FORCE MAKES 11TH HOUR BID PAY OFF WITH SHOWDOWN BERTH As No. 1 Seed, Ashley Force Extends Team's Streak in Funny Car Bonus Race READING, Pa. -- Against extremely long odds, John Force managed to earn the eighth and final starting spot for the...
FORCE MAKES 11TH HOUR BID PAY OFF WITH SHOWDOWN BERTH
As No. 1 Seed, Ashley Force Extends Team's Streak in Funny Car Bonus Race
READING, Pa. -- Against extremely long odds, John Force managed to earn the eighth and final starting spot for the 27th annual U.S. Smokeless Showdown despite qualifying his Castrol GTX High Mileague Ford Mustang only fifth for Sunday's 27th annual Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
That extended one of the sport's longest and most impressive streaks, putting the 14-time series champion in the field of the Funny Car bonus race for the 24th consecutive year and for the 25th time overall.
He was surprised and delighted by the unexpected turn of events even though it means he will oppose his daughter, Ashley, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, Aug. 31 in Indianapolis, Ind.
"I had to do everything right the last two races to have a shot," Force said. "We were lucky enough that we qualified high in Brainerd (No. 2) and here. Other guys struggled and two of them didn't make the show. Luck was a big part of this, but we'll take it."
When the 126-time tour winner failed to qualify for the July 20th Schuck's Auto Parts Supply Nationals at Seattle, Wash., it appeared that the streak would come to an end. After all, the Seattle race was the sixth Showdown qualifier in which he earned zero points. That included three races he missed while recovering from injuries suffered in a crash last Sept. 23 at Dallas, Texas and three DNQs.
"After last year and that crash in Dallas, I really didn't think that I'd be able to put this thing back in (the Showdown)," Force said. "We missed races, but you just keep the faith and you keep going down the road. You keep doing what you do and believing in your crew chiefs and your team.
"To be in (the race) for Castrol and Ford, Old Spice, the Auto Club of Southern California, BrandSource, Sanyo and Mac Tools, we've done our job and it is just really cool. I'm racing Ashley first round and that's really what I wanted to do most. I didn't want her to go to the Showdown for her first time and me not be in it with her. Boy, I made it by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin."
Almost lost in the celebration of her dad's unlikely comeback was Ashley's history-making drive to become the top seed, extending to 19 the number of consecutive seasons that a John Force Racing driver has been No. 1 going into the Showdown. That streak began with Force himself in 1990. He was the top seed for the next 16 seasons before his son-in-law, Robert Hight, climbed to the top in 2006 and 2007.