Chicago John Force, Tony Pedregon Qualifying Notes

FIRST ROUND NOTES JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 96th time in his career, the sixth time in nine races this season that...


JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 96th time in his career, the sixth time in nine races this season that John has started from the No. 1 qualifying position. This is the second straight time he has claimed the pole at Route 66 Raceway. During qualifying, Force lowered his own track record from 4.856 to 4.851 seconds. He also set a speed record at 312.74 mph. With the $4,000 in Budweiser bonus money he earned today, Force has earned a total of $384,000 in qualifying cash.

SEASON-TO-DATE: John won the three most recent events in the 23-race NHRA Winston Series – April 30 at Richmond, Va., May 7 at Atlanta, Ga. and May 28 at Dallas, Texas. He also won the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz., last February. As a result, he has extended to 14 the number of consecutive years he has won at least one NHRA national event and to 11 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least three races.

PREVIOUSLY AT CHICAGO: The Prestone Route 66 Nationals is one of only two races in the series in which John has not yet won a title. The only other is the Nationals contested for the first time this year at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

CAREER RECORD: Last week John tied Bob Glidden's NHRA career record by winning for the 85th time. With a victory Sunday, he would become the most prolific winner in NHRA history, regardless of classification.

RECORDS: John is the official NHRA national record holder for both quarter mile time (4.788 seconds at this race last year) and speed (324.05 miles per hour last year at Gainesville, Fla.).

VERSUS JOHN LAWSON: This will be the first career meeting between John and first round opponent John Lawson. However, Force is quite familiar with Lawson's Crew Chief, Mark Oswald. Force was 24-25 versus Oswald when the latter drove Funny Cars in the 1980s and ‘90s for Paul Candies.

CASTROL GTX VERSUS CASTROL SYNTEC: As the No. 1 and No. 9 qualifiers, John Force and Tony Pedregon would meet in the second round if both survive the first.

DID YOU KNOW: John now has qualified for 239 consecutive races, the longest streak in Funny Car drag racing history......John is the only drag racer to have won the Driver of the Year Award for all of American motor racing (1996).....John was runner-up last February for ESPN Espy Awards for Driver of the Year and Driver of the Decade....John has beaten 25 different drivers en route to 85 career wins.


TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., driver of the Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford Mustang, will start the third annual Prestone Route 66 Nationals from the No. 9 qualifying spot. This is only the fourth time in his career he has started from No. 9. Although he's never won a race as the ninth qualifier, three of his eight career wins have come from a position outside the quick eight. He won the 1999 AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and the 1999 Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo., from the No. 11 spot and the) and the 1998 Mile-High Nationals from No. 10.

PREVIOUSLY AT ROUTE 66: Tony has yet to win a round of racing in two appearances at Route 66 Raceway. He was beaten in the first round of the 1998 event by Jim Epler; in the first round last year by Chuck Etchells.

VERSUS FRANK PEDREGON: Tony is 1-2 against his older brother but won the most recent meeting – in the semifinals of last week's Castrol Nationals at Ennis, Texas.

SEASON TO DATE: Tony has gone to the finals in three of eight events this season. However, he still is seeking his first victory. He lost to Jerry Toliver at Pomona, Calif., Jim Epler at Las Vegas, Nevada and teammate John Force in last week's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.

CAREER RECORD: Although this is only his fifth full season on the NHRA tour, Tony already has eight victories in 24 career final round appearances in the Funny Car division. That's 24 final rounds in his first 93 starts for Team Castrol and John Force Racing.

QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile ever recorded by a fuel Funny Car: 4.779 seconds on March 21, 1999 at Gainesville, Fla.

DID YOU KNOW? Tony was the initial winner (1996) of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (and the $10,000 cash bonus that accompanies it)....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than Force to have broken the 4.80 second barrier and one of only three drivers (with Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.) to have exceeded 320's been 19 races since Tony last won an NHRA national event (at the 1999 Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo). That's the longest victory drought of his career....although their cars are similar, there is one major performance difference between Tony's Ford and John's. Tony's uses new five-disc clutch technology; John's the four-disc.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Bob Glidden , Tommy Johnson Jr.