CASTROL FORDS CAN'T CAPITALIZE ON QUALIFYING SUCCESS The Team Castrol Fords couldn't capitalize on a 1-2-4 qualifying performance at the rain-plagued fifth annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, opening the door to Gary...
CASTROL FORDS CAN'T CAPITALIZE ON QUALIFYING SUCCESS
The Team Castrol Fords couldn't capitalize on a 1-2-4 qualifying performance at the rain-plagued fifth annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, opening the door to Gary Scelzi, who drove the Oakley Dodge to its first victory of the season and drove himself into contention for the 2005 NHRA POWERade Championship.
Rain washed out all but one of the scheduled qualifying sessions and that ultimately proved the undoing of the Castrol Fords, each of which succumbed to traction problems on race day.
John Force, the defending champion in the Thunder Valley Nationals, was the first to fall, losing to arch rival Cruz Pedregon in the first round when his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford couldn't negotiate the tricky left lane, slowed from its qualifying pace of 4.821 to 7.096 seconds and lost to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Cruz Pedregon.
Force was followed to the sidelines by Robert Hight, whose Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang also was victimized by traction problems against the unsponsored Pontiac of journeyman Jack Wyatt.
In fact, the only member of the team to advance to round two was No. 1 qualifier Eric Medlen who survived a "pedalfest" with veteran Ron Capps to put the Castrol SYNTEC Mustang into round two. Unfortunately, without the choice of lanes, the former high school rodeo champion was all but doomed when he was put in the right lane, one in which he had not made a previous run during the weekend.
"We had a chance to make up some ground and we didn't," Force said. "All we can do is regroup and try to do better at Atlanta."
Despite his troubles, Force remained second in points behind Whit Bazemore, who also was a first round loser on Sunday. Hight fell to fifth place and Medlen climbed to seventh.
Ashley Force, driver of the Castrol/Hot Wheels Top Alcohol Dragster, was ousted in the semifinals of a regiona Lucas Series race at Dallas, Texas.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.821 seconds, 314.39 mph.
Race results: Lost to Cruz Pedregon.
Notable: Extended his record-shattering qualifying streak to 352 consecutive NHRA tour events.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.806 seconds, 325.22 mph.
Race results: Beat Ron Capps; lost to Jeff Arend.
Notable: Claimed third No. 1 qualifying bonus of his career and first of the 2005 season.
ROBERT HIGHT, 35, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.811 seconds, 326.63 mph.
Race results: Lost to Jack Wyatt.
Notable: Qualified in the Top 4 for the sixth consecutive race.