Joliet II: John Force preview

Funny Car barrier in jeopardy as series returns to Route 66 National record-holder could be first to break into 4.60s JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26-28) -- John Force has a question. If a record falls and there's no one from the media there to see it,...

Funny Car barrier in jeopardy as series returns to Route 66
National record-holder could be first to break into 4.60s

JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26-28) -- John Force has a question. If a record falls and there's no one from the media there to see it, does it still make a noise?

With the majority of media attention focused this week on the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just 185 miles down the road, Force is concerned that if he or teammate Tony Pedregon or someone else becomes the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.70 second barrier, it'll be like a tree falling in the woods.

Who's to know?

The 12-time reigning NHRA Champion drove his Castrol GTX0x00ae High Mileage Ford Mustang to the quickest time in Funny Car drag racing history last May when he was clocked in 4.721 seconds at Route 66 Raceway.

This week, when the tour returns to the Chicago-area track for the third running of the CARQUEST Nationals, Force believes that his hybrid Ford is capable of going even quicker maybe even into the 4.60s.

Not that his 7,000 horsepower Ford is the only car capable of such a feat, it's just that it's the one with the most impressive pedigree.

After all, over the last 111/2 seasons, Force and Castrol GTX have maintained a virtual death grip on the record. They've been the listed record holders for all but 385 days during that span, one in which the only other drivers to own even brief possession of performance bragging rights were Cruz Pedregon (from March 6, 1998 until March 19, 1999) and current points leader Whit Bazemore.

Force first set the record on March 7, 1993 at Houston, Texas. He since has lowered the standard nine times, most recently in qualifying for last May's Lucas Oil Nationals at Route 66.

The winner of a record 108 tour events, including races this year at Denver and Seattle, Force expects weather conditions to determine if and when he is able to go again where no one has gone before.

"If it's cool, everybody'll be loading up on Friday (for the 6:30 p.m. qualifying session), he said. "I don't know if you could run in the (4.60s) -- everything would have to be perfect: the track, the weather, the race car and the driver -- but I think you could set the (NHRA national) record again."

The likelihood that a record, or even a milestone, could be achieved this weekend is enhanced by the fact that three of the last four times the national Funny Car record has fallen, it has been eclipsed at Route 66 Raceway where Force set the record at 4.763 seconds on June 1, 2001, Bazemore lowered it to 4.750 on Sept. 30, 2001 and Force further lowered it last May 30.

Furthermore, with the race for the 2003 POWERade Championship still very much an open issue with Bazemore leading Pedregon by just seven points and Force by less than 200, the 20 bonus points available to whomever sets the national record could actually change the balance of power.

"With just five races left, every point counts," Force said. "We know that and so does the Schumacher group. Bottom line, If the opportunity is there, we'll go for (the record) and I'm sure they will, too." J Castrol is a global leader in marketing premium automotive product brands such as Castrol GTX, Castrol GTX High Mileage, Castrol SYNTEC, Castrol SYNTEC Blend and Castrol Super Clean. Castrol North America markets its lubricants and services to lube operators, automotive service providers and select retailers in North America. Castrol, the automotive marketing and technology leader with more than 100 years' experience, offers world-class retailer and installer support under one united global brand. Call 1-888-CASTROL or visit


John is the only drag racer ever named Driver of the Year for all of American motor racing (1996)...John is trying to extend to 319 the record number of consecutive NHRA national events for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car. The last time he failed to make a starting lineup was at the 1987 World Finals at Pomona, Calif. (Oct. 31, 1987)......with his July 20th victory at Denver, Colo., John extended to 17 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA national event. The record is 22 straight seasons by Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson....with the start of qualifying for the CARQUEST Nationals on Friday, John will have been the NHRA world record holder for Funny Car elapsed time for 3,935 days or more than 10 of the last 11 1/2 years (4,220 days).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Cruz Pedregon