2010 What's NEW: FUNNY CAR by ProQuest


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                                                                                           CAR ) ) )
Robert Hight                                                           1        Ashley Force Hood                                                   2
A    fter barely making the Countdown to 1 in 2009, there’s
     one thing that defending champ Robert Hight and his Jimmy
Prock-led Auto Club team won’t do again in 2010.
                                                                                F    rom start to finish, Ashley Force Hood’s Castrol GTX
                                                                                     Mustang was arguably the class’ most consistent car in 2009. A
                                                                                two-time winner, she tied Tony Pedregon for the class lead in final-
    “We’re going to try a few things in testing, but we’re not going to         round appearances with eight and made three of the five fastest
get crazy this year; that’s what got us in trouble last year,” said Hight.      1,000-foot runs in Funny Car history, setting the national record at
“There are other cars that can run right with ours, and you’re always           312.13 mph. With that, stands to reason that co-crew chiefs Dean
looking for a little advantage, but we’ve learned that there’s a learning       Antonelli and Ron Douglas haven’t changed much.
curve with all that testing. We’re going to try to refine a few things,             “I don’t think we’re making too many changes,” said Force
but for the most part, we’re going to leave things alone. Our car ran           Hood. “I think we might be using the car that we ran before I had
well at the end of the year, and we believe there’s no reason that it           my big explosion in Reading. That was our favorite car, and we were
can’t start out like that.”                                                     really bummed when that happened and had to switch to our spare
    Hight struggled for much of 2009, clinching the 10th and final              car. The nice thing is that our spare will now be the one that we ran
playoff spot at the 18th and last regular-season race, then won three of        at the end of the year, so we’ll be pretty comfortable with both.”
the Countdown to 1’s six races to deliver John Force Racing its 16th                The only differences this year for Force Hood, who will test in
Funny Car championship.                                                         Phoenix later this month prior to the season opener in Pomona,
    “There are more good cars than there are spots in the Countdown,            where she was runner-up in November, will be a new ’10 Mustang
so we have to do a better job all year,” said Hight, who won two races          body, a new paint scheme commemorating John Force Racing’s 25th
and finished fifth as a rookie in 2005 and has won three races in each          anniversary with Castrol, and a couple of new crewmembers.
of the last three seasons, finishing second, second, fourth, and first,             “The body is going to be a big part of testing because that’s
respectively. “We just squeaked in last year, and we don’t want to do           something new, but I don’t think it’s going to be a big difference”
that again.”                                                                    said Force Hood, who has finished 10th, sixth, and second,
    Fitted with a new ’10 Mustang body, which he tested earlier this            respectively, in her first three seasons. “Other than that, we had two
month in West Palm Beach, Fla., Hight will begin his title defense with         guys leave, so we brought over two from my dad’s team. Every year
the same chassis that he finished with in 2009.                                 we’ve had one or two
                                                “We are going to run the        new guys, but this is
                                                2010 body, and we’re            the first year that the
                                                hoping there’s some             new guys aren’t new at
                                                performance advantage           all, so I think that gives
                                                there that might help us,”      us a little bit of an
                                                said Hight. “It’s not a lot     advantage. Getting used
                                                different, just a little        to someone new in
                                                more swoopy. The                camp is not something
                                                coolest thing is the No. 1      we’re going to have to
                                                on the side.”                   deal with.”

Ron Capps                                                                     It will again carry a Charger body but with a slightly different
                                                                              paint scheme, featuring more yellow than red.
R     on Capps equaled his career high for wins in a season with a class-
      best five victories in 2009. Unfortunately for him, none of them
came during the Countdown to 1’s six-race playoff. Led again by crew
                                                                                  “We have another in-house DSR car built that we’ll be running later,
                                                                              but we’re starting the season with the car we ended last year with,” said
chief Ed “the Ace” McCulloch, Capps and his Don Schumacher Racing             Capps, who tested earlier this month in West Palm Beach, Fla. “We ran
NAPA Auto Parts team will try to reverse that trend in 2010.                  it until Denver, won the race, then went into test mode, testing different
    “We started off smoking last year, and if not for th
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