FORCE MOVES UP TO NINTH PLACE IN COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang past two former world champions before a case of "happy feet" cost him a shot at his second consecutive NHRA tour...
FORCE MOVES UP TO NINTH PLACE IN COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang past two former world champions before a case of "happy feet" cost him a shot at his second consecutive NHRA tour victory and a provisional berth in the Countdown to the Championship.
Trying to overcome the worst start of his 30-year career, Force beat 2005 champion Gary Scelzi in a classic first round match and, in round two, beat 2003 champ Tony Pedregon for the 51st time to win his sixth consecutive round.
His title bid came apart in the semifinals when he was guilty of a foul start against Jack Beckman for which he accepted full responsibility.
"I was too amped up," said the 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion. "I was trying to get my energy up for these kids and a drank a bottle of Coke Blak on top of a bottle of POWERade (between the second and third rounds). My wife even asked me if I was sure (I wanted to do it). I did and I just went up there and got happy feet.
"It was all my fault," Force continued, "but at least I know what's wrong and I'll fix it. The important thing is we've got our 'ol hot rod back."
Indeed, after seeing his record qualifying streak end at 395 consecutive races and after qualifying 13th, 10th and 12th two times, the 58-year-old icon has qualified No. 5 and No. 6 at the last two events and moved into ninth place in POWERade points, one position removed from the Countdown.
Ashley Force, the leading Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, stumbled for the second consecutive race in the Castrol GTX Ford and will go into the Schuck's Nationals at Seattle, Wash., in 11th place, the first time she's been out of the Top 10 in three months.
Robert Hight, the 2005 Mile-High Nationals Champ, beat Gary Densham in the first round but saw his hopes go up in smoke in round two when a loose oil line on his Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford pumped liquid underneath the rear tires against two-time former NHRA Top Fuel Champion Scott Kalitta.
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TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 58, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.895 seconds, 317.12 mph
Race results: Beat Gary Scelzi, Tony Pedregon; lost to Jack Beckman.
Notable: Moved into ninth place, just one round out of the top eight.
Quotable: "I just messed up, but I know what I did wrong and I'll fix it. The big thing is we've got our race car back. "
ASHLEY FORCE, 24, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 18th at 5.026 seconds, 290.51 mph.
Race results: Did Not Qualify.
Notable: Failed to make the starting lineup for the second straight week.
Quotable: "It's been pretty frustrating the last two weekends but the good thing is that we race again in four days and this whole team is looking forward to Seattle."
ROBERT HIGHT, 37, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.862 seconds, 314.02 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Densham; lost to Scott Kalitta.
Notable: Qualified No. 1 for the 20th time in his career and remained second in POWERade points behind Ron Capps.
Quotable: "We had an oil line come loose right when I hit the throttle. That was pretty much it for us. It's unfortunate because we had a real good race car today."