JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTXÂ® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 95th time in his career, the fifth time in eight races this season that John has started...
JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the nine-time and reigning Winston Funny Car Champion. This is the 95th time in his career, the fifth time in eight races this season that John has started from the No. 1 qualifying position. This is the eighth time John has been the No. 1 qualifier at the Texas Motorplex and the third time in four years he has won the "pole" in his sponsor's title event. He also was No. 1 in 1997 and 1999. With the $4,000 in Budweiser bonus money he earned today, Force has earned a total of $380,000 in qualifying cash. Of his three Motorplex victories (in the O'Reilly Nationals in 1993, 1998 and 1999), all came from the No. 1 spot.
SEASON-TO-DATE: John won the two most recent events in the 23-race NHRA Winston Series -- April 30 at Richmond, Va., and May 7 at Atlanta, Ga. He also won the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz., last February. As a result, he has extended to 11 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least three tour events.
PREVIOUSLY AT THE MOTORPLEX: On Oct. 23, 1998, John became the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.80 second barrier when he was clocked at 4.787 seconds at the Motorplex. That remains the track record. John has won three times at the Motorplex but is after his first win in the spring race in which he was runner-up in 1997 and 1998.
CAREER RECORD: John is one victory shy of tying Bob Glidden's career record for NHRA tour victories (85).
RECORDS:John is the official NHRA national record holder for both quarter mile time (4.788 seconds at this race last year) and speed (324.05 miles per hour last year at Gainesville, Fla,). He also has gone quicker and faster than anyone else under the new NHRA rules which limit nitromethane content to a maximum of 90 per cent of the fuel mixture. He was clocked in 4.826 seconds at Richmond and at 321.50 mph at Gainesville, Fla. He also owns the Motorplex track records at 4.787 seconds, 322.81 mph.
VERSUS AL HOFMANN: John has won more rounds against first round foe Al Hofmann than against anyone else. He is 39-13 against Hofmann in his career, 8-1 in first round meetings.
CASTROL GTX VERSUS CASTROL SYNTEC: As the No. 1 and No. 11 qualifiers, John Force and Tony Pedregon could meet in an all-Castrol Funny Car final. Should both advance that far, it would be their 12th final round confrontation. Force has won eight of 11 final round meetings thus far.
DID YOU KNOW: John now has qualified for 238 consecutive races, the longest streak in Funny Car drag racing history......John is the only drag racer to have won the Driver of the Year Award for all of American motor racing (1996).
TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., driver of the Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford Mustang, will start the fourth annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reily Auto Parts from the No. 11 qualifying spot. This is the sixth time in his career he has started from No. 11, a position, surprisingly, from which he has earned two of his eight career victories (the 1999 AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and the 1999 Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo.).
PREVIOUSLY AT THE MOTORPLEX: Tony is the defending champion in his car sponsor's title race. A year ago, he outran Dean Skuza in the final round to earn the biggest payday of his career. The $140,000 winner's share included a $100,000 No Bull bonus from series sponsor Winston. TEXAS CONNECTION: Tony Pedregon can trace his roots to eight generations of Texans. His mother was born in San Antonio and, before he moved the family to California, the late Frank Pedregon, lived in El Paso.
SEASON TO DATE: Tony has gone to the finals in two of seven races this season, losing both times to the WWF. He fell to current points leader Jerry Toliver in the season-opener at Pomona, Calif., and to Toliver's teammate, Jim Epler, at Las Vegas, Nevada.
CASTROL GTX VERSUS CASTROL SYNTEC: As the No. 11 and No. 1 qualifiers, Tony Pedregon and John Force are in position to oppose one another in an all-Castrol Funny Car final for the 12th time in their careers. John leads the intra-team series (8-3).
CAREER RECORD: Although this is only his fifth full season on the NHRA tour, Tony already has eight victories in 23 career final round appearances in the Funny Car division.
QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile ever recorded by a fuel Funny Car: 4.779 seconds on March 21, 1999 at Gainesville, Fla. He is the second quickest to teammate John Force under NHRA's new 90 per cent nitromethane rules, having run 4.830 seconds at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.
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)....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than Force to have broken the 4.80 second barrier and one of only three drivers (with Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.) to have exceeded 320 mph....it's been 17 races since Tony last won an NHRA national event (at the 1999 Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo). That equals the longest victory drought of his brief pro career.