FORCE WINS DELAYED FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS CONCORD, NC --- After a nearly 24 hour rain delay it only took 4.036 seconds for John Force to win the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord. Severe storms and rain forced the ...
FORCE WINS DELAYED FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS
CONCORD, NC --- After a nearly 24 hour rain delay it only took 4.036 seconds for John Force to win the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord. Severe storms and rain forced the postponement of the final round of the historic event to Monday but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for Force as he hoisted the Wally trophy in the winner's circle.
"I'd like to personally thank Bruton Smith and his son Marcus because they took money in this economy and they spent it. He deserves that reward. For me to be able to win this first race is big. The hardest part was racing Ron Capps. He is always tough. He is killer on that tree. Racing (Matt) Hagan now that John Medlen is over there will put the fear in you, too and through all of that racing my own daughter. That is the hardest thing. I have to be honest she told me that when she pulls up beside me she doesn't leave anything on the table. I had to get that attitude," said Force in the media center.
"Her mother was proud. I joke about her mom beating me up but she even said to me not bad for an old guy. Your daughter was right out the window. I am just really proud of Ashley because she is learning the game and I know the pressure. My old knees were knocking and I have been doing this for 33 years."
"I also really want to thank my sponsors. For three years now I have struggled. They were paying me big money. Castrol, Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools, and Ford signing me to a five year deal. I want to clarify what I said on TV. I said some of my other sponsors are pushing me out. I didn't mean they were pushing me out of the seat I meant they were trying to push my contracts out more years. In this economy that is so important. At the end of the day I am having Ashley car come up into the winners circle because we do this as a team. We have to race against each other on Sundays we delivered for the fans, for the NHRA and for Bruton Smith."
The win continued an impressive streak of specialty race wins for John Force and John Force Racing. Force opened the season winning the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals. He also won the Winston Showdown Top Fuel vs. Funny Car Invitational at Bristol Dragway in 1999 as well as the 50th anniversary NHRA specialty race in Pomona. This is Force's 128th national event win and his second of the season. Force has reached three final rounds in the first four races of the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing season. John Force's teammate Gary Densham won the 50th annual Mac Tools US Nationals in 2004
"It is just a little taste of history. I gave the comparison of Shirl Greer who was the first Funny car championship. We recently lost Shirl and there will only be one first champion. I hear about that wherever I go whether it is shows or events. This is special like beating the dragsters at another one of Bruton's races at Bristol. The biggest thing for me is the money that Bruton Smith has invested in this sport is that NHRA gave him the chance to run four lanes. I don't know how it is going to play out. There are a lot of positives and negatives. We have to see what the fan response is. What ESPN thinks. How the racers feel. How the NHRA and Bruton feel."
Force leaves the "Bellagio of Drag Strips" with the points lead and a lot of confidence in himself and his entire John Force Racing operation thanks to the strong runner-up finish by daughter Ashley Force Hood on Monday. Ashley's final round result of 4.042 seconds at 316.38 mph set the national speed record and moved her into the No. 5 position in the Full Throttle point standings. The JFR tandem out ran the Don Schumacher pairing of Ron Capps (4.088 at 306.33 mph) and Matt Hagan (6.736 at 105.27 mph).
Force Hood was filled with mixed emotions at the top end not because she lost to her father but rather because she had no idea where she stood in the final standings.
"I was frustrated at the top end only because I was confused. The light came on in my lane and no one was talking to me at all on the radio. I got out and the first person I yelled at was my husband. I was like, 'Dan you guys have a radio up there you need to tell me something.' I got out thinking I won and totally confused," said Force Hood.
"I was the final car to pull up (on the starting line) so I didn't know who was in which lane. I was very thankful to see him (John Force) with a crowd around him. I figured he must have won. In the big picture it is more important that we were consistent and the two of us were able to come out on top over the two Schumacher teams."
"Our teams were pumped about that. My team was happy we were able to make such a good run. That was one of the best runs I have ever made. I have run a 4.04 before but I rolled in on that run. It probably would have had a better ET and been one of our best runs ever since the 1000 ft. We are really excited about our speeds. I think the biggest thing about leaving this weekend with a car where we wanted it. We have all our parts and pieces together and we can get back and be focused on this championship."
Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Mustang team will head to Houston Raceway Park as the defending event winner.
"It felt good to get our car back. It has been really consistent this weekend. We haven't gone a lot of rounds this year so to get to the final here was big especially considering everything that was going on this weekend. We were really excited to maneuver our way through all the competitors and get to race against dad and two of the Schumacher cars. You have two top teams battling it out against each other. I think the new day brought us all new challenges for everybody. We were able to figure ours out," said Force Hood.
For 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is an event he is glad to have in this proverbial rearview mirror.
Hight lost half his 8,000 horsepower early in the run when four cylinders briefly misfired. However, when three of the four uncooperative cylinders re-fired, the 14-time tour winner still thought he might be okay. Unfortunately the damage already had been done. The Auto Club Ford had already moved to the left of the desired racing groove and crew chief Jimmy Prock's supposition is that as it drifted nearer the centerline, the left tire began to spin while the right tire continued to track forward. That shot the blue-and-white Mustang across the centerline and into the path of the Toyota of Jeff Arend. The two cars came together as Hight's Mustang slowed and Arend's brushed past him in the left side.
Although the damage was confined primarily to the carbon fiber bodies and the headers, it was an unexpectedly early end of the day for both drivers.