Columbus: John Force preview

Force confronts old demons in return to National Trail Castrol GTX High Mileage driver has won just three times COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13-15) -- Recent performance, including a national record-setting 4.721 second quarter mile just two weeks ago...

Force confronts old demons in return to National Trail

Castrol GTX High Mileage driver has won just three times

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 13-15) -- Recent performance, including a national record-setting 4.721 second quarter mile just two weeks ago at Joliet, Ill., suggest that John Force finally is poised to put his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang back in the winners' circle on the NHRA POWERade tour.

The likelihood that the 12-time series champion will do so this week, however, is mitigated by the fact that he is competing on a racetrack on which he has had comparatively little success since first he first climbed behind the wheel of a fuel Funny Car in 1974.

Over the course of a remarkable 25-year career, Force has reached the final round in more than 40 per cent of all the races in which he has participated (163 of 393).

Moreover, he's won 106 times, a figure that represents 26.9 per cent of the races he's run and 32.7 per cent of all the events contested in the NHRA series since he won for the first time in 1987.

Nevertheless, in 23 previous appearances in the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, contested this week at National Trail Raceway for the 39th time, Force has put a Funny Car in the final round just four times and celebrated in the winners' circle on only three occasions.

You do the math.

Certainly, for most of those against whom he is competing in the NHRA POWERade Series, including teammate and points leader Tony Pedregon, three victories in any event would be cause of celebration.

For drag racing's most prolific winner, however, the numbers are, well, anemic the worst, in fact, of any event in the series.

Nevertheless, regardless of what occurs in Sunday's eliminations, it still will be a happy Father's Day for the 1996 Driver of the Year and 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection.

That's because, after a two-month hiatus, he again will be competing on the same racetrack as his 20-year-old daughter, Ashley.

The second oldest of Force's four daughters, Ashley actually has won more racing rounds this season (competing in the Super Comp class) than has her father.

To Force's chagrin, however, his daughter has done most of her racing in the regional Lucas Oil Series, which allows more time for studies at California State University-Fullerton, where she is a senior majoring in Communications Entertainment.

"I've really missed her," Force said. "I want her to be (racing) with me every week, but we promised her mother that she'd finish (college) before she went racing full time."

Now that the current semester is over, Ashley will compete on the POWERade tour for the remainder of the summer. She hopes to graduate in December and be on the circuit with her dad, full-time, in 2004.

In the interim, Force is happy to get whatever time he can with her.

"They grow up so fast," said the 1996 Driver of the Year. "You look up and they're grown. I was always out there chasing my dream and I almost missed it all."

Now that Ashley has demonstrated a legitimate interest in the family business, Force is making up for lost time.

-www.johnforceracing.com-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force