Rookie Force still impressing at Auto Club finals
POMONA, CA – Even though rookie sensation Courtney Force could not hold off the 4.025 second pass by Jack Beckman in the second round of qualifying at the 48th annual Auto Club NHRA Nationals, she managed to make a second noteworthy pass in her Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car in addition to the career best 4.032 second run that she opened with on Thursday.
“We came out today hoping to hang on to the No. 1 spot, but Beckman took it away from us in that last round. We were only bumped down one to the No. 2 spot. We still made a great pass with a 4.05 so we’ve got a great race car.
It blew the burst panel off right at the end; right at the finish line, so who knows if it would have run a little better than that .05,” said Force.
Jim Head also ran a 4.056 ET, but was ousted from the second-best spot based on speed; his 306.40 mph to Force’s 315.86 mph. That kept her close to the top of the pack and in the No. 2 spot.
“With the conditions, this Mustang is running great and consistent so far. Coming out tomorrow we’re going to continue to push our car and see if we can get that No. 1 spot back. We’ve got a great team.
These Traxxas guys are working hard to give me the best race car so we’ll go for it again tomorrow,” said Force.
Force added three bonus points to her No. 6 spot in the points standings on Thursday plus an additional two today, resulting in a total of 5 bonus points in the first two qualifying rounds alone.
While Courtney Force was making another great run Mike Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang were right beside her until they fell back at the finish line.
They were even until about half track when Neff’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang suffered an as yet undiagnosed malfunction that slowed the Funny Car championship contender.
“We were trying to be aggressive but we weren’t being too aggressive. There were some good runs in that lane. I am not sure what exactly happened. I am going over all the info now.
We’ll make another run at it tomorrow. We can run in the low four ohs no doubt. We had a great testing session in Las Vegas and I have a good overall handle on my tune-up. We’ll figure out what happened today,” said Neff.
As Neff crossed the finish line with a pedestrian 4.509 second pass today he slipped back on the Full Throttle point leader Jack Beckman who picked up three qualifying bonus points.
Neff is now 89 points behind Beckman. He can still cut the lead to the magical 80 but it will take a Herculean effort by Neff and an unlikely collapse by Beckman.
In the pair prior to Mike Neff and Courtney Force the Auto Club Ford Mustang of Robert Hight launched hard but then struck the tires. His Ford Mustang traversed the track in 7.875 seconds. It was a surprise result for Hight and his crew chief Jimmy Prock.
“That was a tough run. You just want to get as much data as possible and the conditions were really good. Jimmy and Eric are going over the data to see what happened.
There are two runs tomorrow and our goal is to move up so we can try and help Neff out for this championship,” said Hight, the 2009 Funny Car champion.
“We also want to put on a good show for the fans. They saw some good runs today and tomorrow with two qualifying sessions we’re going to try and get some bonus points and make some solid passes.”
Going into Saturday’s final day of qualifying 8-time Auto Club NHRA Finals champion John Force will have to race into the show.
Two weeks ago at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the 15-time Funny Car champion raced into the field on his final qualifying attempt. He is hoping to solidify his position in the third qualifying session on Saturday.
He narrowly missed the field today posting the 14th quickest run in a 22 Funny Car field.
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