Coming into race day off of a strong qualifying performance at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, all three John Force Racing hot rods narrowly missed a chance at the finals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway making second round exits on Sunday.
Funny Car No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy ran into trouble in their first quad. Despite having a cylinder out and an explosion at the finish line, Hight ran a 3.980-second pass at 311.34 mph to finish second and move onto the second round behind J.R. Todd’s 3.955 pass at 319.37 mph. Hight beat out Cruz Pedregon’s 4.285 at 283.85 and Jonnie Lindberg’s 7.263 at 91.03.
After thrashing between rounds, Hight handled the Auto Club Chevy to a 3.951-second pass at 318.24 mph to come in third in their quad and fall short of the final to Ron Capps’ 3.935 at 321.50 and eventual race winner Bob Tasca’s 3.934 at 331.77. Hight bettered J.R. Todd’s 3.983 at 319.29.
“It was a tough day for the Auto Club team. We looked really good all through qualifying and then had a problem in that first round but I’m proud of this team,” said Hight who is now third in points. “All the guys worked really hard to get this car ready for the second round. Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham had this thing dialed in so I’m not worried and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do. We’ll go out and do some testing tomorrow and move on to the next one.”
Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac Top Fuel dragster team carried over their consistent improvement into race day winning their first-round quad with a stellar 3.722-second pass at a 330.80 mph that was quickest and fastest of the event. Force moved on with Antron Brown who had a 3.827 pass at 313.15 mph. The pair sent Justin Ashley home with a 3.899 at 268.22.
In the second round, Force faced Billy Torrence, Antron Brown and Clay Millican. Billy Torrence left early causing some confusion on the starting line. Both Force and Millican left late. The Flav-R-Pac dragster ran 3.815-seconds at 315.27 mph after dropping a cylinder. Millican went 3.816 at 320.13 but got the win on a holeshot with his .139-second reaction time compared to Force’s .273. Brown won the quad with a 3.761 at 316.23.
“Overall, a good weekend for this Flav-R-Pac team. We qualified No. 1 and picked up points there. We ran consistent all weekend and unfortunately second round we got taken out,” said Force who is now tenth in points. “That’s four-wide racing for you. You have to keep your focus and I lost it for a short second and that was enough to end our day. We’re going home but we go to Atlanta next.”
John Force powered his PEAK / BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy Camaro to an impressive 3.925-second pass at an event top speed of 332.02 mph to win his first-round quad. Matt Hagan followed Force with a 3.932 pass at 329.42 mph defeating Blake Alexander’s 3.958 at 320.97 and Chris Morel’s 4.200 at 294.24.
The PEAK / BlueDEF Chevy dropped a cylinder down track in the second round of eliminations. It would only run 4.049-seconds at 304.60 mph to be third quickest, falling short of the final quad to Matt Hagan’s 3.927 at 325.06 and Tim Wilkerson’s 3.947 at 325.14. Force did perform better than Alexis DeJoria’s 4.257 at 220.30.
“We did our job, we qualified good. We went some rounds, Robert with Auto Club, myself with PEAK and BlueDEF PLATINUM and Brittany with Flav-R-Pac and Monster Energy,” said Force who is now seventh in points. “We didn’t get the win, almost got to the final but we had some breakage and that’s why you need sponsors. All my partners are really standing by me, Chevy, Cornwell Tools stepping up their sponsorship, Baldwin Filters and ParkerStore, you know and that what’s really important.”
After testing Monday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the John Force Racing trio will continue competition in the NHRA Camping World Series with the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway April 30-May 2. It will be the final time the NHRA professional categories will race at the storied facility.