Las Vegas II: John Force Racing summary

Force Loses Close Final But Wins 13th Title John Force lost the battle Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he still won the war. Drag racing's biggest winner dropped a narrow .025 of a second decision to Gary Scelzi in the...

Force Loses Close Final But Wins 13th Title

John Force lost the battle Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he still won the war.

Drag racing's biggest winner dropped a narrow .025 of a second decision to Gary Scelzi in the final round of the fourth annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, but that couldn't keep the veteran from clinching a record 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship at the wheel of the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang.

Although he qualified only seventh, that's all he needed to close out Del Worsham in the race for the $400,000 POWERade championship. Having achieved his primary goal, the 113-time tour winner beat Ron Capps and teammates Eric Medlen and Gary Densham en route to his 11th final round of the season 0x2022 the 179th of his career.

"The first of the year, (Del) Worsham, Scelzi and (Whit) Bazemore were running this thing down my throat," Force said, "and I thought, 'I can't live with this; I have to fix this somehow,' but I didn't even know if I could still win.

"I didn't want to talk about (the championship) because I was afraid I wouldn't get it. These kids are tough out here. Worsham, Scelzi and Baze, (Tim) Wilkerson, (Phil) Burkart, Tony and Cruz (Pedregon), (Ron) Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. Those are great young drivers. You have to be on your game every week and to win with all those guys shooting at you every week, it means a lot to me.

"I can say this was my hardest championship to win," Force continued. "Harder than all of them. I didn't think I was going to make it. Scelzi was right there every week. It was a big fight. And then it was Baze the next week and Worsham the next. And then, all of a sudden, it was like we got magic. It just started to run and I started to jive and I started to believe. And that was the key. Retirement? I'm not retiring. I'm having too much fun."

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.777 seconds, 327.43 mph.
Race results: Beat Ron Capps, Eric Medlen, Gary Densham; lost to Gary Scelzi
Notable: Reached the final round for the 11th time this season and clinched his record 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship.

ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.770 seconds, 322.27 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Bode; lost to John Force.
Notable: Remained fifth in POWERade points with one race remaining.

GARY DENSHAM, 57, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.771 seconds, 325.45 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Gilbertson, Tony Pedregon; lost to John Force.
Notable: Leapfrogged over Whit Bazemore and teammate Eric Medlen into fourth place in POWERade points.

NEXT EVENT: Automobile Club of Southern California Finals, Pomona, Calif., Nov. 11-14.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Bob Bode , Eric Medlen , Tommy Johnson Jr.