Bristol: John Force Racing final summary

Force Claims 110th Career Victory John Force celebrated his 55th birthday by winning for the 110th time in his career and moving to within 42 points of the NHRA POWERade points lead. Force beat long time rival Whit Bazemore in the final round...

Force Claims 110th Career Victory

John Force celebrated his 55th birthday by winning for the 110th time in his career and moving to within 42 points of the NHRA POWERade points lead. Force beat long time rival Whit Bazemore in the final round of the rain-delayed fourth annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Thunder Valley Nationals.

For Force, the victory extended to 18 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA tour event. It was his first win at Bristol Dragway, the only track in the POWERade Series on which the 12-time series champion hadn't previously reached the winners' circle.

Force got a big boost from teammate Eric Medlen, the rookie driver of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang, who reached the semifinals for the third time in six pro starts and moved into fifth place in points.

Medlen beat the man he replaced behind the wheel of the SYNTEC Ford, Tony Pedregon, in round one and then took out points leader Del Worsham in round two.

"It's a long season," Force said, "but it's good to get back to the winners' circle. My Crew Chiefs, Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly, gave me a great race car. I wasn't on my game most of the day but it didn't matter with the hot rod they gave me. Eric did his job and I finally won at Bristol. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would."

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 54, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.817 seconds, 322.50 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Gary Densham, Cruz Pedregon and Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Won his first race of the 2004 season and his first race at Bristol Dragway and extended to 329 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "Man, it's good to finally win Bristol. It's only been seven races since we won, but it seemed like forever. I'll never taking winning for granted." -- JOHN FORCE.

ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.832 seconds, 318.24 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Pedregon, Del Worsham; lost to Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Reached the semifinals for the third time in his first six pro races and moved up to fifth in POWERade points.
Quotable: "Well, we've found out how to get to the semifinals. Now we have to go to the next round. It was great to be able to help the boss out (by beating Worsham)."-- ERIC MEDLEN

GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.840 seconds, 322.55 mph.
Race results: Beat Ron Capps; lost to John Force.
Notable: Held onto third place in points.
Quotable: "We're pretty disappointed. We were loaded up for John but had a clutch problem. We beat him at Pomona. He beat us here." -- GARY DENSHAM.

NEXT EVENTS: Summit Southern Nationals, Atlanta, Ga., May 14.-16; Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., May 21-23; O'Reilly Summer Nationals, Topeka, Kan., May 28-30; Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 11-13; K&N Filters SuperNationals, Englishtown, N.J., June 18-20; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill. (St. Louis), June 25-27.

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Eric Medlen , Austin Coil