Baytown: John Force preview

Force returns to site of 100th Career Win: Despite slow start, Force still 'King of the Hill' at Houston. 12-time series champion gets fresh paint and new lease. BAYTOWN, Texas (April 11-13) -- John Force may not occupy his usual position atop...

Force returns to site of 100th Career Win:

Despite slow start, Force still 'King of the Hill' at Houston.
12-time series champion gets fresh paint and new lease.

BAYTOWN, Texas (April 11-13) -- John Force may not occupy his usual position atop the POWERade point standings, but the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion still will be King of the Hill this week when his CastrolGTX® High Mileage Ford Mustang rolls to the starting line for the 16th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

The most prolific winner in drag racing history with 106 tour victories, Force returns to the track on which he earned his milestone 100th win at the wheel of another of the many "theme cars" produced in collaboration with Action Performance Companies, Inc.

However, Force's Castrol-backed "King of the Hill" Mustang, which borrows images from the animated Fox television series of the same name, will bring with it more than just fresh paint.

Beneath the carbon fiber body bearing the likenesses of Hank Hill and Company beats the 7,000 horsepower heart of a race car that rivals know is better than its 11th place standing would suggest.

Coming off a test session last Monday at Las Vegas, Nevada, in which he was clocked in 4.79 seconds at more than 320 miles per hour, Force is cautiously optimistic about the chances of ending a four-race malaise during which he has won but a single round of racing.

"We found some bad rotors (in the supercharger)," said the 11-time Auto Racing All- America selection. "It's been a new problem every race but I think (Crew Chief Austin) Coil and Bernie (Fedderly) finally are getting a handle on it."

Indeed, Force struggled earlier because of a recurring engine misfire (dropped cylinder) that, in effect, deprived the world's quickest Funny Car of more than 850 horsepower (the amount generated by a single cylinder) of the world's most powerful V-8.

During last week's SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas, the car ran on eight cylinders but, in so doing, lost traction in the middle of the quarter mile course and never approached its 4.731 second potential.

Then, in Monday testing, the team sandwiched two supercharger failures around the aforementioned 4.79, leaving questions still unanswered as the POWERade tour moves to HRP, a track on which Force has won seven times and on which he set track records of 4.788 seconds, 321.88 mph four years ago (1999).

For the most part, Force has remained upbeat about his worst personal start since 1980 when he also was 1-4 after four races.

"As a car owner, I'm having a great year," said the 53-year-old drag racing icon. "We've won three of the four races and Tony (Pedregon) and Densh (Gary Densham) are 1-2 in POWERade points.

"Me? I'm just fighting to get back in the Top 10. But it's a long season. We've got 19 races left and we expect to win a couple before it's all over."

Force acknowledged that the team made a lot of changes to start the season and that one of the problems has been getting all the new parts and pieces working in consort.

"Coil and Bernie run our car a little different than (John) Medlen runs Tony's car or Jimmy (Prock) runs Densham's. So you can't just take the combination out of one of our Fords and put it in the other. The cars are alike, but they aren't identical and that's been the problem. But we'll figure it out."

-www.johnforceracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Densham