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Forces Will Work Against Each Other Today In Arizona

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 19 2012

Courtney Force will face dad at Firebird today. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

A couple of weeks ago, NHRA team-owner John Force, a man synonymous with racing Funny Cars, talked about his thought process pertaining to the decision to begin working on dragster.

A big reason for his interest, he said, was that he already had four Funny Cars on the track every weekend and that meant big odds that John Force Racing cars would be facing – and beating – each other on a regular Sunday basis.

A case in point was set up on Saturday when, after the final round of qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Chandler, Ariz. Force found himself not only having to face a first-round matchup against a JFR teammate in today’s eliminations, but a first-round matchup against his 23-year-old rookie daughter, Courtney.

It will be the first time the two drivers have raced side by side in eliminations. It will be the third time the family duo have made side by side passes going back to the Florida test session in January

“I gotta race Courtney first round tomorrow,” John Force said. “First time I raced Ashley (his eldest daughter) she beat me, but I’m not going to let that happen again so let’s see what happens.”

Also joining the Forces in the finals today will be his other two teammates, Mike Neff and Robert Hight.

But it will be the father/daughter matchup commanding the most attention.

“Like Pomona, when you get all four cars qualified, you’ve done your job,” John Force said. “Now it’s time to race tomorrow. Courtney’s still learning every day. She stepped up and ran a 4.18, but her Traxxas Mustang has got a lot more in it. I gotta race her first round tomorrow. Mine stepped up and ran a 4.11, Neff jumped up and ran a 4.09, Robert ran a 13, so I got four good Mustangs.”

In his career Force has only lost to one female Funny Car driver, his daughter Ashley Force Hood, who he has a 6-6 record against.

“Auto Club, Ford, Castrol, BrandSource, Mac Tools and Traxxas; I know they’re happy. We were down working all the shows today with Ford in the Midway and yesterday with our BrandSource display. The turnout at the Traxxas deal was huge. The fans are really loving their products. They’re loving all the products. But I think it’s (Traxxas) more of something they can really be involved in and it’s pretty cool stuff,” said Force.

Ironically it was the stellar pass by teammate Mike Neff in the final qualifying session that pushing John Force back on spot from No. 4 into No.5 and first round race with his youngest daughter.

Qualifying for her second consecutive race was a big step for Courtney Force.

“Last Saturday I was just trying to get qualified and now I’m sure we do have a good car; seeing that we did so well last weekend made me more confident going into this weekend. Now, we’re going into Sunday in the field. We are 12th again this weekend, but as long as I have a consistent car and we’re learning new things from it and we have it going a little faster than last weekend, I think we can be competitive.”

At the Arizona NHRA Nationals the 23 year-old driver once again made consistent passes without any problems. On a number of runs she had her hands full but the rookie driver got her Mustang to the lights and posted respectable times every session.

“Qualifying went well. Once again this weekend we had a consistent car. I had to run dad for both of my passes today, which was a lot of fun. He was trying to mess with me a little bit on the tree and that is going to lead to a good race tomorrow since I have him first round,” said Force.

“I’m happy that we wound up 12th. We were working hard to go after a better run on that last pass. We were probably trying to go for a 4.15, but it spun the tires. It was ahead of dad’s car so when we got down about half track it started to spin the tires and then he got around me. It’s definitely all made me feel confident because I think Ron (Douglas, crew chief) learned a lot from that last run and what it did and how we can fix it for first round tomorrow.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 19 2012
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