Force ends 2003 victory drought Highlights: John Force ended a season-long victory drought Sunday by driving the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a convincing victory in the 24th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere ...
Force ends 2003 victory drought
John Force ended a season-long victory drought Sunday by driving the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a convincing victory in the 24th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Force, drag racing's most prolific winner, beat old rival Cruz Pedregon in the 21st career final round meeting between the only Funny Car drivers to have won a series championship in the last 13 years.
Force's final round time of 5.044 seconds was just good enough to hold off Pedregon's 5.060.
In earning his 107th NHRA tour victory, Force leapfrogged Ron Capps and teammate Gary Densham into four place in POWERade points behind teammate Tony Pedregon, Whit Bazemore and Del Worsham.
"It's a good feeling," Force said. "I knew it had been a long time because my (winners' circle) interview was so bad. Nothing came out like I wanted. This keeps me in the ballgame mentally. It was just a good day.
"The hill was tricky, even when you got cloud cover and thought (the car) was going to run. To make those calls, to push it or not push it, (Austin) Coil, Bernie (Fedderly), (John) Medlen, Jimmy (Prock), Dickie (Venables), they were all making calls, reading the track so that we didn't make a mistake.
"Bottom line, it went A to B and we won. I still have the drive to win. You win 12 championships and everybody says, 'well, he's over it or he lost the edge.' I haven't lost nothing. I just needed a race car and needed to figure out the Christmas Tree (starting system)."
Brian Millington, a freshman at Wyoming Technical Institute in Cheyenne, Wyo., was an honorary crew member on the John Force-driven Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang during the 24th annual Mopar Mile High Nationals. Millington is one of eight high school-age students selected from hundreds of nominees as a Castrol GTX Top Tech. In addition to tickets to this week's races, he will receive souvenir apparel from Castrol GTX, a Mac Tools toolbox and $1,000 in tools and the donation of Castrol GTX and Castrol GTX High Mileage motor oil for use in his school's vocational automotive program. Millington maintains an almost perfect GPA at Wyoming Tech, where he is a member of the National Vocational Technical Honor Society and has worked with the International Motor Contest Association. He also has been involved with the Eagle Scouts of America, in acting, jazz, pep, concert and marching bands and, while in high school, was the 2001/2002 president of the Belleville Actors Guild.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 5.103 seconds, 296.76 mph.
Race results: Beat Johnny Gray, Whit Bazemore, Frank Pedregon and Cruz Pedregon.
Won his 107th tour event, his first of the 2003 season and moved from sixth to fourth in POWERade points.
"It was great to get back in the winners' circle but it was even better to take out Whit Bazemore (in the second round) and help Tony in the points race."
TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 5.034 seconds, 301.74 mph.
Race results: Lost to Scotty Cannon.
Ended at 23 the number of consecutive races in which Tony had advanced beyond the first round.
"Something happened in the clutch timers. It wasn't what we expected. I was hoping Scotty would knock the tires loose (lose traction), but it didn't happen. All you can do is regroup and go on to the next one."
GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny
Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 5.121 seconds, 276.75 mph.
Race results: Lost to Cruz Pedregon.
First weekend out with a new McKinney Corporation chassis (like those already beneath teammates Force and Pedregon) delivered mixed results.
"It was all good. We were on the best run of the weekend. Then it broke a piston, the engine quit and that was all bad."
CARQUEST Nationals, Seattle, Wash., July 25-27; Fram/Autolite Nationals, Sonoma, Calif., Aug. 1-3; Lucas Oil Nationals, Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 15-17; Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Ind., Aug. 29-Sept. 1; Keystone Nationals, Reading, Pa., Sept. 14; O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 21; NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., Sept. 28.