Las Vegas II: John Force Racing eliminations summary

Pedregon wins at Vegas; clinches title Highlights: Tony Pedregon beat Whit Bazemore in the final round for the fourth consecutive time and won both the third annual AC/Delco Las Vegas Nationals and the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship...

Pedregon wins at Vegas; clinches title

Highlights: Tony Pedregon beat Whit Bazemore in the final round for the fourth consecutive time and won both the third annual AC/Delco Las Vegas Nationals and the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Pedregon, runner-up for the championship four times in the last seven years, finally climbed the last hurdle in claiming the $400,000 title that had been the sole property of boss, teammate and mentor John Force for the last 10 seasons.

In a final round in which both cars lost traction, Pedregon won in 5.135 seconds; Bazemore trailed at 5.183.

It was the eighth win of the season for Pedregon in as many final round appearances. En route, he beat Terry Haddock, Del Worsham, Gary Scelzi and Bazemore to earn a sweep of the Las Vegas events.

In winning for the 27th time in his career. Pedregon dominated until the final round.J "I was as surprised as anyone else (that the Castrol SYNTEC Ford lost traction)," Pedregon said. "We ran 4.75 in the evening both times during qualifying. I really thought we'd go out and run a mid-4.70. But we did what we had to do and won it as a team. That was the big thing.

"This win was for John Force Racing. I think John was as proud of us as he was if he had won the championship. That meant a lot."

While Pedregon was regaining the form that made him almost unbeatable in the first half of the season, Force and Gary Densham were struggling.

After qualifying fourth, Force went out in round one even though his .005 reaction time gave him the early lead against Gary Scelzi. The culprit was a cylinder head failure that slowed his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to 4.920 seconds after it qualfied at 4.797.

Densham, the No. 2 qualifier at 4.758, lost to Keith Jackson in round one after the Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang suffered a supercharger failure.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 4 at 4.797, 319.60 mph.
Race results: Lost to Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Extended qualifying streak to 322 consecutive events.

Quotable: "Our goal coming in was to help Tony win the championship and, at the end of the day, Tony was the champ so I guess we did our job. I'm so proud of that team. They were challenged and they responded. It's a great feeling. Whether it's as a driver or as a car owner, a championship is what you race for." -- John Force.

TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 1 at 4.753, 322.88 mph.
Race results: Beat Terry Haddock, Del Worsham, Gary Scelzi and Whit Bazemore.
Notable: CLINCHED 2003 POWERade Championship with eighth win of the season, a career high.

Quotable: "We had a great day. John Medlen. Dickie Venables. This whole team. We won it as a team and we beat Bazemore to do it. That's a great team over there, but that's what makes it so great to beat 'em." -- TONY PEDREGON.

GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car:
Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.758, 324.12 mph.
Race results: Lost to Keith Jackson.
Notable: Top speed of the meet at 324.12 mph.

Quotable: "As all good as Saturday was, today was all bad. We blew the blower (supercharger) right at the hit of the throttle and it was all over. -- GARY DENSHAM.

Next events: Automobile Club of Southern California World Finals, Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9.

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Keith Jackson , Terry Haddock , John Medlen