Record May Not Favor Force, But Hard To Bet Against Him 109-Time Tour Winner Seeks Summitracing.com Title LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 2-4) -- It is a measure of John Force's reputation that even though he trails Del Worsham by 110 points in the...
Record May Not Favor Force, But Hard To Bet Against Him
109-Time Tour Winner Seeks Summitracing.com Title
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 2-4) -- It is a measure of John Force's reputation that even though he trails Del Worsham by 110 points in the current NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings, even though he has yet to win a race in 2004 and even though his record at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is less than stellar, he nevertheless is considered the favorite in this week's fifth annual Summitracing.com Nationals.
Force, who has won just once in seven previous appearances at LVMS and has not advanced beyond the second round in the Summitracing.com Nationals, has been installed as a 3-1 favorite by Las Vegas oddsmakers at Station Casinos. Worsham, is the second pick at 7-2.
"Do I think we can win? Yes," Force said. "Do I think we should be the favorite? No. How can Worsham not be the favorite. He's won two races in a row and is a whole race ahead in the points. Bottom line, who would bet on a drag race anyway? All the things that can go wrong...."
That said, it's not like Force is going into battle without a weapon.
The 109-time tour winner is second in POWERade points, was runner-up in the most recent event in the series and is driving a Castrol GTX High Mileage™ Ford Mustang that last year set the NHRA national record when it negotiated one-quarter mile of straight line racetrack in just 4.721 seconds. From a dead stop.
Still, Force has struggled at LVMS, especially in the spring race for which he qualified just 14th a year ago before losing to then teammate Tony Pedregon in the first round. The three previous years, despite more advantageous starting positions, he was ousted in round two by Tim Wilkerson, Dean Skuza and Worsham, respectively.
Things have been only a little better in the fall race, memorable (1) because it was the event in which he was involved in a fluke first round double disqualification in 2001, and (2) because it was the event in which he beat then teammate Tony Pedregon in the finals in 2002 to all but clinch his 10th consecutive championship.
Despite his problems, Force would prefer to focus on that 2002 victory, one secured by a margin of just .050 of a second.
"We've run good at Vegas but I've never had much luck there, either gambling or racing," Force said.
"But we're bringing a good hot rod with us and I think I'm back on the Tree (the Christmas Tree apparatus which starts each race). I had to re-educate myself after they changed the lights (a reference to NHRA's decision to replace conventional bulbs with brighter LED bulbs). I thought I couldn't red light (foul). I found out I could."
In fact, Force was guilty of four foul starts in 2003, equaling his total for 24 previous years on the circuit and contributing mightily to his worst series finish in 14 seasons (No. 3).
"I told (Crew Chiefs Austin) Coil and Bernie (Fedderly), 'you fix the car; I'll fix the driver,'" Force recalled. "Over the winter, I worked on my Tree and they worked on the hot rod. Bottom line, I think we're both a little better."