FORCE RUNNER-UP AT READING, CLOSES GAP IN POINTS RACE John Force started a late season run toward what could be a record 14th NHRA Funny Car Championship Sunday by reaching the final round for the 12th time in 21 appearances in the Toyo Tires ...
FORCE RUNNER-UP AT READING, CLOSES GAP IN POINTS RACE
John Force started a late season run toward what could be a record 14th NHRA Funny Car Championship Sunday by reaching the final round for the 12th time in 21 appearances in the Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Despite a loss of traction that slowed his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford to 8.339 seconds in the final, Force managed to move to within two rounds of points leader Gary Scelzi with only four races remaining in the 2005 campaign.
Tony Pedregon, who left Force Racing after driving the Castrol SYNTEC Ford to the 2003 championship, was the beneficiary of Force's final round woes, winning for the first time since forming his own team.
For Force, it was a continuation of an all-or-nothing-at-all season in which he has gone to the finals six times and lost in the first round nine times. Nevertheless, he moved from fourth to third in points, just 31 behind Scelzi, who lost to Pedregon in the semifinals.
Rookie sensation Robert Hight remained second in points although he lost some ground to Scelzi when the veteran outdueled him to the finish in a second round showdown, 4.818 to 4.910. Hight now is 26 points off the lead in the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford.
The third of the Team Castrol drivers, second year pro Eric Medlen, moved up to fourth in points despite a second round loss to Whit Bazemore.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.804 seconds, 322.11 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Tommy Johnson Jr., Whit Bazemore; lost to Tony Pedregon.
Notable: Extended to 365 the record number of consecutive events for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car; reached the final round for the 12th time in 21 appearaces at Maple Grove Raceway; moved up to third in points.
Quotable: "We did some good, but it hurts to lose that way. We didn't expect it. (Crew chiefs Austin) Coil and Bernie (Fedderly) thought we were pretty safe. Guess not." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.787 seconds, 317.12 mph.
Race results: Beat Tim Wilkerson; lost to Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Moved up to fourth in POWERade points.
Quotable: "It wasn't a lost weekend, but you sure don't want to let too many chances (to move up in points) get away this late in the season. We'll just have to get ready for Texas." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.822 seconds, 317.94 mph.
Race results: Beat Ron Capps; lost to Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Remained second in POWERade points behind Gary Scelzi.
Quotable: "That's the biggest round win I've ever had (beating Capps in the fifst round) and it's more pressure than any final I've ever been in. I just wish we could have done the same thing once more (against Scelzi)."-- ROBERT HIGHT
ASHLEY FORCE, 22, Castrol/Hot Wheels A/Fuel dragster (Top Alcohol Dragster division)
Qualifying position and performance: 16th at 5.715 seconds, 247.29 mph.
Race results: Lost to Bill Reichert.
Notable: Lost to eventual race winner in the first round.
Quotable: "We've got a new car being built at Murf McKinney's and I think we're all ready for it. Jerry (crew chief Jerry Darien) is pulling his hair out." -- ASHLEY FORCE.