys on board with John Medlen, Ron Armstrong and Dale Armstrong. Having those guys in my trailer between rounds is so exciting. There is so much experience and they have so many ideas. They work really well together. We will try and go to the Four Wide race and make it four wins in a row.”
“It is harder to start a streak than keep it going. It is not that easy to win out here. I am glad we only have one weekend off before we get to Charlotte and we are in for a treat. These are the best of the facilities.”
John Force lost in the first round for the third race in a row but the 15-time Funny Car champion is not getting discouraged. With the win at the season opening NHRA O’Reilly Winternationals he has secured his spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the $100,000 to win race within a race, at the Mac Tools US Nationals and he will leave Las Vegas firmly in the Top Ten in Full Throttle points.
“It ain’t over. Robert still has a shot at winning this. It’s just part of the game. We’re going through a learning curve here with a lot of new stuff. You gotta tip your hat to Gary Densham, coming out here running on a budget, making two runs, one qualifying run and then to run that 4.12,” said Force. “It impressed me. We’ll just stay positive. We got them all qualified. I think we’ll all stay in the top ten before this is over so we’ll see what happens.”
Throughout the weekend Mike Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang were challenging the racing conditions and working on a solid race day tune up. In the first round versus 2010 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan the side by side race was decided by the slimmest of margins at the finish line with Hagan getting his first win light of the season.
“I’m a little disappointed. We just didn’t make the right calls. We changed some stuff around today to try to fix a couple of things and ended up bringing on a couple new problems. We just never really hit our stride here this weekend,” said Neff, a two-time finalist in 2012. “We were clearly trying to run a lot better than that first round. Just disappointed that we weren’t on this weekend unfortunately, but it’s alright. We’re going to test tomorrow. We got some stuff that will hopefully help us out. Then we’ll go to Charlotte and try it again.”
Neff slipped to No. 2 in the Full Throttle points standings but he is solidly in position to make a run at his first win of the season in two weeks in Charlotte.
The newest addition to John Force Racing, the youngest daughter of the Force clan, Courtney Force came into the first round of eliminations today having spiked her way to the No. 4 spot in qualifying attempts.
Force endured an opening-round loss against Johnny Gray today. This was the first time Gray and Force have faced each other in eliminations. The Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car malfunctioned and threw out the parachutes just before Force clicked it off.
“I’m happy that we made it to the No. 4 qualifying spot. We got a good handle on our Traxxas Mustang Funny Car in the last qualifying session and I was really excited going into first round here on Sunday.”
“First round was a little bit of a bummer. We had a tough competitor with Johnny Gray. I had a good feeling our car would perform, I was ready for it to, but we just had a little malfunction with the parachute. It caused a load of problems for me on my run and he (Gray) was able to drive around me and get that win,” Force said.
Not only was Force’s 4.147 during her final qualifying shot the best start for any of the front runners for Rookie of the Year, but it amplified confidence in the Traxxas Mustang Funny Car team in only their fourth Full Throttle Drag Racing series event.
This is also the track where Force first ran 300 mph run on a night run and licensed last October.
“It’s always a bummer when your car leaves good and you don’t see him at first, but when something like that happens, that’s why they call it a drag race because you can’t do anything about it, just try to go after them in Charlotte,” said Force, a leading Rookie of the Year candidate.
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FULL THROTTLE POINT STANDINGS
FUNNY CAR – 1. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 399; 2. Mike Neff, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 316; 3. Jack Beckman, 276; 4.Johnny Gray, 246; 5. John Force, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang, 217; 6. Bob Tasca III, 208; 7. Courtney Force, Traxxas Ford Mustang, 191; 8. Ron Capps, 190; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 182; 10. Bob Bode, 165
TOP FUEL – 1. Antron Brown, 357; 2. Morgan Lucas, 353; 3. Spencer Massey, 349; 4. Tony Schumacher, 344; 5. Shawn Langdon, 259; 6. Doug Kalitta, 209; 7. Clay Millican, 205; 8. Steve Torrence, 199; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 175; 10. Brandon Bernstein, 153
PRO STOCK – 1. Greg Anderson, 362; 2. Jason Line, 324; 3. Mike Edwards, 307; 3. Allen Johnson, 258; 4. Vincent Nobile, 238; 6. Greg Stanfield, 206; 7. Erica Enders, 193; 8. Roger Brogdon, 191; 9. Ronnie Humphrey, 188; 10. Larry Morgan, 186
JOHN FORCE, 62, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 9th at 4.196 seconds, 305.77 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race results: Lost to Gary Densham.
MIKE NEFF, 45, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 7th at 4.153 seconds, 303.50 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q4)
Race results: Lost to Matt Hagan
ROBERT HIGHT, 42, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 1st at 4.132 seconds, 310.98 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +8 (Quickest of Q2 and Q4 and 2nd quickest of Q3)
Race results: Beat Terry Haddock, Gary Densham, Bob Bode, Bob Tasca III
COURTNEY FORCE, 23, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 4th at 4.147 seconds, 309.91 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race results: Lost to Johnny Gray.
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April 13-15 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, NC
April 27-29 O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, Houston, TX
May 4-6 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, Commerce, GA
May 18-20 NHRA Summer Nationals, Topeka, KS
May 31-June 3 Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, Englishtown, NJ
June 15-17 Ford Thunder Valley Nationals pres. by Tri-Cities Ford, Bristol, TN
June 28-July 1 O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago, IL
July 5-8 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, OH
Results from the NHRA GatorNationals on the next page…