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2023 NHRA Gatornationals in the Books for John Force Racing

The four John Force Racing hot rods ended race day at the season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals with quarterfinal finishes at Gainesville Raceway. Brittany Force and Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet dragster and John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevrolet Camaro SS leave the weekend fifth in the points standings in their respective categories. Austin Prock has the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster in seventh while Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac / Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevy are in eighth.

John Force, who was consistently quick through qualifying, got lucky in the first round of eliminations when Dave Richards had to shut off before taking the tree. The BlueDEF Camaro would smoke the tires mid-track for only a 6.527-second pass at 99.27 mph. The BlueDEF Camaro Chevy would run out of luck in the second round. Force would make a full pass at 3.942 seconds and 329.91 mph but it wouldn’t be enough for Chad Green’s 3.934 at 321.10.

“Long week here in Florida. Great crowd to start the season. Not the way we’d want to end the day but it’s the first race and we showed some good strides,” Force said. “Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi, they took advantage of testing and we figured some things out and really came out here looking good. Time to head to the next one.”

Just moments after receiving her 2022 NHRA world championship ring, Brittany Force handled the Monster Energy dragster to a 3.692-second run at 333.99 mph to win her first-round matchup against Keith Murt who ran 4.100 at 227.46 after running into trouble mid-track. The Monster Energy dragster would be down on power in the second round. Force would handle her hot rod to a 3.758 at 332.75 but come up short to Mike Salinas’ 3.699 at 334.32 who would go on to win the race.

“Coming into the first race of the season this Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team struggled a little bit. We got a chance to play in the All-Star Callout and made it to the semis where we were taken out. We qualified well. We ran a .69 which is really awesome for us. We made a handful of good runs,” Force said. “On race day we got beat in the second round. We just didn’t push the car enough. We ran a 3.75, and Salinas had a 3.69. This weekend wasn’t for us. That round wasn’t for us. We pack up and we move straight to Phoenix, and we’ll try it again there.”

Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac Chevy secured the No.3 qualifying spot in their final run of qualifying and picked up where they left off going into race day. Hight would have the quickest run of the event at 3.843 seconds and 334.98 mph defeating John Smith who shut off early for a 4.477 at 102.07. An issue with the throttle would plague the Flav-R-Pac Camaro in the second round. Hight would pull up to the starting line without doing a burnout hoping for the best. When it was time to hit the throttle, there was no connection, and the Funny Car wouldn’t make it off the line giving eventual race winner J.R. Todd the victory.

“Not the way you want to end a weekend. Mechanical problem right at the starting line. But we’ll get it figured out,” Hight said. “I’m not worried, that first round run, that’s where we’re at. We’ve got some new guys on the team and everyone is working really hard. We’re finding our groove but we’re right there. We’ll be ready for Phoenix.”

After a less-than-ideal qualifying effort putting the Montana Brand / RMT dragster in the No. 12 spot, Austin Prock opened race day with a 3.706-second pass at 331.53 mph that, combined with his .040-second reaction time on the starting line, gave him the holeshot victory over Millican’s 3.705 at 325.85 with a .113 reaction time. Prock wouldn’t have the chance to run Leah Pruett in the second round. The Montana Brand / RMT dragster would have a mechanical issue after the burnout that would force the team to shut off before taking the tree.

“We came out good in the first round which I was very proud of, but we stumbled in the second round with mechanical issues,” Prock said. “It was still a great outing for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team being a new team. We will come back stronger in Phoenix.”

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The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series next heads to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix for the NHRA Arizona Nationals March 24-26.

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