HEAT TAKES OUT THE TEAM AT K&N FILTERS SUPERNATIONALS Ashley Reaches Semifinals, But Funny Cars Ousted Early A hot racing surface proved the undoing of the Team Castrol Ford Mustangs, all of which were on the sidelines after the second round ...
HEAT TAKES OUT THE TEAM AT K&N FILTERS SUPERNATIONALS
Ashley Reaches Semifinals, But Funny Cars Ousted Early
A hot racing surface proved the undoing of the Team Castrol Ford Mustangs, all of which were on the sidelines after the second round of racing in the 37th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
With the Castrol Fords suffering through their collective worst performance of the 2006 season, Ron Capps was able to extend his lead over 13-time Funny Car Champion John Force to 106 points as the tour moves this week to Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., for the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals.
Despite Sunday's performance, Force and teammates Robert Hight and Eric Medlen remain 2-3-4 in POWERade points as the season races to its midpoint.
"We're still in good position," Force said, "but the championship is going to be decided in the heat, so we're gonna have to get better in the heat. That's usually where we shine but these new Mustangs want to run 4.79 when we need to run 4.97 like Capps."
Force lasted longer than his mates, but only by one round. The No. 8 qualifier, he disposed of Whit Bazemore in the first round, 4.946-to-4.994, but couldn't get around No. 1 qualifier Tony Bartone in the second. It was Force's first loss in 10 career meetings with Bartone.
Eric Medlen and Robert Hight both were victimized by mechanical problems in first round losses to Phil Burkart Jr. and Tim Wilkerson, respectively.
The most successful of the Team Castrol drivers was Ashley Force, the 23-year-old daughter of the 120-time tour winner, who reached the semifinals of Top Alcohol in a Castrol dragster owned by Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows.
JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.833 seconds, 319.07 mph.
Race results: Beat Whit Bazemore; lost to Tony Bartone.
Notable: Qualified for his 380th consecutive event, a record.
Quotable: "Well, Capps is back up 100 points. The heat got us. Cappsie can 4.97 his way down a hot racetrack but ours wants to run 4.79. All you can do is regroup and try to do better at next one." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.816 seconds, 318.17 mph.
Race results: Lost to Phil Burkart Jr.
Notable: First first round loss in the last nine races.
Quotable:"It was one of those days. We thought we had it softened up enough but apparently we got hold of a unusually aggressive clutch pack. We'll just have to make it up at St. Louis." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.801 seconds, 322.34 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Retained strong hold on third place in points behind Ron Capps and John Force.
Quotable: "Jimmy (crew chief Jimmy Prock) said that's the first time this car has dropped a cylinder at the step (at the hit of the throttle) in three years. We felt really good going in but I guess that's why they race."-- ROBERT HIGHT.
ASHLEY FORCE, 23, Castrol Top Alcohol Dragster
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 5.360 seconds, 265.17 mph.
Race results: Beat Richard Bourke, Wayne Morris; lost to Jeff Bohr.
Notable: In a bizarre chain of events, Ashley's loss to Jeff Bohr in the semifinals was, in essence, the final round. Neither of the other semifinalists, Mike Kosky and Mark Albert, was able to make the round and, as a result, neither advanced.
Quotable: "We went a couple of rounds and picked up some points. Unfortunately, this was the last (POWERade) race we could count for points. All the rest will have to come in divisionals." -- ASHLEY FORCE.