FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE REVELL NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Quite the sportsman: There's a simple reason why John Force probably is the most popular drag racer on the planet these days: He wins, and wins with class, never forgetting his...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
REVELL NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Quite the sportsman: There's a simple reason why John Force probably is the most popular drag racer on the planet these days: He wins, and wins with class, never forgetting his fellow competitors or legions of fans. Here's a recent example of Force's sportsmanship. He beat rival Cruz Pedregon in the final of the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone earlier this month at Memphis, Tenn., after Pedregon's McDonald's Pontiac Firebird was engulfed in flames halfway down the quarter-mile. Immediately after the race, Force jumped into the ambulance where medical officials attended to Pedregon and gave Pedregon his winner's medallion. *Slump, what slump?: All talk of a slump by six-time NHRA Winston champion John Force ended after Force won four of five races from mid-August to early October in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Force opened this season with two victories but then went winless for the next 12 events, his longest drought this decade. That drought caused many to whisper that Force had lost the edge that delivered six NHRA Winston championships this decade and a record 13 victories last season. Yeah, right. "Compared to last year, we were in a slump," Force said. "When you win like we did last year, it's tough to do it again. It's a head trip. You miss winner's circle, you miss the win checks from Winston." Force appeared to struggle because crew chiefs Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly worked all spring and summer on perfecting a new, high-horsepower engine combination. They finally got a grip on the extra power in the late summer. Speed is the true measure of horsepower, and recent results show that Force has regained the power advantage. Force set an NHRA speed national record of 314.35 mph at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone earlier this month at Memphis, Tenn. His speed is the fastest by a Funny Car in NHRA history. He broke the record of 313.15 that he set one race earlier, the Sears Craftsman Nationals Sept. 25-28 at Topeka, Kan. "When the pack catches up, you have no other option than to try new combinations," Force said. "New motor combinations are tough, but when a number of good cars start to run the numbers, you have to do something." *Do the math: John Force must earn no less than one qualifying point more than second-place Whit Bazemore and win two elimination rounds at this event to clinch his seventh NHRA Winston championship. Force leads Bazemore by 338 points. "As I get older, I'm getting more mellow," Force said. "A good E.T. slip and a cold beer makes me happy these days. Seven's heaven, though. "I'm more worried about going to heaven than I am about winning my seventh. You only get one chance to go to heaven." Bazemore didn't help his cause by failing to qualify at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone earlier this month at Memphis, Tenn. It was the second time this season that Bazemore missed the show, as he also failed to qualify for the Mac Tools Gatornationals in March at Gainesville, Fla. He was 17th, one spot out of the field, at both races. "Our hopes for the Winston championship are gone now, but that's fine," Bazemore said. "We're not concerned with where we finish because we're happy with our season. "We didn't start this season expecting to be in the battle for the championship, so we're actually way ahead of schedule. We're excited about next season, where we'll have continued excellent support from Winston." *Sponsor search: The sponsor search may be coming to an end soon for Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon and car owner, former NFL coach Joe Gibbs, have been searching for sponsors since late May, when current sponsor McDonald's announced it would leave NHRA Winston Drag Racing after this season. "Right now, it's looking good," Pedregon said. "There are a lot of good things happening, but nothing is nailed down yet. "I'm confident that we should have something nailed down in seven to 10 days. One way or another, we will be on the track in 1998. It's in Joe Gibbs' hands now, and you couldn't ask for a better guy to do that for you." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Oct. 17 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 18. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Oct. 19. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 16. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Revell Nationals. Call Texas Motorplex at (800) 668-6775. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. Call Ticketmaster Dallas at (214) 373-8000. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Revell Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 19. TNN also will show one hour of live, first-round racing during its "NHRA Today" show at 11 a.m. (CDT) Oct. 19. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30-