12-Time Series Champ Seeks 11th Win at Brainerd Raceway BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 13-15) -- Of the two NHRA POWERade Series racetracks on which John Force has earned double digit career victories, Brainerd International Raceway, site of this ...
12-Time Series Champ Seeks 11th Win at Brainerd Raceway
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 13-15) -- Of the two NHRA POWERade Series racetracks on which John Force has earned double digit career victories, Brainerd International Raceway, site of this week's 23rd annual Lucas Oil Nationals, is the only one on which he's managed to do so in the context of a single event.
That can't be good news for rivals trying to catch the 55-year-old drag racing icon, who leads the current POWERade standings at the wheel of the Castrol GTX® Start Up™ Ford Mustang.
A 112-time tour winner, Force played only a supporting role last season while teammate Tony Pedregon starred in an award-winning production that culminated in yet another NHRA championship, the 11th straight for John Force Racing. Inc.
However, when Pedregon opted to leave the team after eight seasons to join brother Cruz in an all-Hispanic racing endeavor, it stoked Force's competitive fire.
"It got me motivated," Force said of Pedregon's departure. "I know Tony knows how to win and Cruz, too, because they both beat me for the championship, but I wanted to go out and prove that I could still race with all these kids. I still like the fight."
His performance this season would suggest that, yes, the 12-time series champion still has the skills needed to perform at the sport's highest level.
He's been in almost half of all the final rounds this season (seven), has won three times and, a foul start two weeks ago at Sonoma, Calif., notwithstanding, he has been driving, by his own estimation, "pretty good."
By winning one of the three races in the Western Swing (the CARQUEST Nationals at Seattle), Force extended to 15 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least three tour events.
As a result, the 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection leads second place Whit Bazemore by 146 points returning to a track on which he has won 10 times in the last 16 years.
Nevertheless, the 1996 Driver of the Year, the only drag racer on whom that honor ever has been bestowed, still is smarting not only from the foul start at Sonoma that cost him an almost certain victory.
"My crew gave me a great race car and I delivered runner-up," Force said. "That's not what the pay me for. I was too energized and I just made a mistake."
However, for those who once again are seeing way too much of the south end of Force's northbound GTX Start-Up Mustang, the fact that the sport's biggest winner occasionally has proven himself to be human is little cause for celebration.
The fact is Force's Ford again is the dominant race car in the series thanks to an unintentional assist from the NHRA. The sanctioning body's decision to reduce the percentage of nitromethane in the fuel mix for the second time in five years threw most crew chiefs a wicked curve -- but not Austin Coil, architect of all of Force's victories.
Coil needed just one run to get the 85 per cent nitro mix just right. The upshot is that Force will be bidding this week for his third consecutive No. 1 start and his third trip to the finals since the new rule went into effect.