INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 01, 2022) – John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS team enter the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals sitting fifth in the Funny Car points standings looking for a solid weekend to make a last-minute shift in the standings as they head into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
Force shares with Ed McCulloch the record for most Funny Car victories at the U.S. Nationals with five (1993, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2019). Last year, after qualifying No. 1 for a record 12th time, Force had a second-round exit. His other No. 1 starts came in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. This weekend will be Force’s 42nd career appearance at the U.S. Nationals. Force is fifth in points after a victory at Charlotte in the spring and two runner-up finishes at Sonoma and Topeka. The 16-time champion is just 10 points out of fourth and 72 out of third.
“I’m excited to be in Indy, to be racing at the U.S. Nationals. Having a race within a race, three days of qualifying, race day on Monday, it’s a big deal. The fans will be packed in for a great show,” Force said. “Final race before we get into the Countdown and this PEAK Chevy team has got a chance to make a move in the points. We’ve struggled a bit but Danny Hood, Tim Fabrisi, all these young guys, they’ve been working hard. We’ll be out there making every run count, hoping to win the Pep Boys callout and end up in the winners circle on Monday.”
Adding to the prestige of the weekend is the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Callout, a race within a race with a purse of its own. The all-time leader in specialty event victories with 13, Force has won a specialty event at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park eight times. He doubled up in 1993 and 1996, winning both an all-star event and the US Nationals on the same race weekend.
Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS will look to capture the regular season championship this weekend as they head to the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park with a 250-point grip on the Funny Car points lead.
Third on the Funny Car all-time win list behind only John Force (155) and Ron Capps (70), Hight is chasing career win number 60 as well as a career best season. Currently leading the points standings off six event wins in his Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham tuned Auto Club Camaro, Hight is poised to become just the sixth Funny Car driver to win as many as seven races in a single season.
Included in his nearly 60 career wins are three U.S. National victories (2006, 2008 and 2013). Hight’s only No. 1 start was in 2009 when he lost in the final round to teammate Ashley Force Hood but, in so doing, qualified for the Countdown in the 10th and final position. He would go on to win the first of his three championships, becoming the only driver in any category to win from a last place start.
“The U.S. Nationals are a big deal, there’s a lot going on this weekend with the five qualifying runs and the Callout,” Hight said. “Most importantly, it’s the final race before the Countdown begins. This Auto Club Chevy team has worked hard all season, that’s what’s gotten us to the points lead. Doing well at the Big Go will carry over to the Countdown, where the points reset and we really have to be on it. It’s going to be a long weekend, hopefully we can make it worth is and come out with a win or even two.”
In addition to regularly scheduled competition, this weekend’s U.S. Nationals will also play host to the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout. Based on qualifying efforts throughout the season, Hight and the Auto Club team have earned the No. 1 cede and the right to be the first to callout their opponent for the specialty race taking place during qualifying on Sunday. Hight has never won a specialty event however, he reached the final round the last four times the Traxxas Nitro Shootout was contested (2014-2017).
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster team enter this weekend’s Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park ready to leave it all on the table as they battle for a strong showing heading into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.
After starting the 2022 Camping World NHRA season with a runner-up finish at the season opening Winternationals, Prock had a No. 2 qualifying spot at the Virginia Nationals where he also reached the semifinals and followed up his Virginia performance with another semifinal finish at the New England Nationals. A series of early race day exits, and poor qualifying performances dropped the rising Top Fuel star to 12th in the points standings but with a string of four quality qualifying passes at the most recent event in Brainerd, Minn., the Montana Brand / RMT team look like they’re on the upswing.
“I’m excited for the ‘BIG GO’. I feel like this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team is on the right track for success this weekend. We've made good progress on our program and think it's going to pay off,” Prock said. “I will be ready, I'm hungrier than ever and focused on the task at hand. We need a big weekend to have some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Prock was a semifinalist in his only U.S. Nationals appearance as a driver in 2019. After qualifying 12th, he beat Richie Crampton and Mike Salinas before smoking the tires against Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. He is racing a full schedule in the Montana Brand/ RMT dragster this year for the first time since 2019 after his driving career temporarily was sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet dragster team come into the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park as the Top Fuel points leaders on the strength of four 2022 wins. Maintaining their position through the holiday weekend would secure them the regular season championship and the top seed as they head into the Countdown to the Championship.
Already with an 94-point lead heading into the four-day event with points and a half on the table, Force and her Monster Energy team look like a sure bet to become the first team other than Steve Torrence to win the regular season championship since 2016. The No. 1 spot entering the Countdown would also put Force in prime position to become just the fourth woman in NHRA pro drag racing history to win multiple championships (after Shirley Muldowney, Erica Enders and Angelle Sampey).
Adding to the excitement of the weekend is the conclusion of the inaugural Pep Boys All-Star Top Fuel Callout which was. Force and her Monster Energy team won their first-round match-up against Antron Brown before the event was rained out at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida earlier this year. Force continues the competition with the privilege of “calling out” the opponent of her choice before the semifinal round on Saturday.
“Heading into the biggest race of the season this weekend In Indianapolis. The U.S. Nationals is such a historic race and prestigious event,” Force said. “This race holds so much excitement for the fans as we run two races in one weekend. After qualifying Friday night, which is always awesome to see, we get to really kick things off with the Pep Boys All-Star Call Out where I'll get to call out my opponent heading into the next round. It all takes place Saturday while we’re qualifying for the race day on Monday. It’s going to be a long weekend and we hope an even longer Monday. This Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team made it to the finals of the U.S. Nationals last year and our goal is to go all the way this year and bring home an Indy win.”
Although JFR has yet to hoist the Top Fuel trophy at Indy, Force is the track record holder at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park at 3.645 seconds (Aug. 31, 2019) and 334.57 mph (Sept. 3, 2021) and qualified No. 1 in her last two appearances (2019 and 2021). Force will be competing to become the first woman in 40 years to capture the U.S. Nationals victory. In 2021 she came up just short matching her No. 1 start with a runner-up finish to reigning series champion Torrence.
Competition at the prestigious U.S. Nationals kicks off with five rounds of qualifying beginning Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. with two runs Saturday at 2:45 and 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations are set to begin on Monday at 10 a.m. The Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout will be Saturday with the semifinals at 2:40 p.m. and finals at 6:25 p.m. Television coverage of qualifying and the Callout will be on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with shows Sunday at 1, 4 and 5:30 p.m. ET. Eliminations coverage will be split with a show at Noon ET on FS1 and the 2 p.m. ET on FOX Broadcasting Network.
- John Force Racing PR -
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Photo: JFR / Gary Nastase, Auto Imagery