FORCE TAKES LEAD BY SINGLE POINT OVER CAPPS HIGHT RUNNER-UP IN TOYO NATIONALS; FORCE GRABS POINTS LEAD Phil Burkart Jr. had a career day Sunday at the 22nd annual Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, beating last year's POWERade Funny...
FORCE TAKES LEAD BY SINGLE POINT OVER CAPPS
HIGHT RUNNER-UP IN TOYO NATIONALS; FORCE GRABS POINTS LEAD
Phil Burkart Jr. had a career day Sunday at the 22nd annual Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, beating last year's POWERade Funny Car Champion and the three contenders for this year's championship en route to his first tour victory since July, 2004.
Among Burkart's victims were Team Castrol Ford drivers John Force and Robert Hight, whom he dispatched in the semifinals and finals, respectively. He earlier drove his Worsham Racing Chevy past the Dodges of Ron Capps and 2005 champion Gary Scelzi.
Although neither got to the winners' circle, Force and Hight both made substantial gains in the race for the $400,000 title.
Force used his starting line skills to beat rookie Jack Beckman in round one and veteran and No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in round two, earning just enough points to move around Capps.
Even though his series winning streak ended at 11 rounds, Hight closed to within 35 points of the lead at the wheel of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford in which he has gone to the semifinals or beyond in each of the last three races.
"Now we've got two Fords fighting for the championship against Cappsie," Force said of a points race that this week moves to Richmond, Va., for the Torco Race Fuels Nationals. "It's gonna come right down to the last race, just like last year."
Force used a .075-.109 reaction time advantage to make his 4.795 second time a winner against Beckman's slightly quicker 4.783 in round one. He then used a .083-.117 edge to get around Johnson, who was quicker down the track, 4.762 to Force's 4.785.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.761 seconds, 323.58 mph.
Race results: Beat Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr.; lost to Phil Burkart Jr.
Notable: Extended qualifying streak to 389 consecutive races and regained the POWERade points lead.
Quotable: "Blower belt (supercharger drive belt) got us again, but it was a good day. Now it's a three-car race and it's going to go down to the last race, just like it did last year." - JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 33, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.705 seconds, 325.69 mph.
Race results: Beat Scott Kalitta, Tony Pedregon; lost to Robert Hight.
Notable: Beat the man he replaced in the SYNTEC Mustang, Tony Pedregon and the Q Chevrolet, in a second round showdown.
Quotable: "It's good to finally get back to winning rounds. Semifinal was kinda disappointing, but we went rounds and it was good to get all three Fords back in the semifinals." - ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 37, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.739 seconds, 325.69 mph.
Race results: Beat Tim Wilkerson, Del Worsham, Eric Medlen; lost to Phil Burkart Jr.
Notable: Moved to within two rounds of the points lead (35 points behind teammate John Force) by reaching the finals for the third consecutive event.
Quotable: "We let one get away (after losing traction in the final round), but it's pretty awesome to have made up the ground we have just since Indy. That's the first time our car hasn't gone down the racetrack in awhile (14 straight runs)" - ROBERT HIGHT.