ENNIS, Texas -- There no longer is any doubt that John Force will win his seventh straight Winston Funny Car Championship in a decade in which he has had no peer in motor racing, any form of motor racing, from motocross to Formula 1. The only...
ENNIS, Texas -- There no longer is any doubt that John Force will win his seventh straight Winston Funny Car Championship in a decade in which he has had no peer in motor racing, any form of motor racing, from motocross to Formula 1. The only question that remains is when and where the 79-time tour winner will mathematically eliminate his last remaining challenger -- Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon. His next opportunity comes this weekend (Oct. 22-24) at Texas Motorplex where he can clinch by repeating as Funny Car champion in the O'Reilly Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC . He also can lock up the $200,000 Winston bonus simply by winning as many rounds as his protege during Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations. That Force would win the championship was perhaps a foregone conclusion after the seven-time Auto Racing All-America selection drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to NHRA national records of 4.788 seconds at 324.05 miles per hour en route to victory in six of the season's first eight races. That performance propelled him into a virtually insurmountable lead made more secure by the fact that no one other than Pedregon was able to win more than a single event until Tommy Johnson Jr. won the AutoZone Nationals at Memphis, Tenn., two weeks ago. If clinching his ninth title in 10 years wasn't incentive enough, Force returns to the all-concrete Texas track on which he became the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.80 second barrier (4.787 last October) within reach of a couple more milestones. First of all, a victory at the Motorplex would give him his fourth 10-win season. Only one other driver, Darrell Alderman, has won as many as 10 races in a season -- and he did so only once. Secondly, the Yorba Linda, Calif., pro continues to close in on the career victory record set by retired Ford Pro Stock star Bob Glidden, who won 85 times en route to 10 series titles in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. In his prime, Glidden totally dominated Pro Stock racing. Alderman has done the same; likewise Warren Johnson and the late Lee Shepherd. Don Prudhomme was virtually unbeatable in the Funny Car division when he won championships in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978., However, no one has dominated over a 10-year period like Force. In 192 starts this decade, he has put a Castrol GTX Funny Car in the final round 105 times. During a 1996 season that earned him the Driver of the Year award for all of American motorsports, he went to the finals 16 times in 19 races, won 13 times and posted top speed of the meet on 14 occasions. All are records. That's not bad for a former truck driver who didn't reach the winners' circle a single time in his first 13 professional seasons.
O'Reilly Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC Oct. 22-24, 1999 Texas Motorplex Ennis, Texas
Motorplex starts: 15 Times No. 1 qualifier: 6 (1997, 99 Castrol Nationals; 1992, 93, 94, 98 O'Reilly) Final round appearances: 7 Event wins: 2 (1993, 1998 O'Reilly Nationals) Won-Lost Record: 32-13 Best performances at the Motorplex: 4.787 seconds, Oct. 23, 1998 322.81 mph, Oct. 13, 1998 Noteworthy: John's track record 4.787 last year was the first sub-4.80 quarter mile in Funny Car racing history.
John has qualified for 227 consecutive events dating back to the 1987 Winston Finals at Pomona, Calif....John has won at least one NHRA event for 13 consecutive seasons and has won three or more races for eight straight years, a record unparalleled in the sport....John officially has broken the 4.80 second barrier five times at four different racetracks (Texas Motorplex, Houston Raceway Park, Gainesville Raceway and Heartland Park-Topeka). He also was credited with a 4.79 during pre-season testing at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz. He and Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon remain the only Funny Car drivers to have run in the 4.70s....the Motorplex is the only track on which two different Funny Car drivers (Force and Pedregon) have broken the 320 mph barrier.