John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS led the John Force Racing team with a semifinal finish at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy maintained the Funny Car points lead with a quarterfinal exit while Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy dragster moved to No. 3 with their quarterfinal exit. Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster shifted into eighth in points with a first-round exit.
Coming into race day as the No. 1 qualifiers for the second times this season at zMAX Dragway, John Force and the PEAK Chevy earned a bye in the first round. The PEAK Camaro would shut off early to go only 7.621-seconds at 80.92 mph giving up lane choice to Chad Green in the second-round. Green would leave the starting line first but go up int ire smoke almost immediately and fail to make it to the finish line while Force would have a clean 3.918-second run at 330. 39 mph setting him up to run against Ron Capps in the semifinals.
In their 119th race day meeting, Force and Capps would put on a show. Capps would get out of the gate first with Force making up some ground through the 1,000-feet, but wouldn’t be able to catch the reigning world champion. Force ran a 3.915-second pass at 331.53 mph to Capps’ 3.899 at 328.22.
“Well, I guess my luck ran out. No, really though, not a bad day for this PEAK Chevy. We needed to go some rounds, keep ourselves in the conversation and we did just that,” Force said. “We stayed No. 4 and with four races left, we still have a shot at it. It’s going to be a lot of work, for the guys and for myself. We’re trying to keep up, I’m trying to keep up. Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi, this whole team, we’re learning and it’s showing. Just need to keep it going.”
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevy remain in the Funny Car points lead despite a rare second-round loss at the Carolina Nationals. Hight started the day with a solid .069-second reaction time and 3.869-second pass at 331.53 mph to get the win over Jim Campbell’s 5.910 at 116.76 in the first round. The win would set Hight to run against Alexis DeJoria in the quarterfinals. It would be a tight side-by-side race with DeJoria having the slight starting line advantage at .080-seconds to Hight’s .084. DeJoria would cross the finish line with a 3.918-second pass at 324.59 mph to Hight’s. 3.924 at 320.36, making the margin of victory only .0104-seconds.
“Not the way we wanted today to go here in Charlotte. This whole Auto Club team knows what to do. They’ve won races and championships. We’ll rebound, it will be fine,” Hight said. “Looking at it, we had a spark plug out and it dropped a cylinder. If the driver would have had a .069 light like I had first round, we would be moving on. It’s a team sport.”
Coming in as the No. 2 qualifiers, Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac dragster team improved in their first round of eliminations. Their 3.670-second pass at 335.57 mph would defeat Spencer Massey and his 3.754 at 326.87. In the quarterfinals against eventual race winner Antron Brown, Force would smoke the tires and attempt to pedal the Flav-R-Pac hot rod before having to shut off for a 5.252 at 161.48 that was no match for Brown’s 3.733 at 287.23.
“Being eliminated in the second round is heartbreaking for this entire Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team. We’ve done so well all season long and now we’re struggling when it really matters. We have an incredible team and I’m so proud of every one of these guys,” Force said. “There are four countdown races left and a lot of time to make some big moves. We will have a team meeting tonight and regroup going into St Louis. We’re still confident we can catch that no. 1 spot.”
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT team ran into familiar issues in the first round of eliminations at the Carolina Nationals. Going 3.778 at 328.14 mph wasn’t enough for the Montana Brand dragster. They get outrun by three-time champion Antron Brown with a 3.691 at 331.20.
“We’re going to take this deal one round at a time as we have been. It’s a shame that we went out first round, but we’ve made quite the improvement on this Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist car. I think we have some gremlins going on. It looked like it repeated the same run from yesterday, missing about 300 rpm across the board on power. We’ll have to do some homework and figure it out for next weekend.”
The NHRA Countdown to the Championship continues next weekend with the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.