John Force and president of JFR Robert Hight have announced changes in crew chief and team arrangements as they head into next weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals.
The Funny Car teams belonging to Force and Hight will swap crew chiefs; Jimmy Prock will move to Hight’s Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS team, while Mike Neff will switch to Force’s PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. Co-crew chief Chris Cunningham and crew members who started the season with Force’s team will shift alongside Prock. Co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch, plus Hight’s former team members, will switch over to Force’s car. These changes will take place at once.
Force’s Funny Car teams have won 247 races in total, 147 with Force himself and 37 more with Hight. Force’s vision and strategy have ensured his immense impact in racing.
“I never do anything on the spur of the moment,” he 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, the dean of John Force Racing crew chiefs, was essential in building JFR into today’s elite drag racing team.
Hight and Prock worked together to win the 2009 championship and 27 races in their time together, while Force and Neff collaborated to win the 2010 title and seven races. Prock has 41 career victories at JFR; 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, have not changed. 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.