ENNIS, Texas -- John Force is not a man known for subtlety, which may explain his fondness for the Texas Motorplex, the Dallas-area supertrack on which he could make history this weekend (May 26-28) in the fourth annual Castrol Nationals ...
ENNIS, Texas -- John Force is not a man known for subtlety, which may explain his fondness for the Texas Motorplex, the Dallas-area supertrack on which he could make history this weekend (May 26-28) in the fourth annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts.
Because of its all-concrete construction, the Motorplex for years has been a boon to horsepower brokers like Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly, the men most responsible for putting Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in position this week to tie the career record for NHRA victories held by retired Pro Stock star Bob Glidden (85).
With no concrete-to-asphalt transition to confuse the issue, success at the Motorplex typically has been more a product of raw power than finesse. And few, if any drivers have access to more of that power than Force and Castrol SYNTEC teammate Tony Pedregon.
In fact, Pedregon is the defending Castrol Nationals Champion and Force the winner of the fall race, the O'Reilly Nationals, each of the last two years. Between them, they hold all the track and event performance records.
"I have this thing about the Motorplex," Force said. "I guess it's because of the concrete. (Track owner) Billy Meyer is an old Funny Car racer. He knew what he was doing. It was a lot more expensive, but with the concrete, when you get cool air, you can go out there and tell your Crew Chief, 'I've got you 10 motors in the trailer, throw everything you got at this thing.' That's how you attack Dallas because it'll take everything you can throw at it.
"As a driver, all you have to do is stay in the groove," Force said. "You don't have to worry about (losing traction) coming off the concrete because the concrete never ends. But you get out of the groove, you can get in trouble. It'll put you in the wall..... that quick. It requires a lot of driver focus."
Of course, this year, especially for this race, the equation may have changed.
The "cool air" Force mentioned as factor may have been penciled out of the mix when the race was moved from early May to Memorial Day weekend.
Force comes into the event on a two-race winning streak interrupted only by last week's rainout at Englishtown, N.J. The nine-time Winston Champion put his national record-holding (4.788 seconds, 324.05 miles per hour) Castrol Ford in the winners' circle at Richmond, Va., April 30, and Atlanta, Ga., May 7.
A victory in Sunday's early eliminations (10 a.m., local time) would be his fourth at the Motorplex but only his first in his sponsor's title race.
He was runner-up in the 1997 and 1998 Castrol Nationals before losing in the second round a year ago.
Although he's won more often at Houston Raceway Park (six times), the eight time Auto Racing All-America selection prefers the Motorplex -- because of the concrete construction he hopes will propel him to his 85th win.
John Force at......
Texas Motorplex Ennis, Texas
<pre> Total starts: 16 Castrol Nationals starts: 3 Times No. 1 qualifier: 7 (1997, 1999 Castrol Nationals, 1992-94, 1998-99 O'Reilly Nationals) Final round appearances: 8 Castrol Nationals finals: 2 (1997, 1998) Wins: 3 (1993, 1998-99 O'Reilly Nationals) Won-Lost Record: 36-13 (7-3 in Castrol Nationals) Best Performances: *4.787 seconds, Oct. 23, 1998 *322.81 mph, Oct. 23, 1998 *track record
</pre> LAST YEAR -- After qualifying No. 1 and beating Gary Densham in round 1, John was upset by former crew member Cory Lee in the quarterfinals.=20
DID YOU KNOW:
John has qualified for 238 consecutive events dating back to the 1987 World Finals....he has won at least one NHRA event for 14 straight seasons, the longest such streak in Funny Car history....if John wins his eighth straight series championship this year, he would tie Bob Glidden for the all-time record with 10....the Castrol Nationals is one of only two races in the current series that John HAS NOT won. The other is next week's Prestone Nationals in Joliet, Ill.....John has beaten 25 different drivers en route to 84 career wins. He most often has beaten Cruz Pedregon -- 12 times in 19 final round meetings.....this is the 11th straight year that John has won at least three tour events, also a record....John has won more races in Texas (9) than in any state other than his home state of California (10).
Schedule: Qualifying at 2 pm & 7:30 pm (ET) Friday; Noon & 5 pm (ET) Saturday. Finals at 11 am (ET) Sunday. Sunday. (NOTE: Local starting time is 10 a.m., to accommodate same day TV coverage.)
The Race on TV: Same day coverage of final rounds, 4:30 pm (ET) Sunday, TNN