FIRST ROUND NOTES JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTXÂ® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 37th time in his career that John has started from the No. 3 qualifying...
FIRST ROUND NOTES
JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 37th time in his career that John has started from the No. 3 qualifying position. He has won 12 times from the No. 3 spot – four times in 1999 alone. His victory last year at Atlanta Dragway came from the No. 3 position.
SEASON-TO-DATE: John won the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz., and last week's Moto1.net Nationals at Richmond, Va., and is second in Winston Funny Car points behind Jerry Toliver.
VERSUS BOB GILBERTSON: This is the third consecutive time and the fourth time in seven races this season that John has faced Bob Gilbertson in the first round. Gilbertson's only career victory in seven career meetings with Force came last month at Houston. He went on to win that race.
PREVIOUSLY AT ATLANTA: John has reached the finals eight straight years at the Advantage Auto Parts Southern Nationals. He has gone to the finals more often in the Southern Nationals (10) than in any other event in the Winston Series.
WINSTON POINTS: This is only the third year in the last 11 that Force has reached the seventh race at anywhere other than in first place.
RECORDS: John is the official NHRA national record holder for both quarter mile time (4.788 seconds at this race last year) and speed (324.05 miles per hour last year at Gainesville, Fla,). He also has gone quicker and faster than anyone else under the new NHRA rules which limit nitromethane content to a maximum of 90 per cent of the fuel mixture. His 4.826 second effort last week at Richmond was the quickest Funny Car clocking of the season. His 321.50 mph speed at Gainesville, Fla., in March is the fastest within the new rules.
CASTROL GTX VERSUS CASTROL SYNTEC: As the No. 3 and No. 7 qualifiers, John Force and Tony Pedregon would meet in the semifinals if both were able to get through the first two rounds.
DID YOU KNOW: John now has qualified for 236 consecutive races, the longest active streak in Funny Car drag racing......John is the only drag racer to have won the Driver of the Year Award for all of American motor racing (1996) .....of the 19 times he has lost in the first round in the last 11 seasons, John has come back to win the next on seven separate occasions. His victory last week at Richmond followed a first round exit two weeks before at Houston ....one or the other of the Castrol Fords has posted top speed of the meet for Funny Cars in 25 of the last 35 NHRA nationals events including five of six races this year....last Thursday John celebrated his 51st birthday as he usually does -- on the road.
TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., will start the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals from the No. 7 qualifying position. Tony will start seventh for the ninth time in his pro career and for the second time this year after guiding the Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford Mustang to a qualifying time of 4.965 seconds at 306.46 mph. He has won one time from the No. 7 spot – at last year's Castrol Nationals in Ennis, Texas.
VERSUS SCOTT WEISS: Tony Pedregon is 1-0 versus first round opponent Scott Weiss, who he defeated in the first round of the 1999 Pontiac Nationals at Columbus, Ohio.
SEASON TO DATE: Tony has gone to the finals in two of the previous six events, losing both decisions to the WWF. He fell to Jerry Toliver in the season-opener at Pomona, Calif., and to Toliver's teammate, Jim Epler, at Las Vegas, Nevada.
CAREER RECORD: Although this is only his fifth full season on the NHRA tour, Tony already has eight victories in 23 career final round appearances in the Funny Car division.
AT ATLANTA: In addition to his victory at the 1996 Southern Nationals, Tony has gone to the semifinals two of the last three years, each time losing to John Force..
QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile ever recorded by a fuel Funny Car: 4.779 seconds on March 21, 1999 at Gainesville, Fla. He is the second quickest under NHRA's new 90 per cent nitromethane rules, having run 4.830 seconds at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.
DID YOU KNOW? Tony was the initial winner (1996) of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (and the $10,000 cash bonus that accompanies it)....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than Force to have broken the 4.80 second barrier and one of only three drivers (with Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.) to have exceeded 320 mph....Tony is making his 103rd consecutive start, all as a member of Team Castrol....it's been 16 races since Tony last won an NHRA national event (at the 1999 Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo). The longest he ever has gone without a victory is 17 races (twice)....Tony has raced John three times in the last four years at Atlanta, losing in the 1997 and ‘99 semifinals.