FORCE'S STUMBLE OPENS THE DOOR TO THE DODGES AT VEGAS John Force's 10th first round loss of the season opened the door and Dodge drivers Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps took advantage of the opportunity in the fifth annual ACDelco Las Vegas...
FORCE'S STUMBLE OPENS THE DOOR TO THE DODGES AT VEGAS
John Force's 10th first round loss of the season opened the door and Dodge drivers Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps took advantage of the opportunity in the fifth annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The result was another lead change in the race for the $400,000 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship.
Force, who regained the lead by driving his national record-holding Castrol GTX Start Up Ford to a dramatic victory at Dallas, Texas, two weeks ago, gave it back to Scelzi after losing a 4.848-4.849 first round decision to Del Worsham in a battle between the drivers who finished 1-2 in points a year ago.
With Force and rookie teammate Robert Hight on the sidelines after one round and Eric Medlen, driver of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford, joining them a round later, Capps and Scelzi had a clear path to the final round where Capps' victory pulled him to within two points of his teammate with one race remaining.
Force, drag racing's most prolific winner, will enter the season finale at Pomona, Calif., 28 points behind Scelzi, the equivalent of roughly two rounds of racing.
"We got whipped," Force said. "(There's) not much else you can say. Scelzi and Capps knew what they had to do -- and they did it. Give 'em the credit. And give credit to Worsham, too. That's a good team -- another good team.
"We're disappointed, but it's not the end of the world -- or the end of this points race. We're going to test (this week) and work on a couple things that'll put us back in the game when we get to Pomona (for the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California Finals). "
While the Funny Car race will go right down to the wire, the Las Vegas race crowned 2005 champions in two other pro categories. Greg Anderson won for the third straight year in Pro Stock and Tony Schumacher for the second consecutive season in Top Fuel. Andrew Hines remains solidly atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings although former champ Angelle Sampey closed ground with a runner-up finish at LVMS.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.766 seconds, 324.98 mph.
Race results: Lost to Del Worsham.
Notable: 10th first round loss of the season dropped him 28 points behind new leader Gary Scelzi.
Quotable: "It's not easy, but it's not over. Pomona (site of the season-ending Auto Club Finals) is one of our favorite tracks and we've got a race car that'll run. We know that." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.782 seconds, 323.50 mph.
Race results: Beat Frank Pedregon; lost to Gary Scelzi.
Notable: Assured himself of no worse than a fifth place finish in POWERade points with an opportunity to gain one position at the season-ending Auto Club Finals.
Quotable: "We really felt bad that we weren't able to help John (by beating Scelzi in round two), but this is a pretty resilient team. All three of these cars will be ready. I know that." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 35, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.775 seconds, 327.35 mph.
Race results: Lost to Mike Ashley.
Notable: Will finish no worse than fifth in POWERade points, a performance that won't hurt his bid for the 2005 Auto Club Road to the Future award as the series' Rookie of the Year.
Quotable: "To lose in the first round for the third straight race is pretty frustrating, but we'll figure it out and be ready to win at the Finals -- ROBERT HIGHT.
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Nov. 3-6 Auto Club of S.C. Finals Pomona, Calif.