Force Hood top qualifier at Pomona
On a night when Robert Hight won his first funny car world championship Ashley Force Hood grabbed the top spot in qualifying at the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals positioning her Castrol GTX Mustang team to hold onto the No. 2 position in the Full Throttle point standings.
Force Hood was paired with Hight and she made a tremendous 4.059 second pass at 310.20 mph racing past her father for the top spot while Hight cruised to championship with a 4.067 second run also at 310.20 mph.
“I knew when we rolled up we were going to run something special. All the guys on the team were like we are going to buckle you in extra tight. They were kind of joking with me about it. They get excited when there is a good number out there. You can’t try every run because conditions are great all the time. We were in the field tonight and we were locked out of the championship so there was nothing to lose. My team loves it when there is that kind of scenario,” said the 2007 rookie of the year.
Hight made his emotional last qualifying lap with tears in his eyes. As he was waiting to run the weight of the situation finally hit the former JFR crew member.
“When people started telling me I clinched I never really got emotional. I was in the car with my helmet on and I couldn’t hold it. We still had to make a run out there. That is so tough to do. I heard Ashley leave so I must have been an hour late. It doesn’t matter in qualifying,” said the newly crowned 2009 Funny Car champion. “I don’t even know what we ran. It is so emotional and so exciting we have all worked so hard for so long for this. What is really the coolest is John Force taking the chance on this guy from northern California. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen.”
In the final pair of Funny Cars 14-time champion John Force was hoping to grab the top spot back from his daughter so he could end a frustrating streak of his own. The last time the winningest driver in NHRA history was the No. 1 qualifier was the 2006 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Force’s Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly tuned Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang launched hard and when the scoreboard lit up it showed the same ET as Force Hood but unfortunately for Force his mile per hour was one mile per hour slower handing Force Hood the No.1 qualifier title.
“When they said over the PA that it was a tie I was like, ‘What are the chances of that?’ and then when they said it would go to mph. We usually come up a little short on those kind of things but we were really excited when they said it was us. Then we realized we got around our boss and my dad. They were so pumped yesterday. It is good to see their car running well. We are excited for tomorrow,” added Force Hood.
The Force Hood, Force, Hight finish in qualifying is the 10th time John Force Racing has finished 1-2-3 in qualifying.
All the teams knew conditions would be extraordinary and Force Hood’s crew chief tandem of Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas had her Mustang loaded up for her final qualifying attempt. The third year driver was both excited and nervous as she was strapped into her 8,000 hp Funny Car.
“Ron and Guido they were going for it. The conditions were right and the car was there, why not do it. It is Saturday night in Pomona. It is the final race of the year. It is our home track and Robert clinched the championship. It is a great night for us and it is great to have our Mustang back where it belongs,” said Force Hood.
Mike Neff pulling driver and crew chief duties on his Ford Drive One Mustang was looking for an improved performance as the air temperature cooled. Unfortunately he is still working through some growing pains with his new chassis and clutch management system. Neff did not improve on his earlier time of 4.137 seconds and will enter race day in the No. 10 qualify position.
“These are killer conditions. We have a new clutch management system and stuff. It is like starting over. It is making it difficult. We will keep pecking away. Tomorrows conditions will be a little different. As long as it goes down the track we will have something to build off of,” said the 2008 Auto Club NHRA Finals No. 1 qualifier.
Top Alcohol Dragster ran their first round of eliminations after the final Top Fuel qualifying session and both Brittany and Courtney Force advanced to round two. Brittany dispatched Joey Severance 5.408 to 5.728 and Courtney bested Brandon Johnson 5.530 to 6.674. The Brandsource A Fuel dragster and the Sanyo Supercharged HD A Fuel dragster will both move onto the second round with a possible head to head race in the semi-finals.