Columbus: John Force preview

On His Most Troublesome Track, Force Debuts Re-Branded Ford Castrol GTX Start Up Provides New Platform for Champ COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11-13) -- John Force is looking for a fresh start at National Trail Raceway, a track on which he has a ...

On His Most Troublesome Track, Force Debuts Re-Branded Ford

Castrol GTX Start Up Provides New Platform for Champ

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11-13) -- John Force is looking for a fresh start at National Trail Raceway, a track on which he has a poorer winning percentage than at any other in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The upshot is that at this week's 40th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Force's all-conquering Castrol GTX 0x01afrd Mustang will have a new look touting Castrol's latest formulation for advanced engine protection.

The Castrol GTX Start Up logo will appear prominently on Force's 325 mile-an-hour Ford along with the tagline, "protection from the moment you turn the key."

The 111-time tour winner is hoping that the "new look" will translate into new success at a track that has proved especially troublesome.

Traditionally, Force has struggled mightily at National Trail. In 24 appearances, he's won on just three occasions and has reached the final round only five times.

Although he won in 2001 and was runner-up a year ago, the 1996 Driver of the Year usually is a spectator for the final round. He's won just 12.5 per cent of his starts in the Pontiac Nationals. By contrast, he's won 24.8 per cent of all his career starts (111 of 405).

He's hoping the new affiliation with Castrol GTX Start Up will help him turn things around and, at the same time, enhance his bid for the 2004 POWERade Championship.

For most of his Funny Car rivals, three victories in one event would be the grist for an autobiography.

However, when you've won at least one time at every track in the series, your expectations, understandably, are a little higher.

After yielding the No. 1 nameplate for the first time in 11 seasons, albeit to former protege Tony Pedregon, Force has acknowledged that he's anxious to re-assert himself in a Funny Car category that has become almost as competitive as Pro Stock.

Through nine races, however, he's had mixed results.

He's won twice -- extending to 18 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has had at least one tour victory, but he's also been ousted in the first round two times and, three weeks ago, saw his NHRA national performance record of 4.721 seconds eclipsed by both Pedregon and points leader Whit Bazemore, the Dodge driver who owns the new mark of 4.713 seconds.

Furthermore, while he has been within 12 points of the lead, he has yet to sit atop the standings, extending to 32 the number of races run since last he was the Funny Car points leader.

Entering this week's event, he is third in the order behind Bazemore and Del Worsham. Castrol teammates Eric Medlen and Gary Densham are just behind him in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

-www.johnforceracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Densham , Eric Medlen