Pomona 2: Force aims for 11th championship

POMONA, Calif. - The target has been on his back since 1992, and not one team has been able to hit the bulls-eye. Funny Car teams continue to re-load their arsenal each season, with championship hopes on their minds, only to have those hopes ...

POMONA, Calif. - The target has been on his back since 1992, and not one team has been able to hit the bulls-eye. Funny Car teams continue to re-load their arsenal each season, with championship hopes on their minds, only to have those hopes extinguished by the incomparable John Force.

The 10-time Winston champ continues his assault on the record books, and the Funny Car field, as the opposition continuously attempts to invent ways to stop the animated 95-time national event winner. Several have come close, but in the end, it has been Force who has added yet another trophy to his impressively cluttered mantle.

Force will continue his drive towards his record-setting 11th Winston Funny Car championship when he competes in the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels, July 5-7, at historic Pomona Raceway. The $2 million race, the first night time drag race to be held in Southern California in more than 20 years, is the 13th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Already an icon of the NHRA, another career achievement would be to visit the winner's circle in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at the special Pomona night race in honor of the NHRA's 50th anniversary season.

"To me, that's where Wally Parks started it all," said the 52-year-old Force. "The first race may have been in (Great Bend) Kansas, but the fact is that Wally Parks, who took it from local airports, made Pomona the NHRA's home base. That's where it started. I like California because it's my home and it's a major market and the place is packed every year."

Recognizing the competitiveness of the Funny Car category, and the number of two-car teams being formed in order to dethrone the champ, Force upped the ante earlier this season and added a third car to his already impressive racing stable. The addition of the third Ford, driven by longtime friend Gary Densham, has given Force Racing another vital source of information to help gain an advantage over the rest of the field.

"I really don't want a three-car team because it just doesn't make any sense," said Force. "There isn't enough television exposure for that. You need to get in the other lane with a dragster or something. I considered a Pro Stock car but I don't know how to get in and out of one and don't know how to shift it. Those things are really confusing. The guys that drive those are really talented. We just stomp on the gas and don't look at the oil pressure because we aren't allowed to."

After a decade of dominance in the 1990s which has continued into the next millennium, an 11th series crown for Force could result in some drastic changes for the Yorba-Linda, Calif., resident.

"I am trying to get this 11th Winston championship so I can make some decisions in my career and decide what I am going to do about a Top Fuel dragster," said Force. "I have a brand new dragster and new trailer that I bought and that is why I hired (Densham's crew chief) Jimmy Prock. I'm making a decision, not because I want to quit racing, but because I want to focus on which direction I'm going in my career."

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham