John Force (Photo Credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery)

NHRA: John Force sets best career ET in qualifying at Gainesville

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John Force has set a career-best elapsed time record in provisional qualifying for this weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville.

The John Force Racing team release is below:

Sixteen-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force found his pot of gold Friday at Gainesville Raceway, earning the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot for the 48th NHRA Gatornationals with a career-best elapsed time in his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.

Force’s pass of 3.832 seconds (a track record) at 333.25 mph came a week after Force and John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight swapped crews. Crew chief Mike Neff and co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch moved from Hight’s team to Force’s, while crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Chris Cunningham switched to Hight’s team.

The result? Force was No. 1 after two qualifying sessions Friday, while Hight – the reigning Gatornationals winner in Funny Car – was No. 2 with a pass of 3.844 seconds at 331.61 mph with the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet. And for good measure, Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force was No. 4 with a run of 3.860 seconds at 333.25 mph.

“It really feels good,” John Force said. “The ol’ hot rod went down the race track. We made a lot of changes in the last few weeks, from working on the chassis on the Top Fuel dragster, and Robert Hight and I decided to swap teams.

“We made changes, and people said, ‘Why?’ I was walking through my shop and got all emotional because it’s the 10th anniversary of Eric Medlen’s (death). We know how much we all loved him.

“I was looking at all these pictures and all these things that mattered, and all of a sudden my brain popped, and it said, ‘You’ve got to change.’ You’ve got to put Robert back with Jimmy Prock, where he won the championship with Auto Club. You’ve got to put me back with Neff, where I won the championship, back with Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch, where I won four races last year. It all just made sense.”

If John Force holds on to the No. 1 spot through the final two qualifying sessions Saturday, it would be the 155th of his brilliant career.

Force and Hight were quick out of the box in Q1, with Force sitting No. 2 and Hight No. 4. But they were even quicker in the second session.

“There is no magic,” Force said. “It’s getting the minds right and hearing the music, and the boys heard the music. We’ll be humming in the morning.”

Each of the four JFR drivers were in the top four Friday, including Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster driver and defending Gatornationals winner Brittany Force, who posted a top pass of 3.719 seconds at 326.79 mph.

Qualifying continues Saturday, with elimination rounds scheduled for Sunday.

Hamilton hails ‘greatest day’ after USGP victory, Mercedes title win

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his jubilation after taking a giant step towards his fourth Formula 1 championship win with victory in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix that also saw Mercedes clinch the constructors’ title.

Hamilton recovered from an early pass by F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to take his sixth victory on American soil, five of which have come at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, to extend his lead to 66 points.

With just 75 left on offer this season, Hamilton needs just one top-five finish in the final three races to clinch his fourth world title, with the enormity of the victory not being lost on the Mercedes driver.

“Today has been amazing. It’s been the greatest day,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.

“I woke up a bit tired, felt the rain, then was like, ‘What the hell?’ But I didn’t mind. I won here in the rain in the past. Then it dried up, clear blue skies, amazing opening at the beginning of the GP.

“I lost first place into Turn 1. It was OK. That first section, we got through there, and it felt very reminiscent of 2012: ‘Game on. You have to save the tires’, and he wasn’t doing that. I kind of kept my cool.”

“I saw I got a good exit of Turn 1, this was the lap and it was. His tires were dropping off anyway.”

Hamilton’s victory saw Mercedes wrap up its fourth consecutive F1 constructors’ title with three races to spare, with the Briton having played a key part in each of its successes.

“I’m so proud of this team. Big congratulations to the guys, people don’t know the amount of work they do,” Hamilton said.

“It’s over 1,500 people in two factories, so much brainpower and a lot of people to manage to extract the best from each of those.

“To come into a new era of car and perform as we have. There’s been a newfound love within the team. Ferrari, we want to beat them, thrash them.

“So they put more hours of working in to do that. That’s for all their hard work.”