We had a really quick turnaround time in Las Vegas at the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals since the finals were going to be on ESPN2 live. After the race my PR guy, Elon Werner, asked me if there were three or four technical things that got more attention because of the quick turnaround. I told him really there is no difference in what we are doing whether we have 75 minutes or 55 minutes between rounds. Everything is the same. You have to service everything after every run.
You always do your maintenance check list on Saturday night to get ready for four runs on Sunday. Things like getting the rear end ready are key. Every run we go through the engine the same. We always try and look at the crankshaft and make sure that going into Q4 (the fourth qualifying session) that the crank is going to make it all day on Sunday. You are better off not changing it unless you have to for consistency. There is not that much difference between them but still running the same engine all day is a plus.
You still have to pay attention to all the little details in a hurry. I believe on race day you just work faster and quicker because of the adrenaline. You are pumped up from winning a round. I remember when I was a crew guy in qualifying I was never as quick as I was on race day because you are so pumped up. It is just so exciting getting that round win.
My Auto Club guys are out here timing themselves against all the other nitro teams. They are making it a priority to start before anyone else. Not just our teams but all the nitro teams. You can hear them in the pits. Then we want to get up to the staging lanes first. That is their race.
On-track performance is huge, but another big plus is when you can come back to the pits and get your work done before anyone else. When you are competitive you want to beat everybody at everything. It is good to have a team that thinks like that.
Look at my ETs on race day; 4.157, 4.157, 4.155 and then 4.149sec, that is pretty awesome. It has been a long time since my Auto Club Mustang has been that consistent. Jimmy Prock, my crew chief, has been doing a great job. Just to do that, I don't care who you are, these cars are not that consistent. When you look at clutch discs and we have a dyno to measure them. You see the variances even inside the same batch of clutch discs. You can pick 12 clutch discs from the same batch, dyno them, and there will be some variances. To get this Mustang to run that close all day long you have to give my crew guys credit because they put it together the same way and they are giving Jimmy something to tune. It is like a clock.
When I got out of my Mustang at the top end, the first thing I did was give Johnny Gray and his Service Center team a lot of credit. They stepped up in the final. I'll be honest, if you looked at that race on paper you would have thought we could have backed our car off a little, been safe and gone out there and won. If we would have done that against those guys that run we would not have been the winner. It was that close. They stepped up. It was big getting that win.
What is bigger is three in a row for John Force Racing to start 2011. It is not just individual wins it is team wins. You add in last year when John finished the season with two wins and we have five wins in a row. That is big. I read a story about Joe DiMaggio and his hitting streak. He said eventually the streak wore on him because the streak was all he thought about. He said it consumed him. We are going to be thinking about this streak a lot. We want to keep it going but one thing I am glad about now is we are racing every other week. You don't have all this dead time off between races. We are going to get into the groove and I think it will even make us better. When you are racing more often you can stay focused. I am excited this is the best start I have ever had.