FORCE CAPS EMOTIONAL DAY WITH SECOND WIN OF SEASON John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Milege Ford Mustang past the Chevrolet of Del Worsham in an emotional final round Sunday to win the 20th annual FRAM/Autolite Nationals Sunday at...
FORCE CAPS EMOTIONAL DAY WITH SECOND WIN OF SEASON
John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Milege Ford Mustang past the Chevrolet of Del Worsham in an emotional final round Sunday to win the 20th annual FRAM/Autolite Nationals Sunday at Infineon Raceway and moved one step closer to a starting berth in the NHRA's new Countdown to the Championship.
Force, who earned an emotional first round victory over his daughter, Ashley, claimed the 124th victory of his career -- his seventh at Infineon -- and dedicated it to the memory of 2006 champion and teammate Eric Medlen, who succumbed last March to injuries suffered in a testing accident at Gainesville, Fla.
Force used his quickest run of the weekend and the quickest by anyone on race day, 4.793 seconds, to beat Ashley in the second career meeting between father and daughter.
"I don't like beating my daughter, but I wanted to beat everybody else," Force said after he used his backpedaling skills to get past Cruz Pedregon in the second round.
"Cruz is one of the best and he can pedal," Force said, "but even at my old worn out age, you don't forget how. That's what makes it exciting. My old heap just hooked up and trucked right down through there." The first round loss dropped Ashley from 10th to 12th in the Countdown to Eight standings with only two races before the cut-off.
"It is frustrating when you look back and think if we would have run any other pair we might have won," Ashley said.
Team Castrol/Auto Club driver Robert Hight defeated Funny Car legend Kenny Bernstein in the opening round and became the second Funny Car driver to clinch a Countdown berth. Hight won a photo finish versus No. 16 qualifier Tony Bartone in the second round before a broken throttle cable took him out in the semifinals against Worsham.
"It left good and then it just quit. When it first happened I thought it was the ignition. Well, if it would have been the ignition it wouldn't have still been running. Then I thought I might have lifted. I knew I hadn't lifted but you start second guessing yourself. I just tapped the throttle pedal because the thing was still running and I didn't want to do anything crazy. I could see the cable just swinging free and just flopping around."
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 58, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 10th at 4.870, 315.71 mph
Race results: Beat Ashley Force, Cruz Pedregon, Tommy Johnson Jr. Del Worsham
Notable: Won this event seven times with eleven final round appearances...Moved to 7th place in Countdown to Championship
Quotable: "This was a team win. Only Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly could get a car to run 4.79 in the heat like they did against Ashley. We wanted to win it for Eric -- and we did."
ASHLEY FORCE, 24, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.791, 324.12 mph
Race results: Lost to John Force.
Notable: 324.12 mph run in qualifying was a career high mph... fell from 10th to 12th in the Countdown to Eight standings.
Quotable: "The progress that I am making shows that practicing on the tree and in the staging lanes on the throttle does help. You can tell from the feeling in our all pit areas that we just wanted to win this race so bad. We didn' t care who won but one of us wanted to get into that winner's circle for Eric especially since he won here last year."
ROBERT HIGHT, 37, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.821, 318.17 mph
Race results: Beat Kenny Bernstein, Tony Bartone. Lost to Del Worsham.
Notable: Clinched spot in Countdown to Eight with second round win over Tony Bartone
Quotable: "Clinching a spot in the Top Eight is important. I'd like to get the number one spot because then you control your own destiny."