FORCE REGAINS POINTS LEAD AT O'REILLY FALL NATIONALS Facing virtual elimination from the 2005 NHRA POWERade Funny Car Championship chase, John Force recaptured some of his past magic Sunday, winning the 20th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall ...
FORCE REGAINS POINTS LEAD AT O'REILLY FALL NATIONALS
Facing virtual elimination from the 2005 NHRA POWERade Funny Car Championship chase, John Force recaptured some of his past magic Sunday, winning the 20th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals and pushing his way back into the points lead at the wheel of the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang.
The 13-time series champion got a free ride to his 119th NHRA tour victory when final round opponent Frank Pedregon was forced to abort his run because of a fuel pump malfunction. Even though was unopposed, Force posted the quickest time of the day in the final round at 4.797 seconds.
The victory, fifth of the season for the 12-time Auto Racing All-America selection and his seventh at the Texas Motorplex, pushed Force into a 36-point lead over Gary Scelzi, who was guilty of a first round foul start that opened the door for Force.
Only the No. 7 qualifier, Force beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in round one, Tim Wilkerson in round two and Tony Bartone in the semis to reach the final round for the 187th time in his 30-year career.
"You win with heart," Force said. "There's a young guy inside this old body and I found him today. I found the fountain of youth. I know my time's running out. I've got five or six years good years left, but they're wearing me down. I'm looking at Eric (Medlen) and Robert (Hight) and (daughters) Brittany and Courtney and, especially, my daughter Ashley, to keep this thing rolling.
"We made magic today, but next week it can be turned right back around. I' m no miracle worker. Next week I could go out there and lose in the first round (like he's done nine times this season) and Scelzi could be right back in the points lead."
Force attributed the victory, his first since May 29th, to a change made by co-crew chiefs Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly and to a note written to him by Ashley.
"My car was junk this weekend," the 12-time Auto Racing All-American said. "It only made one run and then all of sudden, Coil found his magic again. This morning we got together and I said, 'what're you doing?' and he said, ' the new stuff we're trying is not working' so we're going back to what we know."
As to the note from is daughter, Force said: "it rejuvenated me and all of a sudden it wasn't about winning the championship. To be honest, I didn't think about (the championship) all day. I was just happy. You know, I've got a great team and I just love to drive my race car."
Medlen, driver of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford, and Hight, driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang, both exited in the first round, victims of tire shake. They were joined on the sidelines by Scelzi, the former points leader, and Ron Capps, who was beaten in round two.
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TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.737 seconds, 326.40 mph.
Race results: Beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Tim Wilkerson, Tony Bartone and Frank Pedregon.
Notable: Regained the POWERade points lead by winning his 119th tour event, his fifth on the 2005 season.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.698 seconds, 322.96 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Became seventh Funny Car driver to break the 4.70 second barrier.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.711 seconds, 327.00 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tony Bartone.
Notable: Became sixth Funny Car driver to officially break the 330 mph barrier.
ASHLEY FORCE, 22, Castrol/Hot Wheels A/Fuel dragster (Top Alcohol Dragster division)
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 5.317 seconds, 268.22 mph.
Race results: Beat Brandon Pierce, John Haley; lost to Steve Torrence.
Notable: Best qualifying and race day performances in the last four races.
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Oct. 21-23 ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals Las Vegas, Nevada
Nov. 3-6 Auto Club of S.C. Finals Pomona, Calif.