Force Pads Lead Despite Semifinal Loss Despite a foul start in the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC, John Force still was able to extend his points lead by 22 Sunday in the race for the 2004 ...
Force Pads Lead Despite Semifinal Loss
Despite a foul start in the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC, John Force still was able to extend his points lead by 22 Sunday in the race for the 2004 NHRA POWERade Funny Car Championship.
Force, who led qualifying at the Texas Motorplex for the 11th time in his career, appeared to be on his way to a sixth Fall Nationals victory when he miscued against eventual winner Del Worsham.
"I knew Worsham would be good on the lights," Force said, "and I was armed up (to match him). Apparently, I was too up. I need to calm down. We're going to test (Monday) and I'm going to fix it. We'll be ready for the fight when we get to Chicago (for this week's CARQUEST Nationals)."
Meanwhile, Force's teammate, Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Eric Medlen, also went out in the semifinals when his Castrol SYNTEC Ford was left sitting at the starting line with an oil leak while Cruz Pedregon singled into the final.
"It was leaking oil out of the back of the blower (supercharger)," Medlen said. "We couldn't fix it in time. It's disappointing but at least we have our performance back."
Force's ouster was made somewhat less traumatic by the fact (1) he left the race with a 228--point lead over Gary Scelzi, and (2) he could celebrate his daughter Ashley's win in the Top Alcohol Dragster class.
Ms. Force, 21, followed her Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win by driving the Mattel Toy Store dragster past the similar machine of Bill Reichert in the Fall Nationals final. It was the second career win for the former high school cheerleader.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.784 seconds, 324.20 mph.
Race results: Beat Jeff Arend, Gary Densham; lost to Del Worsham.
Notable: Extended qualifying streak to 342 consecutive events and earned the 122nd No. 1 qualifier award of his career while extending his lead in the race for the 2004 NHRA POWERade Funny Car Championship.
Quotable: "We had the best car but I wasn't able to bring it home. The good news is that we got out a little further in points." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 10th at 4.879 seconds, 317.79 mph.
Race results: Beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Phil Burkart; lost to Cruz Pedregon.
Notable: Stormed back from consecutive first round losses to reach the semifinals for the eighth time this season before an oil leak left him sitting at the starting line.
Quotable: "We got our performance back. We had a problem in the semifinals, which was disappointing, but I think we have a car that can win one of these last races." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.855 seconds, 318.17 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone; lost to John Force.
Notable: Held on to fifth place in POWERade points.
Quotable: "We didn't do the job in qualifying. We wound up eighth and it put us behind for the whole race. All we can do is get ready to win Chicago." -- GARY DENSHAM.
NEXT EVENTS: CARQUEST Nationals No. 2, Joliet, Ill., Oct.1-3; Keystone Nationals, Reading, Pa., Oct. 8-10; O'Reilly Fall Nationals, ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 19-31; Automobile Club of Southern California World Finals, Pomona, Calif., Nov. 11-14.