John Force raced into a tie with Bob Glidden for the career lead in NHRA tour victories Sunday when he beat Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon in the final round of the fourth annual Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Force...
John Force raced into a tie with Bob Glidden for the career lead in NHRA tour victories Sunday when he beat Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon in the final round of the fourth annual Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.
Force earned his 85th career victory, his third in succession and his fourth of the year with a dominating performance that started Saturday when he qualified No. 1 for the 95th time in his career.
On race day, he took out Al Hofmann (beating his arch rival for the 40th time) in the first round, Cristen Powell in round two and Ron Capps in the semifinals to assure the 12th all-Castrol final in NHRA Funny Car history.
Against Pedregon, Force gave away an early lead before driving by for the victory in 4.919 seconds at 313.26 miles per hour. Although he earned his 42nd wire-to-wire victory, it wasn't a cakewalk for the nine-time Winston Champion who faced tough challenges in each of the first three rounds.
He needed a 4.874 second time to beat Hofmann's 4.911, a 4.863 to turn back Powell's 4.964 and a 4.915 to counter Capps' 4.942.
Pedregon, on the other hand, struggled to reach the finals for the 24th time in his career and for the second straight time in the Castrol Nationals. He beat Bruce Sarver, Tim Wilkerson and brother Frank Pedregon to earn a shot against Force to whom he lost in the final round for the fourth straight time.
"I never raced against Bob Glidden," Force said, "so you really can't compare. He was from another era in another class. But I always admired him and I'm really honored to be in a position to break the record he set. Now that we've (tied the record), maybe we can get focused on the championship."
WINNERS: Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi defeated Larry Dixon; Funny Car, John Force defeated Tony Pedregon; Pro Stock, Vieri Gaines defeated Warren Johnson; Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Hines defeated Angelle Seeling. NEXT EVENT: Prestone Route 66 Nationals, Route 66 Dragway, Joliet, Ill., June 2-4, 2000.
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 1st at 4.872 seconds, 319.71 mph. Race Results: Beat Al Hofmann, Cristen Powell, Ron Capps and Tony Pedregon. Notable: Force claimed his 85th career victory by winning his sponsor's race for the first time in four tries. He previously was runner-up at the spring race in 1997 and 1998. Quotable: "I want to thank Castrol for providing the funding that allowed me to hire Austin Coil. He's got more wins than me because he won two championships with Frank Hawley before we ever got together 15 years ago. Without him, I'd probably be back driving trucks." -- John Force
TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 11th at 4.985 seconds. Race Results: Beat Bruce Sarver, Tim Wilkerson, Frank Pedregon; lost to John Force. Notable: Tony lost to his boss and teammate for the ninth time in 12 final round meetings. Quotable: "Honestly, we got some breaks today, but we didn't get any last week so it all evens out, I guess. We made some progress with our car but you go into the final against someone who's been running a tenth quicker, you have to take some chances. It's good to get back into a final round though, especially at the Castrol race." -- Tony Pedregon.
JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, tied Bob Glidden's career record of 85 NHRA tour victories Sunday when he beat teammate Tony Pedregon in the final round of the Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. The victory was the nine-time champ's first win in his sponsor's title race. He was runner-up in 1997 and 1998.
PREVIOUSLY AT THE MOTORPLEX: Although this is his first win in the Castrol Nationals, John has won the fall race, the O'Reilly Nationals, three times including each of the last two years. He is the track record holder at 4.787 seconds, 322.81 mph.
VERSUS TONY PEDREGON: John is now 9-3 in final round meetings with Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon. Overall, he his 29-6 advantage against the youngest of the Pedregon brothers. Tony won the only previous meeting this season -- in the second round of the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. John now has won the last four final round meetings. Tony last won at the 1998 O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
RECORDS: John is the NHRA national record holder for both quarter mile time (4.788) and speed (324.05 mph). He also is the track record holder (4.787, 322.81 mph).
FINAL ROUND NOTES
WINSTON POINTS: By reaching the final round for the fourth time in eight races, John moved into the Winston points lead for the first time in the new millennium, passing Jerry Toliver, who was beaten in round two by Ron Capps.
DID YOU KNOW: John was in the 131st final round of his career.....John now has qualified for 237 consecutive races. ...John is the only drag racer to have won the Driver of the Year Award for all of American motor racing (1996) .....John is one of only two Funny Car drivers to have broken 4.80 seconds; one of only three to have reached 320 mph....Force's mostly-black Nine-Time Champion version of the Castrol GTX Mustang lasted only two competitive rounds at the Castrol Nationals. A blower explosion inflicted damage on the body in round two and Force ran the last two round with his more familiar green, red and white Mustang....target date for the debut of the new Ford Mustang bodies being built at Roush Racing is mid-June in time for the June 16-18 Pontiac Excitement Nationals at Columbus, Ohio....John has broken the 320 mph barrier 15 times. No one else has done so more than once....The victory extended John's current record to three-in-a-row. He won April 30 at Richmond, Va., and May 7 at Atlanta, Ga.
TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., driver of the Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford Mustang, was denied a second straight victory in the Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts when he lost to teammate John Force in the Sunday finals. It was Pedregon's 24th final round appearance in only 93 starts for Team Castrol and John Force Racing. It's Tony's third runner-up finish of the year (after earlier finishing second in the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and the SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas, Nevada) and, unfortunately, it extended his victory drought to a career high 19 events. He hasn't won since July 1999 when he prevailed in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo.
QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile in Funny Car history (4.779 seconds last March in the MAC Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.).
DID YOU KNOW? Tony was the initial winner (1996) of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (and the $10,000 cash bonus that accompanies it) which identifies one of the sport's future stars....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than John Force to have broken the 4.80 second barrier and one of only three (with Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.) to have eclipsed the 320 mph barrier.....Tony is an accomplished custom painter specializing in driving helmets and motorcycle fuel tanks. Among those for whom he has painted helemts are Kenny Bernstein, Cory McClenathan, teammate John Force, Pro Stock points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Funny Car racing brothers Cruz Pedregon and Frank Pedregon.