Team Castrol Fords Falter Spring Nationals The Team Castrol Ford Mustangs survived a less-than-spectacular outing in the 17th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals but nevertheless managed to leave Houston Raceway Park in second, fourth and sixth...
Team Castrol Fords Falter Spring Nationals
The Team Castrol Ford Mustangs survived a less-than-spectacular outing in the 17th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals but nevertheless managed to leave Houston Raceway Park in second, fourth and sixth place in NHRA POWERade points.
The most successful of the Force-owned Fords was the Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang driven by former high school auto shop teacher Gary Densham.JJAfter qualifying No. 1 for the second straight year at Houston and for the second time this season, Densham beat Jim Head in round one and former teammate Tony Pedregon in round two before a part in the clutch controller malfunctioned against Jerry Toliver's Toyota in the semifinals.
That success enabled Densham to move into second place in points behind runaway points leader Del Worsham who did little to hurt his cause by reaching the semifinals in a race eventally won by Tim Wilkerson. JNeither John Force nor Eric Medlen was able to advance beyond the second round in the team's two primary vehicles -- the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang and the Castrol SYNTEC Mustang.
Force appeared to have a car capable of winning the race when he was clocked in 4.847 seconds in a first round win over veteran Tommy Johnson Jr. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem that became evident during the warmup prior to round two couldn't be totally resolved and the 12-time series champion was forced to abort his second round effort against Toliver before the car had traveled even 300 feet.
Medlen, the rookie driver of the car that won the 2003 championship, beat Cruz Pedregon in round one thanks to a starting line advantage that made his 4.921 second time a winner against a better 4.904, but he didn't have an answer for Wilkerson, who had the quickest time in every round of racing.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 54, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 12th at 4.958 seconds, 300.33 mph.
Race results: Beat Tommy Johnson Jr.; lost to Jerry Toliver.
Notable: Extended to 328 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "We had a problem in the warmup before the second round and we just couldn't get it fixed in time. I just took the car up to the (starting) line hoping that he (opponent Jerry Toliver) would make a mistake." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.901 seconds, 297.22 mph.
Race results: Beat Cruz Pedregon; lost to Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Retained a share of fifth place in POWERade points in three-way tie with Whit Bazemore and Phil Burkart Jr.
Quotable: "Well, we just got beat by a better race car today, but we beat Cruz (Pedregon) in the first round so we'll just have to focus on that."-- ERIC MEDLEN
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford
Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.846 seconds, 311.20 mph.
Race results: Beat Jim Head, Tony Pedregon; lost to Jerry Toliver.
Notable: Earned the eighth Skoal No. 1 qualifier award of his career; his second this season, and moved up to second place in POWERade points behind Del Worsham.
Quotable: "I guess the good news is that we finally had a little good luck but then it went away in the semifinals where a part in the clutch controller malfunctioned. But we moved up in points. And in this field, that's big." -- GARY DENSHAM.
JNEXT EVENTS: O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn., April 30-May 2; Summit Southern Nationals, Atlanta, Ga., May 14.-16; Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., May 21-23; O'Reilly Summer Nationals, Topeka, Kan., May 28-30; Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 11-13; K&N Filters SuperNationals, Englishtown, N.J., June 18-20; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill. (St. Louis), June 25-27.