It has been a long “first” season for the modern Chevrolet Camaro funny car program, but not due to any real issues on their end. The problem for John Force Racing and their drivers is that the Dodge Charger funny cars of Don Schumacher Racing have been incredibly fast and incredibly dominant all season long, winning 13 of the first 16 races this season. Fortunately, John Force has been able to drive his Camaro to the winner’s circle twice, but 2015 has been a fairly unsavory season for Robert Hight – until Brainerd, that is.
Camaro Fast in Qualifying
As has often been the case this season, the John Force Camaro funny cars were fast out of the gate, with Robert Hight’s 3.994 being the first 3-second run of the event and the first 3-second run at Brainerd. John Force ran a strong 4.010 and Courtney Force ran a solid 4.042, but Hight was the quickest Camaro in the first round of qualifying. Unfortunately, the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger driven by Jack Beckman was just a bit quicker, running a 3.976 to claim the top spot after round 1.
In round 2 of qualifying, John Force ran into issues, but both Robert Hight and Courtney Force turned up the heat on the Dodge Charger teams, with Hight running a 3.974 while Courtney ran a 3.959. This made Courtney Force the quickest car in the field, but only until Jack Beckman backed up his first run with an even quicker 3.946, allowing Beckman to hold the top spot.
In qualifying round 3, John Force got into the 3 second action with a 3.930 pass, while both Courtney Force and Robert Hight had poor runs and had to rely on their previous qualifying passes. This meant that John Force qualified 2nd, Courtney was 4th and Hight was 6th headed into eliminations.
In round 1, Courtney Force ran into problems and John Hale in a 2014 Dodge Charger) took the win while both John Force and Robert Hight handed out first round beatings – including sending Ron Capps home early.
John Force ran into a surprisingly fast Tim Wilkerson in round 2 and lost, but Hight continued to be very fast in beating Brian Stewart to advance to the final four. On the other side of the bracket, Tommy Johnson Jr beat John Hale and Jack Beckman beat Matt Hagan to set up a Mopar-Mopar battle on one side and a Ford-Chevy battle on the other.
In the third round, Robert Hight laid down a smokin’ fast 3.928 to knock off Wilkerson while Tommy Johnson Jr took advantage of Beckman’s traction issues to advance to the finals.
In the final run of the event, Tommy Johnson Jr and his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T took on Robert Hight in his John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Johnson got out first with a better reaction time, but the Camaro quickly overtook the Dodge and drove to victory – running a 3.956 to the Charger’s 4.130.
This gave John Force Racing and the modern Chevrolet Camaro funny car program their third win of the season while Robert Hight recorded his first win this year. The winning run is available below via the NHRA YouTube channel.
After the Brainerd event, Jack Beckman is in 1st place with Matt Hagan in 2nd (-50 points back), Tommy Johnson Jr is 3rd (-121), John Force is 4th (-195), Del Worsham is 5th (-242) and Ron Capps is in 6th (-259). These six drivers have secured their place in the Countdown to the Championship that begins after the next event. The top ten drivers will battle for the crown this year and while Robert Hight is currently 8th overall, he has not locked down his spot and Courtney Force is still on the outside looking in. She will need to turn in a strong effort in Indianapolis in two weeks to make it into the run for the title.