POMONA, California - John Force won his 11th race of the 2000 season and the 92nd of his career Sunday, beating Bruce Sarver in a classic final to claim the top prize in the 36th annual Auto Club of Southern California Finals at the Los Angeles County Fairplex.
Force, the sport's most prolific winner, negotiated the supposed inferior right lane in 4.855 seconds at 316.90 miles per hour to hold off Sarver's 4.892 at 308.92 mph in the Hot Wheels Firebird
"It's just really exciting because it was a race," Force said. "Sarver got out and he was hugging me and I was hugging him. It ain't like you were let down because (the car) stumbled or the track was just terrible or where somebody smoked the tires. It was just good racing for the fans. And that's instant energy, man."
En route to his seventh victory at the Fairplex, Force earned his 700th and 701st round wins. He beat Whit Bazemore, Scotty Cannon and Ron Capps to reach the finals for the 140th time in his career.
Steve Johns, driver of the Castrol Super Clean Chevy S-10, earned the No. 1 qualifying spot in the Pro Stock Truck class before losing a second round decision to Greg Stanfield by .007 of a second. Johns also was the top qualifier at the season-opening Winternationals contested on the same track.
WINNERS: Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi def. Tony Schumacher; Funny Car, John Force def. Bruce Sarver; Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson def. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Pro Stock Truck, Greg Stanfield def. Mike Coughlin; Pro Stock Motorcycle, Terry Mullen def. Matt Hines. NEXT EVENT: 41st annual AutoZone Winternationals, Feb. 1-4, 2001, Pomona, Calif.
<pre> JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTXÂ® Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 1st at 4.908 seconds, 291.63 mph. Race Results: Beat Whit Bazemore, Scotty Cannon, Ron Capps and Bruce Sarver. Notable: Force won for the first time in four years at the LA County Fairgrounds by solving a problematic right lane in a final round victory over Bruce Sarver. The win, in a special edition Castrol GTX Ford Mustang promoting the new movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," was Force's 11th of the season and his second in succession. "Nobody could get off the pad past 300 foot, but (Crew Chief Austin) Coil kept saying, "if it'll get late enough and if it gets past dark and it gets cold".' Because he knew that if the sun would just go away, it would change the personality of the track and that's what happened." - John Force.
TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 4th Race Results: Beat Scott Weis; lost to Ron Capps. Notable: Pedregon locked up a Top 5 spot for the fourth time in five years, finishing fourth behind John Force, Ron Capps and Jerry Toliver. "Getting second or third was a long shot. We had a good year. We closed with a good-running race car and, I promise, we'll be back even stronger next year." - Tony Pedregon.
STEVE JOHNS, Castrol Super Clean Chevy S-10 Truck Qualifying position: 1st at 7.488, 179.68 mph. Race Results: Beat Mark Whisnant; lost to Mike Coughlin. Notable: By .007 of a second, the margin by which he lost to Mike Coughlin in the second round, Johns lost the opportunity to successfully defend his event championship. He had to settle for sweeping qualifying honors at the Fairplex where he also was No. 1 at the season-opening Winternationals. By reaching the second round, Johns finished third in Winston points. ROB SLAVINSKI, Castrol Super Clean Chevy S-10 Truck Qualifying position: DNQ Notable: Slavinski missed his best opportunity to make the field when rain forced the NHRA to cancel Saturday's final qualifying session.