JOHN FORCE CAPTURES HIS RECORD 15th NHRA FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE CASTROL GTX FORD MUSTANG
POMONA, Calif., November 14, 2010 - Hall of Fame driver John Force capped a remarkable 2010 season and comeback from a near fatal accident at Dallas three years ago by winning a record 15th NHRA Funny Car championship in dramatic fashion at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona on Sunday.
Force, who held the points lead for all but two events this season, had to overcome 40-point deficit in the final event to edge Matt Hagan for the championship. Hagan was unable to protect the championship lead, losing to Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang driver Bob Tasca III in the opening round. Tasca's win opened the door for Force, who had to advance to the semifinals to clinch the championship. With Hagan already eliminated, Force, the second fastest qualifier for the event, defeated Gary Densham in Round 1 and Bob Bode in Round 2.
Force went on to win the Pomona event, topping Jeff Arend in the finals to cap his day.
"You always think of the first championship as the greatest, but I lived in the gym for the last three years to get my legs back and arms back to where I could drive my car," said an emotional Force. "I owed that to my kids who were by me and my wife and family. They knew racing was the only thing that I know they didn't want me to come home and retire. The sponsors stood by me and then Mike Neff stepped up and teamed up with Austin Coil and Bernie [Federly] and we have a bad Ford hot rod. Things couldn't be better."
Force's championship is his 15th as a driver and the 17th Funny Car title as owner of John Force Racing. It is also the 11th championship for John Force Racing with Ford Motor Company, the most of any NHRA team. Force's championship is the 26th professional title for Ford Motor Company in NHRA.
"It has been a long road back, but thanks to Ford and their engineers that gave me a car that we knew we could win with. Robert Hight won in it last year with the Auto Club Ford, and I won in it this year. A big part of it is the confidence that you know you are safe if you have a crash. At the end of the day, 25 years with Castrol, this thing just goes on and on. I am excited and healed. I feel like I am 40 years old again. At 61, I was able to run with the kids today and we won. Life couldn't be better, but this championship is a testament to the sponsors and the fans who could have turned away but didn't. I promised I would win again and we did."
The championship continues a remarkable and unprecedented run for John Force Racing, Force's success today marks back-to-back championships, with Robert Hight winning in 2009 and now Force in 2010, but it continues a run of 17 championships in 21 seasons. No other entity in professional sports, let alone racing, can claim such an era of domination.
"The key is surrounding yourself with good people," said Force. "I've lived this racing for 33 years and I have had good sponsors who support you and don't put the pressure on you when you can't deliver and always stand by you. I have always had that positive attitude. Then to have a team where you make change and still win. The way that we have won with the team concept, the 'One Ford' concept is what it is all about. We aren't done yet. Robert Hight won last year and my daughter Ashley was second last year and third this year."
"Words cannot describe what I feel, because of the drama and what it took to win," said Jamie Allison Ford Director North America Motorsports. "To me, this championship solidifies and defines our 'One Ford' approach. It was a total team effort of [Bob] Tasca having to defeat the points leader in order to pave the way for John to win. That shows the unity of teamwork. The accolades are just going to flow. When you have accomplished as much as John Force has and you stand at the pinnacle of the sport as he has and you have outreach to the fans, he just brings it all together. We are so blessed and so happy that his success is with Ford."
The 2010 season has been a triumphant return for John Force. After failing to win a race for the first time in 22 years in 2009, Force showed he had returned to form with a torrid start to the season winning twice and going to three final rounds in the first five races. Force held the points lead for all but two events this season leading up to the Countdown to 1. When Force went to the finals at the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, where he lost to his daughter Ashley, Force led after the first round of the Countdown. However, a disastrous weekend at Reading, where a mechanical failure left him unable to run the opening round, erased his championship lead and dropped him to second behind rising star Matt Hagan.
Faced with a 64-point deficit and just two races to go in the season, Force and his team found a way to recapture the early season magic and never lost again winning at Las Vegas and Pomona.
Force won six races in 2010, pushing his career total to 132.
Force will have a busy week celebrating his title. In addition to the annual NHRA banquet Monday, the newly-crowned champion will be flying to Miami for next week's Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway where he will be joined by other Ford Racing champions.
-source: ford racing