FORCE CLAIMS 117TH TOUR VICTORY; EXTENDS POWERADE POINTS LEAD John Force won a battle of drag racing icons in Sunday's 41st annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway and, in the process, opened up an 80-point lead in his...
FORCE CLAIMS 117TH TOUR VICTORY; EXTENDS POWERADE POINTS LEAD
John Force won a battle of drag racing icons in Sunday's 41st annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway and, in the process, opened up an 80-point lead in his drive toward a possible 14th NHRA Funny Car Championship.
In winning for the second consecutive week, Force drove the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang past the Oakley Dodge of Gary Scelzi in a classic final round decided by just .008 of a second.
Force, who won for just the fourth time in 26 tries at National Trail, was clocked in 4.776 seconds at 324.51 mph; Scelzi in 4.764, 326.79 mph. It was Force's first victory in four final round meetings with the three-time former NHRA Top Fuel Champion.
The win, just Force's fourth at Columbus, enabled the 12-time Auto Racing All-America selection to extend to 15 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won three or more NHRA tour events. He won earlier this year at Phoenix, Ariz., and Atlanta, Ga.
It was Force's 183rd final round and 117th victory and it salvaged the day for Team Castrol which lost its other two threats in the second round. Scelzi took out No. 3 qualifier Robert Hight in the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford and Eric Medlen and the Castrol SYNTEC Ford was ousted by Ron Capps.
That set up the possibility of an all-Dodge final between Capps and Scelzi, both of them driving for Don Schumacher Racing. However, Force took first one, then the other out with his two best times of the entire weekend.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.845 seconds, 319.52 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Dale Creasy Jr., Cruz Pedregon, Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Claimed his second straight title, the 117th of his career and extended his lead in the race for the 2005 POWERade Championship.
Quotable: "It was a great race. Scelzi always gets up for me and I always get up for him. I've said all along that he's the guy to watch. We'll see him a lot more down the road." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.792 seconds, 325.06 mph.
Race results: Beat Del Worsham; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Reclaimed the No. 7 position in POWERade points.
Quotable: "Sure, we would have like to go a couple more rounds, but the car is back. We ran good all weekend and we can't wait to get to Topeka." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 35, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.786 seconds, 322.50 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Densham; lost to Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Remained the front runner in the race for the 2005 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award that identifies the NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year.
Quotable: "Jimmy and the crew gave me a great race car but that's why Gary Scelzi won three Top Fuel championships." -- ROBERT HIGHT.