Joliet II: John Force Saturday summary

Force Shatters The 4.70 Barrier in Joliet Qualifying Points Leader Guides Castrol GTX Start Up Ford to 4.697 Seconds JOLIET, Ill. - Defying conventional wisdom, John Force shattered what may be the last remaining performance barrier...

Force Shatters The 4.70 Barrier in Joliet Qualifying
Points Leader Guides Castrol GTX Start Up Ford to 4.697 Seconds

JOLIET, Ill. - Defying conventional wisdom, John Force shattered what may be the last remaining performance barrier in Funny Car drag racing Saturday when he pushed the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang through the quarter mile timers in 4.697 seconds at 332.75 miles per hour in qualifying for the fourth annual CARQUEST Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

In becoming the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.70 second barrier, Force surprised everyone, including crew chief Austin Coil who, just one week ago, unequivocally had stated that under the current rules structure, which limits the nitromethane content in the fuel mix to 85 per cent, there would be no record-setting opportunities for the remainder of the 2004 season.

"We were anticipating a low 4.72," Coil said, "but, you have to understand, we were in uncharted territory with regard to fuel volume and several other things. Plus, we were on an outstanding racetrack in weather conditions that were extraordinary."

Force went into Sunday's eliminations needing a run of 4.744 of quicker to make his 4.697 the official NHRA national record. The NHRA's antiquated certification procedurer requires a back-up run within one per cent. The official record entering eliminations was 4.713 seconds by Whit Bazemore, a mark set last spring on the same Route 66 quarter mile.

Force, the current POWERade points leader, also was the first to break the 4.90 and 4.80 second barriers. He was clocked in 4.889 seconds on July 6, 1996 at Topeka, Kan., and in 4.787 seconds on Oct. 24, 1998 at Dallas, Texas. Now retired Funny Car driver Chuck Etchells beat him to the first sub-5.00 second time when he was clocked in 4.987 seconds at Topeka on Oct. 2, 1993.

Winner of a record 113 tour events, Force is seeking an unprecedented 13th NHRA Funny Car championship. If he is successful, he would extend his team's streak of consecutive titles to 12.

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Austin Coil