John Force, 18-time NHRA Funny Car world champion team owner, is only focused on bringing the 19th Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car and first Mello Yello NHRA Top Fuel championships to the Yorba Linda, California and Brownsburg, Indiana based race teams. The team concluded the 2016 NHRA regular season with four Funny Car national event wins, three Top Fuel national event wins and a Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory in an all JFR final round with rising star Courtney Force edging teammate Robert Hight for the $100,000 top prize.
Heading into the September 23-25 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, John Force’s PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team will be looking to win their unprecedented 17th NHRA Funny Car championship. Crew chief Jon Schaffer, who led the team to two victories during the Western Swing, will be joined by Jason McCulloch in sharing the tune-up duties. Nick Casertano will continue his day-to-day duties of crew management and Funny Car operations on the PEAK team.
“Growing up in California I always felt like my heroes Don ‘Snake’ Prudhomme, Tom ‘Mongoose’ McEwen and Ed ‘The Ace’ McCulloch were the boys of Southern California. I used to see Jason sitting on truck tailgates learning from all these legends just like me. The McCullochs are Funny Car people just like the Forces. It just seemed like a natural fit to bring Jason over with me and team him up with Jon Schaffer. I have always worked to build the next generation of drivers and crew chiefs. This move is part of that plan and one that I think will make all my teams stronger,” said John Force.
The move brings McCulloch back to his Funny Car roots after over a decade winning world championships in the Top Fuel ranks. McCulloch grew up in drag racing working on his father’s Funny Car that was owned by Larry Minor before switching to Top Fuel where he established himself as one of the brightest young crew chiefs.
“I learned a lot growing up in this sport. One of the best lessons I picked up was to work as hard as you can and do whatever job needs to be done. I am looking forward to working on the PEAK Camaro Funny Car with Jon Schaffer and Nick Casertano as well as the rest of the guys on that crew. That team has a lot of talent and I am ready to do my part to win John Force another Funny Car championship,” said McCulloch.
Mike Neff will continue in his role as the lead Funny Car crew chief running the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car that has a win at the Gatornationals with driver Robert Hight, as well as a runner-up finish in the Traxxas Shootout and five semifinal finishes this season. The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS team, led by Danny Hood and Ronnie Thompson, are looking for their first Funny Car championship together with driver Courtney Force and have the momentum of a win in Houston plus two runner-up finishes this season.
The Monster Energy Top Fuel team has the experience of not just world championship tuner Brian Husen but also the additional input from first ballot Hall of Fame Top Fuel crew chief and JFR Top Fuel team consultant Alan Johnson. With three wins and another runner-up driver Brittany Force has experienced a break-out season that has her in position for JFR’s first Top Fuel championship.
Tickets now are on sale for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at GMP. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event annually delivers the biggest names in professional drag racing, including four-time GMP winner Antron Brown, defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and 16-time Funny Car champion John Force. Qualifying will take place on Friday and Saturday with eliminations on Sunday. The St. Louis event is the second race of the 2016 Countdown to the Championship. Kids12 and under are free.
SCHEDULE FOR THE 2016 AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWES NATIONALS AT GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK
Thursday, September 22
6 p.m. — NHRA Fanfest and driver autograph session at Ballpark Village in St. Louis at Busch Stadium. (6-7:30 p.m.)
Friday, September 23
11 a.m. — Midway opens.
2:15 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
2:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
3:30 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.
4:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
5:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
6 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying.
7:30 p.m. – Track closed.
Saturday, September 24
10 a.m. — Midway opens.
1 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
1:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
2:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
3:45 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
4:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
5 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
7:30 p.m. – Track closed.
Sunday, September 25
9 a.m. — Midway opens.
10 a.m. — Pre-race ceremonies.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car Eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
12:20 p.m. – Second round of Pro Mod eliminations.
12:45 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:15 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod semi-finals.
2:15 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:33 p.m. — Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle semi-finals.
2:40 p.m. — Pro Mod finals.
2:45 p.m. — Sportsman finals.
3:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock finals.
3:37 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster finals.
Schedule subject to change.