FORCE HAS FOES IN FOCUS IN BID FOR ANOTHER TITLE 14-Time Series Champ Seeks Eight win at Texas Motorplex ENNIS, Texas -- On the eve of this week's 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals, John Force may be down, but he's not yet out...
FORCE HAS FOES IN FOCUS IN BID FOR ANOTHER TITLE
14-Time Series Champ Seeks Eight win at Texas Motorplex
ENNIS, Texas -- On the eve of this week's 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals, John Force may be down, but he's not yet out in his bid to earn one of the final berths in the POWERade tour's Countdown to the Championship.
Facing title elimination for the second time this season, drag racing's most prolific winner will try to climb back into Funny Car contention this week on the all-concrete quarter mile that makes Billy Meyer's Texas Motorplex the most unique track in the series.
The 14-time and reigning NHRA Funny Car champion, Force figures he has his opponents right where he wants them: in plain sight.
Six of the seven drivers against whom he is competing for the $500,000 championship are ahead of him in the Countdown standings from which the final four will emerge following the Oct. 7 TORCO Racing Fuels Nationals at Richmond, Va.
"This team is the best when the pressure's on," Force said, "but we're pushing it right now. We don't need to win rounds any more; we need to win races. That's our focus this week, to come into the Motorplex and win the race."
Force has done that seven times in his career, most recently in 2005. However, in this, the most bizarre season in his 30-year career, it's difficult to know what to expect either from the driver or his 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX® High Mileage™ Ford.
Although he has won three races this season, as many as anyone else in the category, Force won just two rounds in the season's first 11 events, has failed to qualify for two races and has been guilty of a pair of foul starts.
Consistency, which once was the team's hallmark, has been non-existent. That said, no one is counting the 125-time tour winner out.
In 13th place at mid-season, Force fought his way into the Countdown by going to the finals five times in six events. That enabled him to scratch and claw his way all the way up to third place.
Then, when it appeared that the planets were back in alignment, the 125-time tour winner failed to qualify for the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., an event from when he had started from the front of the pack 11 times in the previous 16 years.
The upshot is that after making up so much ground in July and August, the 14-time Auto Racing All-America selection has given it back in September.
"Our goal is to hurt some feelings this week," Force said. "We stayed and tested last week after Memphis (the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals). Now we've just got to go out and do our jobs for Castrol and Ford and the Auto Club."
Force has enjoyed some of his finest career moments at the Motorplex where in 1998 he became the first Funny Car driver to cover the standard distance in fewer than 4.80 seconds (4.787 seconds).
Although he lost to Ron Capps in the first round a year ago, he has put a Castrol GTX Funny Car in the final round in 10 of his last 15 appearances in the Fall Nationals, winning in 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2005.