Pomona: John Force preview

Force having to learn subtleties of new McKinney-built Mustang. Castrol GTX high mileage driver bids for third straight win at Pomona. POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6-9) In his 26th season on the NHRA POWERade tour, after winning 106 races and 12...

Force having to learn subtleties of new McKinney-built Mustang.
Castrol GTX high mileage driver bids for third straight win at Pomona.

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6-9) In his 26th season on the NHRA POWERade tour, after winning 106 races and 12 series championships, John Force finds himself in the unusual position of having to learn to drive all over again.

That's because for the first time in his career, the 53-year-old veteran will roll into the LA County Fairplex for the season-opening 43rd annual K&N Filters Winternationals at the wheel of a Funny Car built by someone other than long-time friend Steve Pleuger.

Like teammates Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham, Force this year is making the transition to a McKinney Corporation chassis.

The problem is that the McKinney chassis has certain nuances with which the 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection is not yet completely comfortable.

For one thing, his new Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang steers differently than did its predecessors, a factor that may have contributed to a Phoenix testing incident in which Force ran over three center line cones and destroyed a carbon fiber body.

For another, the 53-year-old veteran commissioned modifications to a strap across the accelerator pedal. Designed to keep the driver's foot firmly planted during five G's of acceleration, the strap initially made it difficult, Force said, for him to "feel" the 7,000 horsepower at his command.

"With the strap (in place), I really didn't have a feel for what was happening," Force said. "I couldn't feel it in my feet. Bottom line, there are a few little things we've changed, but overall it's a really nice race car and, like Tony said, it drives like a Lincoln."

Because of the chassis change and mixed test results from Phoenix and Tucson, where Force was quick but inconsistent, his third consecutive victory at Pomona Raceway is anything but a certainty.

"We'll be fine," Force said. "I'm just ready to go racing. It's been a long winter."

Seeking an incredible 11th consecutive POWERade Funny Car championship, Force is in a position this week to extend three major streaks.

He comes into the Fairplex with the chance to extend to 301 the number of consecutive NHRA tour events for which he has qualified a Castrol-backed Funny Car. He also can extend his current Fairplex winning streak to three-in-a-row and he can stretch to 17 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA tour event.

Winner of a record 106 tour events, more than any driver in any major series with the exception of the legendary Richard Petty (who won 200 times on NASCAR's Winston Cup tour), Force is after his 11th victory at Pomona. At no other venue has he won more NHRA events (although he has also won 10 times at Brainerd, Minn., International Raceway).

DID YOU KNOW?
One or the other of the John Force Racing Ford Mustangs has appeared in eight of the last nine Funny Car finals contested at Pomona Raceway....John is the only driver in any category to have won three different events at Pomona, the result of having won the NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals in 2001 as well as the Winternationals and Auto Club Finals....John is coming off a season in which he failed to win at least 50 rounds of racing for only the second time in the last 10 years. He posted a 48-15 record last year. Only in1998, did he win fewer rounds (44-19). He owns the record for rounds won in a single season with 65 (1996)....John appeared Wednesday on the "Best Damned Sports Show, Period" on the FOX Sports network....Wednesday night, at the 90th birthday party for Wally Parks, John made a $24,000 contribution to the newly-re-christened Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum to by a helmet and firesuit worn by the NHRA founder during one of his runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

-www.johnforceracing.com-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Gary Densham , Richard Petty