FORCE WINS BRISTOL; 130th CAREER WIN BRISTOL, TN --- For the fourth time this season John Force rolled his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car into the winner's circle. Force won for the 130th time in his career and moved back...
FORCE WINS BRISTOL; 130th CAREER WIN
BRISTOL, TN --- For the fourth time this season John Force rolled his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car into the winner's circle. Force won for the 130th time in his career and moved back into the Full Throttle points lead with his dominating effort today at Bristol Dragway.
"The race track can be tricky. We were worried coming here. We have been good on good race tracks like Jimmy Prock we can make big thunder out there. Boy the last few races we have been getting spanked. We can't get down the race track Jimmy (Prock, crew chief for the Auto Club Mustang) or us. We adapted to it today. Jimmy will too because he knows everything that we do. My son-in-law Robert Hight, I have never seen a guy like that," said Force.
In the opening round Force defeated Paul Lee, the 126th different driver to race him then he marched through Chicago winner Matt Hagan, Englishtown winner Bob Tasca III and finally fellow Ford driver and father Tim Wilkerson. This was the first time Force has won on Father's Day and it was a special occasion all around.
"I've got a great team. Not just Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and Mike Neff. I have a whole bunch of young guys, the kids that put my Mustang together. I don't know how they do it. When you look at the run we are on going into the Western Swing plus where we have already been. I haven't been home in probably five weeks. I've been on the road racing and doing shows. It is what you do. To come here to this race track and I go way back to the old trace track with Shirl Greer and (Don) Prudhomme," said the No. 6 qualifier.
"Greer was the (first Funny Car) champion. (Long-time team owner) Jim Dunn and all those guys in the early days I always said I all I had was a prayer I didn't have any money. I've been with Castrol 25 years but back then all I had was a prayer. None of my current sponsors like Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools, BrandSource or Auto Club were with me. I just came in praying to the Lord that he would be with me. "
Force visited the Bristol Dragway winner's circle for the third time and he is the only Ford driver to win at the historic track. The win today moves Force to four for the season which is the most races he has won in a season since he finished the 2005 season with five wins. This is the 7th win for JFR in twelve races and 9th win for Ford in 2010 season
In the semi-final race versus Tasca, the most recent NHRA Full Throttle national event winner, Force knew he would have to dig deep.
"I was lucky enough to get around Tasca who won last week in Englishtown. I knew he was going to put a good light on me. I shoved that ole Mustang in there as far as I could. I was trying to hold him off for Ashley (Force Hood) so she could stay fifth in the points. He has a good race car now. He has that BOSS 500 starting to talk. In this economy Ford needs some wins."
Force knows he is in an uphill battle to race week in and week out with the new generation of Funny Car drivers. Since his near career ending crash in Dallas in 2007 he has become a self described workout nut and regularly hits the gym 5-6 days a week no matter where he is in the country.
"To get the win was really great for me and I ain't quitting tomorrow or having a heart attack, knock on wood. At the end of the day there will be a day when I can't come back and I won't win. I just pray to the Lord to just keep me healthy and keep me fighting. I was in the gym last night and my wife said, 'Why are you working out so hard? You are going to wear out your legs.' If I don't keep working the legs I can't keep up with the kids. Look at those lights out there from guys like Tasca, Wilkerson, (Matt) Hagan. They are putting up forty numbers (.040 reaction times) and I am right up there with them."
"I'll be honest I was so jacked up on Full Throttle I thought I was going to explode. I am on oxygen and everything I can take just to get up with these kids. The hardest part will be getting these shoes off and the fire suit and climbing into bed tonight. It was great to have my wife here and especially Ashley. I know she was praying for me to win. She was upset when I was terrible and I was trying to get back and trying to get back. I am going to try and stay young. It is the fans that scream that give me the energy. Those fans and my competitors give me the energy. That is what makes me fight. This is a great sport and I absolutely love it. If I am ever going to go this is where I want to go right here at the race track. I love it that much," said the 130-time national event winner.
For the second week in a row Al-Anabi Racing backed driver Del Worsham ended 2009 Funny car champion Robert Hight's day. Today it was an uncharacteristically early first round exit for the Auto Club Mustang. The recent struggles do not have the three time winner this season worried.
"The biggest thing coming out of this race is we are making progress. Trying to get this clutch figured out under these hot conditions is extremely hard but I know Jimmy and my guys can figure it out. We are learning things every run. I am not worried at all. I have the luxury of being able to figure some things out. What we have back in Indy we know will work. We just did not have enough to carry us through the regular season and the Countdown. We chose to make the switch now. There is no perfect time to figure this stuff out. We decided to bite the bullet now," said the No. 13 qualifier at Bristol.
"This will make our whole team better. I am so glad to see John doing good again. His guys have his Mustang dialed in and I think they will be very tough down the stretch."
Ashley Force Hood came into race day as the No. 1 qualifier for the second consecutive race at Thunder Valley. She made it out of the first round after defeating journeyman Jeff Diehl but in the second round she dropped a close race to eventual finalist Tim Wilkerson. The tricky track conditions nipped at her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang all weekend but the 2007 Rookie of the Year is undaunted heading to Norwalk next weekend.
"That round against Wilkerson was kind of how our year is going. He runs 4.31 and we run 4.31. It was just a close race. My Mustang is getting down the track A to B which is what is going to matter this summer when it keep getting hotter and hotter. We didn't get hurt too much in the points and we'll get ready for Norwalk."
"I feel like I am in a racing groove. There is a point when the back to back races will become a grind but I am excited to get to Norwalk next week. I feel like it is easier when you have back to back races. You stay in the momentum of racing. Our Mustang has been running good and we'll keep working hard to go rounds. We qualified strong on Friday and we'll just try and do better on Sunday," said Force Hood.