Change is in the air at John Force Racing.
Heading into next weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, team owner John Force and JFR president Robert Hight announce crew chief and team changes involving two Funny Car teams.
The teams of Force and Hight will essentially swap: crew chief Jimmy Prock will move to Hight’s Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team, with crew chief Mike Neff switching to Force’s PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.
Moving with Prock are co-crew chief Chris Cunningham and crew members who started the season with Force’s team, while co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch and Hight’s former team members move to the PEAK Chevrolet. The changes are effective immediately.
Force’s Funny Car teams have won 247 races, with Force himself winning 147 and Hight 37. Force is a visionary who created a drag racing dynasty, molding some of the top talent in the sport into a consistently winning team.
“I never do anything on the spur of the moment,” Force said. “I take days to think it out. But after doing a show for PEAK in Phoenix, for Chevrolet in Chicago and talking to (famed crew chief) Austin Coil, I had some time to think. My race cars are moving ahead. They’re running big numbers; we’re still trying to find that consistency.
“I came into the shop in Brownsburg and met with the teams and all the guys in the machine shop, the fab shop and the paint shop. I looked at the pictures on the wall, looked at Jimmy Prock and Robert Hight in winner’s circle photos, I looked at pictures of me and Jimmy Prock, I looked at pictures of me and Neff, I looked at pictures of me and Jon Schaffer and Jason McCullough – and all of a sudden, it just felt right.
“I went home, slept on it, woke up the next morning, and it felt right. The cars are all doing good, but to put Robert Hight back with Jimmy Prock, who he won the championship with, and to put me back with Mike Neff, who I won the championship with – and Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch, who I won four races last year with – it just made sense.”
Coil is the dean of John Force Racing crew chiefs, as he was essential in helping build JFR into the elite drag racing team of today.
Hight and Prock teamed to win the 2009 championship and 27 races in their time together. Force and Neff won the 2010 title and seven races.
Prock has 41 career victories at JFR, while Neff won 26 races – 10 with Hight, nine as a driver/crew chief and seven with Force.
“I called in the crew chiefs, asked them what they thought, and we came to an agreement to make the swap,” Force said. “Change is good. Austin Coil always told me change is good, even when things are going right. This will build us stronger in the long run.”
Courtney Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team and Brittany Force and her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team remain intact. Courtney Force raced to the final round in the season-opening race at Pomona, Calif., while Brittany Force made the final at Phoenix in the second race of 2017.
The NHRA Gatornationals is scheduled for March 17-19.