John Force Racing Drivers Rev Up At Indy Testing
A day after three John Force Racing Mustangs tested at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis expectations are high for the team heading into the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, September 3-7, 2009. Team owner and 14-time funny car champion John Force observed his young drivers all day and at the conclusion of testing offered his thoughts on the team’s performances.
“We had a good outing today, a good test session. I’m tired, and even though I never jumped in the car all day, I learned one thing from this test session, besides the fact that my race cars will go down this race track, whether in the heat or at night. (The last night session) gave my daughter Ashley some more experience in a night session. Ashley ran 4.15, (Mike Neff’s crew chief John) Medlen ran a 4.18, (Robert Hight’s crew chief Austin) Coil ran a 4.18 or 4.19 so we are pretty happy. But what I learned most of all, is that I don’t like the thought of being simply a team owner. Some people like it, but boy all I did was aggravate everybody all day (jokingly) because I had nothing to do, other than just watch my other three Mustangs run down the track. So now I head to Topeka to watch my youngest daughters run,” said Force.
Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang, had the second quickest Funny Car on the property with a 4.170 second run. For the second event in a row Hight will pilot a nitro funny car tuned by Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. Last weekend in Reading, Pa., Hight qualified No. 2 and reached the second round of competition closing the gap on the critical No. 10 position for the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
“What was encouraging for me was to see Austin at the top end and see how encouraged he was from our runs. I would say this was a one hundred percent success today, and yes we smoked the tires tonight, but you know we learned a lot from that. We won’t press so hard next week, and had we not done that (smoked the tires) we might have pressed it that hard during the Mac Tools US Nationals and smoked the tire there instead. So we’re way ahead. Already in the six runs we made, Austin feels that it’s shown more promise and that it responds to what he does better than it has all year,” said Hight.
Hight said a lot of the improvement can be attributed to a new clutch controller the team has installed.
The quickest driver of testing on Wednesday was Ashley Force Hood who was also the No. 1 qualifier at the 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading. Force Hood in her Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas tuned Castrol GTX Ford Mustang covered the O’Reilly Raceway Park 1000 ft. racing surface in 4.157 seconds.
"Our entire team feels great that we were able to get some laps on this new Mustang. I wasn't too fond of the car after changing to it for one round in Reading, but I feel 100% more comfortable after testing. It’s great to go into an event, especially the Mac Tools US Nationals, after such a positive test day. I think the most important thing is the quality of runs we had with the new car, I know myself and my team feel a little more prepared and confident going into the weekend," said Force Hood.
Co-crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli added, "Ron and I approached this test session a little differently than we have in the past. Having a new car (with only one run from Reading) and having hurt a lot at the last race, we focused on testing new blowers and manifolds. We went and ran three of five runs that were nice tunable passes. The starting line always tends to be tricky here in Indy and we only had about 40% of the teams at this session that we expect at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. I think we might be able to utilize some of the information gained today as an advantage over those unable to make the test session."
Finally, Mike Neff the most recent finalist for John Force Racing was the third quickest funny car on Wednesday. Neff covered the track in 4.175 seconds behind the wheel of his Ford Drive One Mustang. Neff is currently ninth in points and should clinch a spot in the Countdown to 1 by simply qualifying for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
“We feel pretty good going into Indy. We have a car that’s running really strong, for testing here we really didn’t change anything, we just tried a few different things to work on our depth, like spare blowers and stuff like that. We made a good run in the good conditions and made some good runs when it was hot here today. Ultimately we felt that we learned what we needed to and feel that we have a great shot going into the Indy weekend,” said Neff.
“Track conditions were good when the track stayed cool, and got a bit tricky when it was hot. I think it will be better during the race when NHRA gets here and does their work on the track. Depending on the weather, the racetrack is in pretty good condition, so we should have a good and quick race weekend,” concluded Neff.
All four John Force Racing Mustangs will be competing at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and they will be joined by Brittany and Courtney Force who will be competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster division driving the BrandSource A Fuel Dragster and Sanyo Supercharged HD A Fuel Dragster, respectively.