FORCE GETS TO THIRD PLACE IN POINTS DESPITE RUNNER-UP FINISH After watching the rain fall at Maple Grove Raceway for most of three days, John Force was anxious to get the 23rd annual Toyo Tires Nationals into the books. Unfortunately, he was a...
FORCE GETS TO THIRD PLACE IN POINTS DESPITE RUNNER-UP FINISH
After watching the rain fall at Maple Grove Raceway for most of three days, John Force was anxious to get the 23rd annual Toyo Tires Nationals into the books. Unfortunately, he was a little too anxious. The 14-time champion's foul start in the Funny Car final ended his bid for a third consecutive tour victory.
Force was too quick by .036 of a second, squandering a solid 4.792 second quarter mile that easily would have covered Tony Pedregon's troubled 5.061 at just 151.99 miles per hour in the final event leading up to the NHRA's new Countdown to the Championship playoff system.
Despite that result, Force will be the No. 3 seed in the Countdown and will roll into next week's 53rd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., having raced for the championship in five of the last six events in the NHRA POWERade Series.
"(Crew chiefs Austin) Coil and Bernie (Fedderly) gave me a good hot rod," Force said. "They were on their game and I wasn't on mine. That's the bottom line."
The No. 15 qualifier, Force beat Gary Densham, defending champion Phil Burkart Jr. and Tim Wlkerson to advance to the finals for the 200th time in his career. It marked the first time the drag racing icon ever had won a round of racing from the No. 15 starting position.
Ashley Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford, was the highest qualified of the Team Castrol drivers but lost in the first round. Robert Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford, won his first round race with 2005 series champion Gary Scelzi, but couldn't answer the call for round two because of chassis damage.
Hight will be in his third different chassis when the Countdown begins at Indy, a race in which he is the defending Funny Car Champion.
Although he and Pedregon actually are tied for third place, Force got the position (and an extra 10 points) because he had won more rounds than his former teammate, the first tiebreaker in the Countdown. He finished the preliminary phase just 165 points behind pacesetting Ron Capps after trailing the Dodge driver by as many as 466 points in June.