Friday, May 15, 2009

NHRA Bristol preview

John Force has not been in a final round for 23 races. It is the longest drought of final round appearances in his career. He is heading to Bristol Dragway in Tennessee, a track where he has two wins and has been a finalist in three of the past five years.
“We need to hurt some feelings,” said Force, a 126-time tour winner, “and I don’t mean our own. It’s a long season, but we need to start showing that we can still compete.
“What did Waylon say in that song?,” Force asked, an obvious reference to the late country-and-western singer, Waylon Jennings.
“We may be used, but we ain’t used up. Yeah, that’s it. We ain't used up. We've still got something for ’em.”

Ashley Force Hood, the highest-ranking driver for John Force Racing in the NHRA funny car standings, tied fo fourth place, has raced at Bristol twice in her pro career. She lost to Melanie Troxel in the second round at Bristol last year. Troxel went on to win the Bristol event.
She is coming off a first-round loss at Gateway International Raceway in Illinois two weeks ago.
“It always seems like when you have a bad race, you’re off the next weekend,” she said. “It’s better to go right back to work and not dwell on it.”
Force Hood lost to Tony Pedregon at Gateway and is looking for her second win of the season. She won the funny car portion of the NHRA races at Houston Raceway Park.
“It was just one of those weekends,” Ashley said of her loss to Pedregon in the
O'Reilly Midwest Nationals. “Every run I felt like I was making mistakes (even though) the car went down the track every time.
“Whatever happened, we’ve just got to forget about it. I think we can get right back where we need to be. I’ve learned that you’re going to have some rough weekends.
Hopefully, we got ours out of the way.”

Jack Beckman says even though he’s 135 points behind teammate Ron Capps for the lead in the NHRA funny car standings, he’s well ahead of where he was a year ago.
Beckman, a driver from North Hills and a driver for Don Shcumacher Racing, was in 11th at this time a year ago, sitting outside the top 10 and a spot in the Countdown to One playoffs.
“We’re actually just past the quarter-way point of this season and we’re sitting in fourth place,” said Beckman who won at Atlanta Dragway in April. “We're ahead of where we were at this time last year.”
Not that it’s an explanation to Beckman’s impressive start to the season, but he said the change from a quarter-mile to 1000 feet in racing distance might be affecting the cars. Perhaps his team has been able to adapt to the new distance better than most of the other teams in the funny car division.
“Something else that I think is interesting,” added Beckman, “is that until we get to Denver I believe this is the first time we're racing at all these tracks this year to 1000 feet. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference other than the fact that the crew chiefs have found a way to shorten the fuse up a little bit on the cars. Instead of eating themselves up at 1250 feet, some of them are eating themselves up at 950 feet.
“We have not stepped on our car in that way and we’re not going to do that until we’ve used up a couple of our four allotted test sessions and figure out what can make the car faster in the earlier part of the run. And, in fact, we’re kind of taking a step backwards. We have been testing some things during qualifying runs. We’re going to go back more to the combo that we ran in the 1000-foot era last year, with which we arguably have been the most successful funny car to 1000 feet, and make sure that this 2009 chassis responds to that. Once we’re satisfied, we’re going to build on it with a lot of test sessions.”

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