Force Extends Points Lead in Bizarre Race Despite an early exit from the 25th Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, John Force took another step toward his 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship by padding his lead over second place Del ...
Force Extends Points Lead in Bizarre Race
Despite an early exit from the 25th Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, John Force took another step toward his 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship by padding his lead over second place Del Worsham in the race for the 2004 POWERade Funny Car Championship.
Force, drag racing's biggest winner with 111 tour victories and 12 championships, came into the race just three points ahead. He left with a 270-point advantage thanks to teammate Eric Medlen's victory over Worsham in round one.
Medlen, one of the leading candidates for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award presented to the NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year, moved from sixth to fifth in points despite his loss to Australian driver Robert Schwab in a tire-smoking second round.
After sitting in the rain and never turning a tire on Friday and after watching track records shattered on Saturday, the NHRA touring pros faced a more formidable condition on Sunday -- bright sunshine on a hot racetrack.
The result was a wholesale loss of traction that took four of the five points leaders out in the very first round - No. 1 Funny Car qualifier Whit Bazemore, teammate Gary Scelzi, Worsham and Team Castrol's Gary Densham.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.939 seconds, 309.34 mph.
Race results: Beat Jerry Toliver; lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Notable: Qualified for the 336th consecutive time and extended his lead over second place Del Worsham to 17 points.
Quotable: "We had a chance to really move out (in points) but, bottom line, we're leaving with a bigger lead than we had coming in and all three of our Fords are still in the hunt (for the championshp)." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.974 seconds, 318.24 mph.
Race results: Beat Del Worsham; lost to Robert Schwab.
Notable: Shattered the Bandimere Speedway track speed record, boosting it to 318.24 mph and moved up one position in POWERade points.
Quotable: "Man, that first round race was big. My job is to keep Del and Whit and those guys off of John. We had a chance to do some good and, fortunately, we did. I felt really good about that and it last just about an hour." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.942 seconds, 303.98 mph.
Race results: Lost to Bob Gilbertson.
Notable: Bad luck continued at Bandimere Speedway, a track on which he has not advanced beyond the second round in 18 appearances.
Quotable: "That wasn't exactly the script I wrote. Pretty disappointing but in less than a week we've got a chance to make up for it. We'll get after 'em at Seattle." -- GARY DENSHAM.