Denver: John Force preview

Force hopes season's 13th race is a lucky one for Castrol Ford After consecutive runner-up finishes, Champ hopes to end drought DENVER, Colo. (July 18-20) -- At each of the last two events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series the June...

Force hopes season's 13th race is a lucky one for Castrol Ford

After consecutive runner-up finishes, Champ hopes to end drought

DENVER, Colo. (July 18-20) -- At each of the last two events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series the June 15th Pontiac Excitement Nationals at Columbus, Ohio, and the June 29th Sears Craftsman Nationals at Madison, Ill. John Force and his Castrol GTX® High Mileage Ford Mustang knocked heavily on the door of opportunity.

Will this be the week they finally kick it in?

Drag racing's biggest name, winner of a record 106 NHRA tour events and 12 series championships, including 10-in-a-row, Force reaches the 13th race of his decidedly unlucky "Lucky 13 Tour" still seeking his first victory of the 2003 campaign.

It's almost uncharted territory for the 54-year-old drag racing icon who comes into the 24th Mopar Mile-High Nationals, the season's 13th race, languishing in sixth place in Funny Car driver points.

In a sport in which a Top 10 finish usually is a realistic goal, sixth wouldn't be a cause for concern if you were anyone other than John Force.

But when you've won 36 per cent of all the races contested for the last 11 seasons (85 of 222), sixth is a red flag, an indication to some, in fact, that after 13 seasons of total domination, Force finally may be reverting to human form.

Consider that this is just the second time in the last 14 seasons that he has rolled into Bandimere Speedway NOT leading the point standings. The only other time was in the 2000season, when he was second to Jerry Toliver.

Of course, it's not like the 11-time Auto Racing All-American just woke up one morning and discovered he no longer could compete.

He has "competed" just fine. He just hasn't won.

Runner-up at the last two races, he has a pair of Budweiser No. 1 qualifying awards to his credit along with a 4.721 second NHRA national record, a thousandth of a second quicker than the previous mark which, not surprisingly, was his.

"We've made a lot of changes to our 'ol race car," Force said, "and then I made a lot of changes in how I drive it. My burnouts are shorter. I've had to adjust how I set up at the (starting) line because of the changes in the starting system (brighter LED bulbs improved the champion's reaction times to the point that he endured back-to-back foul starts earlier in the year). It hasn't been just one thing."

"I won't say that we're back, not yet.  Not until we show some consistency and
win a race, but we're a lot closer.  (Crew Chiefs Austin) Coil and Bernie (Fedderly) are
getting a handle on things.  I told 'em, 'you fix the car; I'll fix the driver.'

"Fortunately, Tony's been winning," Force said, referencing teammate and points leader Tony Pedregon. "That's given me a boost. And Densham (Gary Densham, driver of the third Force-owned Ford), he's up there (in points), too."

Although his streak of consecutive championships appears to be over (he trails his teammate by a whopping 403 points), Force still is focused on moving up in the standings.

"If we keep winnings rounds, I still think we can be a top three car," Force said. "Bottom line, we're trying to get ready to race five years down the road. You can't just sit still. You have to improve."

-www.johnforceracing.com-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Gary Densham , Jerry Toliver