Car chief Wendland to leave John Force Racing

INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 8) -- Fourteen-time Funny Car champion John Force will lose car chief Rob Wendland at the end of the 2008 POWERade season. Wendland and his wife Kathy, the daughter of Funny Car racer John Lawson, are expecting a baby boy in December and the time demands of Wendland's current position are too high, prompting the change.

"Working with all the crew chiefs at John Force Racing has been phenomenal, especially Austin Coil," said Wendland, the 1999 Rookie of the Year in NHRA's Sportsman classes. "He has opened my eyes up to a whole different way of thinking when it comes to performance and safety. He is truly my drag racing hero and I want to thank him for the opportunity he gave me.

"The team has experienced lots of ups and downs. The death of Eric Medlen, John's crash in Dallas, and making safety a priority over performance, it's been quite a ride.

"Kathy and I are expecting a baby boy in December and I am going to be there. John Force taught me the importance of family and my job at JFR has become all-consuming. I'll try to find a team that I can help and yet be around home a little bit more. I love drag racing and I know I can help the right team while still being a good father and husband."

Prior to his time under the hood of Force's Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, Wendland drove Mike and Barb Troxels' In-N-Out Top Alcohol Dragster to two national and two divisional wins in 1999. As a tuner, he assisted Mark Oswald with Lawsons' Funny Car and wrenched Mike Gundersons' A-Fuel Dragster to the first 280 mph pass in history.

Over the years, Wendland also has helped David Wells, Vern Moats, Morgan Lucas, Bill Hynes, Tim Baxter, and Force, who he helped to his last four national event wins. He also was with Force when he bagged his milestone 1000th round win.

-credit: rob geiger