Dallas: John Force Racing final report

FORCE REACHES HISTORIC FINAL AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX DALLAS, TX -- NHRA legend John Force was racing for history at the 25th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. He was racing in his 500th race with primary sponsor Castrol at...

FORCE REACHES HISTORIC FINAL AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX

DALLAS, TX -- NHRA legend John Force was racing for history at the 25th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. He was racing in his 500th race with primary sponsor Castrol at the 25th anniversary Fall Nationals. A win would have extended his points lead and added a record setting 131st Wally to his collection.

With a silver commemorative Wally on the line Force pulled up beside third year Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and his DieHard Dodge Charger in final. Both Funny Cars left together but just past half track Force's Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang got a little loose and Hagan's car stayed bolted to the track. Force was able to rein in his hot rod but Hagan got the win light, his third win of 2010, 4.155 seconds to 4.491 seconds. This was Force's 14th final round at the Fall Nationals which is his personal record for final rounds at an NHRA national event. He also has 14 final round appearances at the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

"That Full Throttle championship is just out there. It is out there for Robert Hight, Ashley (Force Hood) and myself. Plus there are a whole bunch of other kids out there gunning for it. There are three races left. Yeah, we moved out another round but that ain't enough," said the 14-time finalist at the Fall Nationals. "I really wanted this win here at Billy Meyer's Texas Motorplex. I wanted closure on my crash. Hagan got the win. I am going to come to this race track until I am 100 years old until I get closure on that day I flew out of here on that helicopter to Baylor hospital. I have a good race car. I am going to stay in the fight."

It was Force's ninth final of 2010 and the 221st of his illustrious career. He will leave the Texas Motorplex with a 25 point lead in the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings which is a 20 point or one round improvement. This was his second final of the six race Countdown to 1, the most of any Funny Car driver, and it has the 61 year-old 14-time Full Throttle champion in a good position to capture his unprecedented 15th personal world championship and 17th for John Force Racing.

"(Two finals to start Countdown) ain't enough momentum if you are going to win a championship. I am 61 years-old. Right now my heart today felt like I was 40. If I am 40, I can run with these kids."

The last time he raced Hagan was the second round of Sonoma which he also lost. Force is 4-2 versus Hagan in 2010 and 5-2 for his career which includes a win this year in the inaugural Four-wide Nationals in Charlotte.

Ashley Force Hood raced to the semi-finals picking up two round wins before being outrun by eventual winner Hagan. Her biggest win of the day came when she defeated Jack Beckman in the second round. Beckman was in position to possibly take the points lead had he continued to win rounds. With the win Force Hood ensured that her father and team leader John Force would leave the O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals with the points lead.

"(The Beckman win) was a huge round for us and for dad. We stopped someone who was gaining on him. Jack Beckman had done really well the race before getting to the final. Every round is a big round. First round is always big because if you qualified well you are going against someone who is going to throw everything they have at you," said Force Hood.

"They could run a really good time and you want to make sure you get down the track. We got past first round and second round. The semis our destiny changed and the coolness went away. I don't know how much that affected us. We went down the track but we didn't have lane choice and that round just wasn't ours. You can't control everything. We gave ourselves a shot to win by going A to B and we had a much better chance to win because we got down the track."

A John Force Racing Funny Car has held the points lead for over a full calendar year. The last time a non-JFR driver was in the points lead was September 20, 2009 when Tony Pedregon left zMax Dragway with a one point lead over Ashley Force Hood. At the next event, the 24th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals Robert Hight took the points lead and never relinquished it in 2009. Either Force or Hight have been in the points lead all of 2010.

The two-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner expanded her points lead on No.5 Bob Tasca III and will head to Reading, Pennsylvania for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals with a 56 point lead over Tasca which equates to at least three rounds of racing. She is 68 points out of first place and her first Full Throttle Funny Car championship.

"It has been a good weekend for us, not a great weekend, but a good one. If you look at the Countdown and you were to tell me in the first three races I would win Indy, go a couple rounds in Charlotte and reach the semi-finals in Dallas. The Charlotte race didn't affect us too bad because a lot of people around us lost early too. We are pretty happy if you could do that at every race. You can't expect if you didn't win a race all season to start the Countdown and win every race. That is the goal but it is really tough to do. You can expect to go rounds every race," said Force Hood.

"If you can do that it seems like one week one guy gets a little hot and then the next week it is someone else. If you can be the team that doesn't have all the ups and downs but consistently goes to the semis. You are giving yourself a really good chance. We are always trying to win. We can leave here satisfied with a semi-final finish," said the 2009 Full Throttle championship runner-up.

"We are still in 4th but we have gained on the drivers and teams in front of us and we added some rounds on the people behind us. We gained on the No. 2 spot. We might not have gained on my dad in first but we aren't super concerned about overtaking our teammates we want to get around all those other guys first and then get to No. 1."

In order for Force to have the successful day that he did, he was forced to prematurely end the race day of son-in-law and current Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight. In a tough first round match-up Force and Hight had to square off after they qualified No. 8 and No. 9, respectively.

Hight was flying the colors of AAA Texas this weekend on his Full Throttle championship commemorative Ford Mustang. With three races left Hight is 150 points behind Force. For a driver who made a historic run for his first championship in 2009 moving from 10th to 1st in the Countdown to 1 he will need that kind of magic to repeat as champion this season.

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Bob Tasca III