Force Tries To Regain Momentum On Track On Which He Set Record 12-Time Series Champion Seeking Second 2004 Victory JOLIET, Ill. (May 21-23) -- Stung by his first round ouster at last week's Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, drag...
Force Tries To Regain Momentum On Track On Which He Set Record
12-Time Series Champion Seeking Second 2004 Victory
JOLIET, Ill. (May 21-23) -- Stung by his first round ouster at last week's Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, drag racing's biggest winner tries to reclaim lost momentum this week on the racetrack on which he set the current NHRA national quarter mile record.
"We had momentum," acknowledged 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force, winner of at least one NHRA POWERade tour event for 18 consecutive seasons, "but we let it get away."
Indeed, after driving the Castrol GTX® High Mileage™ Ford Mustang to a May 3 victory in the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn., Force appeared poised to move past Del Worsham and into the points lead he has occupied so frequently in past seasons.
However, he never was a factor at Atlanta and, after advancing as high as second, just 42 points off the lead, he slid back to third place, the same position in which he finished a year ago after stringing together 10 consecutive championships.
As a result, Force spent the time between events re-evaluating his team, top-to- bottom. After meeting extensively with all four of his crew chiefs Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly, John Medlen and Jimmy Prock and with every member of his 53-man crew, Force determined that one of the main problems lay with himself.
"I've been out chasing money (seeking additional sponsorship for his three-car team)," Force said, "making appearances for sponsors, doing media, building a new shop in Indianapolis, expanding the shop in California. Bottom line, we had a meeting and the crew chiefs told me I've been so concerned with the future that I haven't been paying attention to the present.
"So I promised that I'd get my focus back where it belongs if everyone else would, too. It was a big wake-up call. Sometimes you forget why you're here."
Force's revelation could mean trouble for those trying to end the 11-year John Force Racing reign in the Funny Car division.
After all, Force was clocked in 4.721 seconds in qualifying for last year's spring race, a time that still stands not only as the official NHRA national record but as the quickest time in Funny Car history.
"This is a great racetrack," Force said. "It's where I won my 86th race (breaking Bob Glidden's career record) and it's where I set the record. Even though the track is (newly resurfaced), we expect our ol' heap to go right down it. I think we've finally got everybody's mind right."
Bidding for an unprecedented 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship, Force has shown some brief flashes of the form that, from 1990 through 2002, carried him to 12 championships and one runner-up finish.
In addition to a convincing victory at Bristol, Force was the No. 1 qualifier at the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., extending to 19 the number of consecutive years in which he has won a "pole."
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