Force Claims 2004 NHRA Powerade Funny Car World Championship in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS -- John Force clinched the NHRA POWERade Funny Car world championship Saturday by qualifying for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas...
Force Claims 2004 NHRA Powerade Funny Car World Championship in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- John Force clinched the NHRA POWERade Funny Car world championship Saturday by qualifying for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Force joins champions Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), who secured their respective series crowns earlier in the season.
To mathematically eliminate all challengers, Force needed only to qualify for the 22nd of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Force drove his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang to a 4.777 second run at 319.75 mph to qualify seventh in the 16-car elimination bracket.
It is the latest conquest for Force, who dominated the category during the 1990s by winning nine world championships in the decade. He added three series crowns from 2000-2002 before his then teammate Tony Pedregon ended his amazing streak by winning the championship last season. Force, 55, from Yorba Linda, Calif., earns a $400,000 bonus from NHRA and POWERade for winning the championship.
"I needed this," Force said. "I'm having fun again. I've been so caught up in the business that I've been forgetting to have fun, but this is fun. People thought that once Tony won and ended my streak that I was done. Well, I'm right here. I never left. I never said I had to win every year. No one can do that. There's too much competition out here."
Although he didn't dominate the competition like in past championship-winning seasons, Force came on strong during the second-half of the year while several of his competitors struggled. He won four races in 10 final rounds and claimed six No. 1 qualifying positions. He earned precious bonus points by clocking a national record performance earlier in the month in Joliet, Ill. with an amazing 4.665 second run.
"This ain't about proving I can win; this was about letting everyone know I'm still a big player in the game," Force said. "I'm still fighting, and I ain't going away. I'm proud of Baze (Whit Bazemore), (Gary) Scelzi, and Del Worsham for being the kind of stand-up guys they are. Whenever they were up front this year and we were way down, they still showed respect and said I was the guy to beat. I noticed it and I appreciate that."
Force says this championship is one of his most gratifying, given the level of competition. He expects winning future titles to be even tougher.
"The changing of the guard is happening," Force said. "We can all see that. But it doesn't happen overnight. The young kids need time to get better and become drivers. I plan on staying until that happens, how ever long it takes. It's no secret that we're building for the future on this team. We got Eric (Medlen) with a year (of experience) now, and we're hoping to add my son-in-law (Robert Hight) to the team real soon. My daughter Ashley will be turning pro after two more years, maybe less."