Winners Circle Eludes Castrol Drivers at Atlanta On a weekend in which his daughter reached the final round for the first time in her career, John Force fell short in his bid for a second straight NHRA tour victory and slipped a position in the...
Winners Circle Eludes Castrol Drivers at Atlanta
On a weekend in which his daughter reached the final round for the first time in her career, John Force fell short in his bid for a second straight NHRA tour victory and slipped a position in the POWERade Funny Car standings after losing in the openilng round of the 24th annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
The champion's lost weekend began in qualifying where he was unable to capitalize on Friday evening's pristine conditions and wound up only 9th in the 16-car field. That left him and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford without the choice of lanes for a round one match in which Phil Burkart Jr. posted the quick time of eliminations at 4.829 seconds.
It was Force's second first round exit in the last four years in an event in which he has reached the finals 12 times.
The other Team Castrol members didn't fare much better. Rookie Eric Medlen made it to round two at the wheel of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang but only because he raced teammate Gary Densham in the opening stanza.
Medlen managed to salvage a little something, however, by earning the Motel 6 "Who Got the Light?" award for the third time in the last four races. The award, presented to the winning pro driver in the race decided by the narrowest margin, includes a $1,000 bonus. Medlen's margin of victory over Densham was .0044 of second.
Despite their struggles, Force, Densham and Medlen remained well positioned in the race for the 2004 POWERade championship. Force is third, Densham sixth and Medlen seventh in a championship chase in which just 116 points separate No. 1 and No. 8.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.894 seconds, 313.88 mph.
Race results: Lost to Phil Burkart.
Notable: Extended qualifying record to 330 consecutive events but lost in the first round at Atlanta for the second time in four years.
ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.828 seconds, 318.39 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Densham; lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Despite best showing for the team, dropped to seventh place in points.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford
Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 11th at 4.927 seconds, 315.42 mph.
Race results: Lost to Eric Medlen.
Notable: Lost to teammate Eric Medlen by a mere .004 of a second.
NEXT EVENTS: 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.