'Foul Weather' For Castrol Funny Cars At Englishtown

Highlights: Better than anticipated traction proved the undoing of Team Castrol drivers Tony Pedregon and John Force at the 34th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. For the first time in history, both Castrol...

Highlights: Better than anticipated traction proved the undoing of Team Castrol drivers Tony Pedregon and John Force at the 34th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

For the first time in history, both Castrol drivers were victimized by foul starts in the same event.

Force, the No. 2 qualifier, was the first to fall. The 106-time tour winner fouled out by a narrow .002 of a second in a second round match with Ron Capps. Pedregon, who qualified No. 1 for the fifth time at Raceway Park and for the fourth time in the last five years, followed a round later against Whit Bazemore

"It's kinda embarrassing," Force said. "Your crew works so hard to give you a race car that can win and this happens. I'm just glad we have another race in four days so I can try and make it up to them. The traction was so good that apparently the cars moved quicker than they usually do. There was absolutely no tire spin.

"To be honest, I didn't see the (red light). I was ready to do my interview and they went over to Capps instead."

Pedregon, a four-time winner this year, again couldn't overcome the stigma that has become attached to the No. 1 qualifying position. Pedregon now has qualified No. 1 four times this season and those are the only four races he HAS NOT won.

Despite his semifinal ouster, Pedregon remained solidly in the POWERade points lead in an ongoing bid to succeed Force as the NHRA Funny Car Champion. Force has won the title 10 straight years and 12 times in the last 13 seasons.

Special: Chris Bohland, an 18-year-old aspiring auto tech from Melville, N.Y., was an honorary crew member on the John Force-driven Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang during the K&N SuperNationals. Bohland is one of eight high school-age students selected from hundreds of nominees as a Castrol GTX Top Tech. In addition to tickets to this week's races, he will receive souvenir apparel from Castrol GTX, a Mac Tools toolbox and $1,000 in tools and the donation of Castrol GTX and Castrol GTX High Mileage motor oil for use in his school's vocational automotive program. Bohland is a senior at Half Hollow Hills East H.S. He has trained with the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, is a member of the National Vocational-Technical Honor Society and will participate this year in the Ford/AAA Auto Troubleshooting Contest.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.799 seconds, 317.19 mph.
Race results: Beat Jack Wyatt; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Was guilty of a .002 of a second foul start.

Quotable: "I saw amber (the preliminary to the green light), but it gave me a red light. I feel bad for my guys. The worked really hard to give me a good race car. The good news is that we've got a hot rod again and we've got another race in four days."

TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 1 at 4.760 seconds, 322.50 mph.
Race results: Beat Terry Haddock, Gary Scelzi; lost to Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Qualified No. 1 for the fourth time in five years at Raceway Park and for the fourth time in eight races this year by breaking his own track record (4.777).

Quotable: "What can I say? It's a real disappointing result. I'm just glad we're going to Topeka this week (where he has won the O'Reilly Summer Nationals each of the last two years) so we can put this race behind us."

GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car:
Qualifying position and performance: No. 11 at 4.876, 312.93 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Retained fourth place in points despite first round loss.

Quotable: "It was just one of those weekends. We got behind on the first run and never caught up. Lucky there's another race next week where we can redeem ourselves."

Next events: O'Reilly Summer Nationals, Topeka, Kan., May 23-25; Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., May 30-June 1; Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 13-15; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill., June 27-29; Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Denver, Colo., July 18-20; Carquest Nationals, Seattle, Wash., July 25-27.

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Wyatt , Terry Haddock