Castrol Highlight: With one qualifying race remaining, the Team Castrol Fords locked up the 1-2-3 starting positions for the 25th annual Skoal Showdown Funny Car bonus race contested next month at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis,...
Castrol Highlight: With one qualifying race remaining, the Team Castrol Fords locked up the 1-2-3 starting positions for the 25th annual Skoal Showdown Funny Car bonus race contested next month at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind. First round pairings won't be determined until the completion of qualifying at this week's O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis, Tenn. Robert Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, currently leads the points. If he holds on to his lead through Memphis, he will become the first Funny Car driver other than John Force to earn the No. 1 seed in the last 17 seasons.
FORCE QUALIFIES NO. 1; CUTS DEFICIT TO JUST 58 POINTS
John Force's streak of never having lost a round of racing at Brainerd International Raceway after qualifying No. 1 came to an abrupt end in Sunday's 25th annual Lucas Nationals when the engine in the 13-time Funny Car champion's Castrol GTX Ford expired in a second round match with Del Worsham's Chevrolet.
Despite his unexpected ouster, Force managed to gain ground on points leader Ron Capps, who was dumped in the first round by journeyman Bob Gilbertson.
As a result, Force will move on to Memphis, Tenn., for this week's 19th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals trailing the leader by just 58 points.
Force, the No. 1 qualifier for the fifth time this season and for th 130th time in his career, got off to an impressive start, beating Phil Burkart Jr. in round one with what at the time was the quickest quarter mile of the entire weekend (4.754 seconds).
Unfortunately, it came apart in round two when a burned piston slowed the Mustang to 5.360 seconds, allowing Del Worsham to advance. Neither of the other Team Castrol Fords fared any better. Two-time defending champion Eric Medlen, trying to win on his 33rd birthday, was ousted in round two when a supercharger drive belt broke on the Castrol SYNTEC Ford and Robert Hight and the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford were ousted in round one.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 57, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.773 seconds, 323.74 mph.
Race results: Beat Phil Burkart Jr.; lost to Del Worsham.
Notable: Earned the 130th Skoal Showdown No. 1 qualifying bonus of his career and extended to 385 the number of consecutive events for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "We picked up another round on (points leader Ron) Capps and we proved that we have a real fast hot rod. Looks like this points race is going to go down to the wire and we're gonna be one of those with a chance to win it. That's all you can ask for." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 33, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.781 seconds, 320.20 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Bode; lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Notable: Saw his BIR winning streak end at nine rounds.
Quotable: "I stepped on the gas and it broke a blower belt. We're still trying to figure out why it happened. It was pretty disappointing because I think we had a car that could've won it." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.799 seconds, 316.97 mph.
Race results: Lost to Jim Head.
Notable: Fell to sixth in points after failing to advance beyond the second round for the sixth straight race.
Quotable: "We're just having a lot of things happen that usually don't happen. It seems like all at once. All you can do is go on down to Memphis and try to do better." -- ROBERT HIGHT.