Denver: John Force preview

FOR FORCE, SHORT IS SWEET AT 29th MILE-HIGH NATIONALS Funny Car Icon Tries to Be First to Win at 1,000 Feet DENVER, Colo. -- Citing crew chief Austin Coil, who has contended that a shorter racetrack will have little, if any, effect on the...

FOR FORCE, SHORT IS SWEET AT 29th MILE-HIGH NATIONALS
Funny Car Icon Tries to Be First to Win at 1,000 Feet

DENVER, Colo. -- Citing crew chief Austin Coil, who has contended that a shorter racetrack will have little, if any, effect on the competition at this week's 29th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals, John Force said Thursday that while he is keeping an open mind toward other alternatives, he "would have no problem racing to 1,000 feet for the rest of my career."

Force's comments came on the heels of the NHRA's decision to contest Funny Car and Top Fuel championships on a Bandimere Speedway track 320 feet short of the standard quarter mile distance.

Responding to the accident earlier this month that claimed the life of two-time World Champion Scott Kalitta, NHRA officials felt that reducing the length of the race course was the best short term response to concerns about stopping distances for cars traveling at 320-plus miles per hour.

"I've been racing to 1,000 feet my whole career," Force said. "I just went past it a little, that's all. The only difference I see (with this week's race) is where you put on the brakes, step off the gas and (deploy) the parachutes and that's a no brainer."

Coil, who's been on board for all 126 of Force's tour victories and each of the 14 championships earned by the 59-year-old icon in a series of Castrol GTX Funny Cars, was more specific.

"The way I see it, we have been racing to 1,000 feet for years and (just) hanging on for the last 320 feet," he said. "This change is nothing but good (because at the finish line) is when the tracks get a little slippery and you get (the most) parts breakage.

"This change really won't affect performance numbers that much for the fans," Coil continued, "(because) the speeds and times won't be that much slower. This change just provides everyone more room to slow down.

"We can still race hard," said the Hall-of-Fame crew chief. "The Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters are on rev limiters and, like I've said, when you're on the rev limiter, you really aren't seriously racing anyway."

The rev limiter, which was mandated by the NHRA in an earlier effort to reduce the escalating speeds achieved by vehicles in the sport's featured categories, operates by retarding timing when the engine speed exceeds the NHRA specification.

Force, who launched his own safety initiative following the death of teammate and prot‚g‚ Eric Medlen last year in a testing accident, is just nine months removed from a crash of his own that left him with multiple injuries to all four extremities.

Despite a difficult and lengthy rehabilitation, the former Driver of the Year (1996) returns to Bandimere Speedway(1996) well-positioned to claim one of the 10 spots in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff system that will crown 2008 POWERade champions in Funny Car and three other pro categories.

Although he still undergoes weekly physical therapy, Force has put Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang in the final round two times this season and his victory at Topeka, Kan., enable him to extend to 22 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one tour event.

-credit: jfr Castrol.com/US

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Scott Kalitta , Eric Medlen , Austin Coil