CASTROL MUSTANGS OUSTED IN SPRING NATIONALS SEMIFINALS Sometimes the best cars don't win. That was the case in Sunday's 19th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park where John Force and Eric Medlen both were ousted...
CASTROL MUSTANGS OUSTED IN SPRING NATIONALS SEMIFINALS
Sometimes the best cars don't win. That was the case in Sunday's 19th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park where John Force and Eric Medlen both were ousted in the semifinals when their Castrol-backed Ford Mustangs suffered mechanical problems.
That brought an unexpected end to a weekend that began with Team Castrol Fords occupying the one, two and three qualifying positions.
Force, who started from the No. 1 qualifying position for the third time in four races in the Castrol GTX Mustang, was victimized by an engine misfire which led to a supercharger failure in his semifinal race with points leader Ron Capps. Capps won in 4.847 seconds. Force slowed to 4.985 seconds and, to add insult, was disqualified when he crossed the centerline while fighting for control after the supercharger failed.
Medlen's Castrol SYNTEC Mustang, which had started the race from the No. 3 position, suffered a similar fate against the Chevrolet of Bob Gilbertson which won the other semifinal in 5.012 seconds.
Capps went on to beat Gilbertson and, in the process, extend his lead over Force to 68 points as the tour moves this week to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the SummitRacing.com Nationals.
The third of the Team Castrol Fords, the Auto Club Mustang driven to the No. 2 qualifying position by Robert Hight, exited in the very first round when a supercharger drive belt broke.
"We've got three good race cars," Force said, "but sometimes it's just fate. The good news is that we're all in the top five (Force is second, Hight third and Medlen fifth) and there's a lot of racing left to do."
Ashley Force, the 23-year-old driver of the Castrol dragster, lost her second round match in the Top Alcohol Dragster class to reigning world champion Steve Torrence, but her 17-year-old sister, Courtney, won four rounds of racing in Super Comp before exiting in the semifinals in the best showing of her brief career.
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TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.695 seconds, 328.06 mph.
Race results: Beat Jim Head, Tony Pedregon; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Extended to 373 the number of consecutive events for which he has qualified at Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "(In the semifinals) it had a hole out (running on only seven cylinders) at the hit (of the throttle). Then it blew up. But I don't want to take anything away from Ron Capps. They're racing smart and that's why they' re in the points lead." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.725 seconds, 325.06 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Gary Densham; lost to Bob Gilbertson.
Notable: Reached the semifinals for the second consecutive race and moved up to fifth place in points.
Quotable: "It was an okay (performance). We had a fast car but for some reason it didn't respond (in the semifinals). It's a little frustrating to run as well as we all did and not have more to show for it." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.721 seconds, 324.44 mph.
Race results: Lost to Bob Gilbertson.
Notable: Supercharger drive belt failure prematurely ended bid to defend Spring Nationals championship.
Quotable: "That was the nicest, smoothest pass of the weekend until the blower belt gave way. The good news is we go right to Vegas next weekend so we don 't have time to dwell on this loss since it was out of our control." -- ROBERT HIGHT.
ASHLEY FORCE, 23, Castrol Top Alcohol Dragster
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 5.374 seconds, 262.18 mph.
Race results: Beat Kevin Brown; lost to Steve Torrence.
Notable: Continued series of strong qualifying performances but was guilty of a foul start in her second round race with reigning NHRA Lucas Sportsman Series Champion Steve Torrence.