Denver: Team Force looks for dominance

Team Force looking for mile-high dominance in Denver MORRISON, Colo.- They say two minds are better than one. Does that relate to the cars of drag racing as well? If so, maybe the saying should be 'Three cars are better than one.' The three-car...

Team Force looking for mile-high dominance in Denver

MORRISON, Colo.- They say two minds are better than one. Does that relate to the cars of drag racing as well? If so, maybe the saying should be 'Three cars are better than one.' The three-car team of John Force Racing has been unstoppable at times this season, and currently holds the top three positions in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings.

Team owner John Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang have claimed three wins and two runner-up finishes this season. Tony Pedregon, driver of the Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang, also has two victories this year. Gary Densham, the newest addition to Team Force, has earned two wins and one runner-up in the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang.

Densham joined the team three races into the 2001 season. He was winless before he hopped into the Force-owned Mustang, but that has all since changed. Not only has Densham become a regular threat to every race, he has been at the top of the Funny Car point standings too. Densham became only the sixth Funny Car driver in the last 13 years to hold the points lead for three or more consecutive races.

"It's all good," Densham said. "I always thought I would win a race but I never thought I would lead the points. It's a credit to my crew, to John Force and especially my crew chief, Jimmy Prock."

Force, Pedregon and Densham will be competing against each other and the rest of a tough Funny Car field at the 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 18-21, at Bandimere Speedway. Larry Dixon, Force, Warren Johnson and Angelle Savoie are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

While each driver will tell you that they all get along well, they each have the competitive desire to lead the Funny Car order. Pedregon is looking to change the order in the Force camp.

"That's pretty remarkable to be in the top three spots of the standings," Pedregon said. "For each of us to win two races, for each of us to have qualified No. 1 says a lot about the kind of operation John has put together here. The only thing I would change is the order. Right now, Gary and John are ahead of me. We'll try to do something about that soon."

If one thing seems more surprising than Densham's climb to the top of the standings is the lack of a dominating performance by Force himself. The 11-time champion had four wins and four runner-ups going into the 2001 Denver event.

"We learned something testing (recently) and that should help us," Force said. "With the Funny Car group out here right now, you need every advantage. People keep asking, 'What's wrong?' There's nothing wrong, just a lot of good race teams our there right now."

Two of the better teams out there are pitted right next to Force. Densham knows being part of the Force team has been the difference in his recent success.

"The best way I can explain it is that when you're driving one of John's cars, there's a kind of intimidation effect," Densham said. "Even when you're not running good, the competition knows that there's always the chance that you're going to jump up and throw the low elapsed time at them, and they have to prepare accordingly."

More than halfway into the season, each of the three Force cars have an eye out for the Funny Car championship. Densham knows what it is going to take to hold off the competition - that's something he has learned from watching his own boss.

"Winning the championship is different from winning a given race," Densham said. "To win the championship, you have to be competitive every week and that's how John has won 11 times. A lot of drivers run well at a few race tracks. John generally runs well at all of them. He wins his round even when his car isn't perfect. That's something we have been able to do so far this year too."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , John Force