1-2-3 START AGAIN LEADS TO DISAPPOINTMENT FOR CASTROL FORDS For the seventh time in history, John Force Racing qualified all three of its Castrol Ford Mustangs at the top of an NHRA Funny Car field and for the seventh time, it came away without...
1-2-3 START AGAIN LEADS TO DISAPPOINTMENT FOR CASTROL FORDS
For the seventh time in history, John Force Racing qualified all three of its Castrol Ford Mustangs at the top of an NHRA Funny Car field and for the seventh time, it came away without a victory. John Force, drag racing's all-time leader in tour victories and series championships, made a strong bid to repeat as champion at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals but a loss of traction in the final round at Heartland Park-Topeka allowed Ron Capps to drive around him for the win.
Force defeated two former NHRA world champions to reach the final -- two-time former Top Fuel champ Scott Kalitta in the second round and 2003 Funny Car champ and former protege Tony Pedregon in the semifinals.
In the final, Force grabbed a starting line advantage with a .050 of a second reaction time (to Capps' .080) but his national record-holding Mustang lost traction near half track and then broke a supercharger drive belt to give Capps the opening he needed to win the race and extend his points led.
All three Castrol Fords reached the second round with Robert Hight joining his boss and father-in-law in the semifinals at the wheel of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford. By reaching the semis, Highs earned enough points to move around teammate Eric Medlen into third place in the POWERade point standings. Medlen, who slipped to fourth, beat Mike Ashley in the first round and was leading Tony Pedregon at 1,000 feet before a broken valve caused a second round engine failure.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.859 seconds, 314.53 mph.
Race results: Beat Tim Wilkerson, Scott Kalitta, Tony Pedregon; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Extended to 378 the number of consecutive events for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car
Quotable: "At 300 or 400 feet I had to pedal it a little and that made us throw a belt. I think the heat was working against us this weekend. We are still No. 2 in points and we are running great. We just need to win some races. I feel good about where all three of the cars are. I feel like I'm getting back into the zone (as a driver). I think the team has a great attitude and we are working towards winning the championship. We are going to be okay." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.880 seconds, 268.60 mph.
Race results: Beat Mike Ashley; lost to Tony Pedregon.
Notable: Explosion in second round while leading Tony Pedregon cost Medlen 10 points and $1,000 under NHRA oil down policy.
Quotable: "We are still having a few problems. The good news, I guess, is that the problems we are having now are different than the ones we had earlier in the season. I don't thing we are snake bit, we are just working through some problems that every team has. I am just going race to race, round by round, trying to get better. Everyone on the team is working on improving and I know that we will continue to get better as the season goes on." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.824 seconds, 315.19 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Densham, Gary Scelzi; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Performance today moved Hight into sole possession of 3rd place on NHRA POWERade points standings; qualified No. 1 for 9th time in 32 events; defeated reigning POWERade Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi in second round.
Quotable: "The car is running good. It's hard to complain about getting to the semifinals. We are getting closer every race. I like the fact that we got down the track and we didn't beat ourselves. I really believe that if we keep getting to at least the semis for the rest of the season -- and we win some races -- we will be right in the championship hunt." -- ROBERT HIGHT.
ASHLEY FORCE, 23, Castrol Top Alcohol Dragster
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 5.856 seconds, 247.84 mph.
Race results: Lost to Todd Datweiler in first round
Quotable: "We qualified pretty well but we struggled in eliminations. I think the conditions created a couple of problems we couldn't overcome. The combination of the extreme heat and humidity didn't do us any favors." -- ASHLEY FORCE.