Denver: John Force Racing final summary

Castrol Highlight: John Force beat Whit Bazemore for the 13th time in their last 14 meetings and moved to within 26 points of pacesetting Ron Capps in the battle for the 2006 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship. CASTROL FORDS STRUGGLE IN THE...

Castrol Highlight:

John Force beat Whit Bazemore for the 13th time in their last 14 meetings and moved to within 26 points of pacesetting Ron Capps in the battle for the 2006 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship.

CASTROL FORDS STRUGGLE IN THE HEAT IN MILE-HIGH NATIONALS

John Force closed the gap on points leader Ron Capps but the Team Castrol Fords couldn't solve the heat and height in the 27th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway Park.

Record-shattering 103 degree temperatures, combined with the track's 5,300 foot elevation proved too much for all but a handful of race teams.

Neither of the Fords managed to advance beyond the second round, the worst showing for the team since the SummitRacing.com Nationals last April in Las Vegas, Nev., when Force and Eric Medlen lost in the second round and Robert Hight in the first.

This time, all three drivers won their first round tests even though two of them -- Force and Medlen -- didn't have the benefit of lane choice.

Force's win, at the expense of arch rival Whit Bazemore, was the team's most important because it enabled him to gain ground on Capps. Capps, a five-time winner this season, lost in round one to unheralded Bob Gilbertson, who went on to beat Hight, the defending Mile-High champion, in round two.

Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford, strengthened his hold on third place in POWERade points but Medlen slid from fifth to seventh in the Castrol SYNTEC Ford.

With the Fords and Capps on the sidelines, reigning NHRA Champ Gary Scelzi won his first race of the year, joining rookie J.R. Tood, a first time winner in Top Fuel, and David Connolly in the winners' circle.

The tour moves this week to Seattle Raceways, Inc., for the 19th annual Schuck's Auto Parts Nationals.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Qualifying position and performance: 10th at 4.984 seconds, 314.31 mph. Race results: Beat Whit Bazemore; lost to Gary Scelzi. Notable: Moved to within 26 points of pacesetting Ron Capps in the race for the 2006 NHRA POWERade championship.

ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Qualifying position and performance: 11th at 5.019 seconds, 309.42 mph. Race results: Beat Phil Burkart Jr.; lost to Tommy Johnson Jr. Notable: Fell from fifth to seventh in points.

ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.916 seconds, 301.87 mph. Race results: Beat Tony Bartone; lost to Bob Gilbertson. Notable: Failed to successfully defend his championship but gained a round on Ron Capps and solidified his hold on third place in Funny Car points.

NEXT EVENTS:

July 21-23 Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals Seattle, Wash. July 28-30 FRAM/Autolite Nationals Sonoma, Calif. Aug. 11-13 Lucas Oil Nationals Brainerd, Minn. Aug. 18-20 O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-South Nationals Memphis, Tenn. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Indiananapolis, Ind.

-www.Castrol.com/us-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Tony Bartone , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , David Connolly , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Tommy Johnson Jr.