Force runner-up at Sears Craftsman Nationals Highlights: John Force went to the final round for the second NHRA straight tour event but remained winless for the season when Del Worsham sped to a best-of-the-day time of 4.886 to win the seventh...
Force runner-up at Sears Craftsman Nationals
John Force went to the final round for the second NHRA straight tour event but remained winless for the season when Del Worsham sped to a best-of-the-day time of 4.886 to win the seventh annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
Force, the sport's biggest winner with 106 tour victories, sped to his best performance of the weekend in the final when his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang was clocked at 4.936 seconds, 314.09 miles per hour.
Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough to chase down Worsham, who won for the second time this season and moved past Team Castrol's Gary Densham into third place in season points.
It was Force's 165th career final but that was little consolation to the 12-time series champion who is trying to fight himself back into contention for a record 11th straight championship.
Force beat points leader and teammate Tony Pedregon in the semifinals to get a shot at his second straight win at Gateway. Nevertheless, Pedregon was able to extend his lead to 143 points over second place Whit Bazemore at the midpoint of the 2003 campaign.
Despite his semifinal exit, Pedregon kept alive a pair of streaks. For one thing, he qualified in the top three for the 12th straight race. For another, he advanced beyond the first round for the 23rd straight race, the longest current streak in the series.
Carl Jones, a junior at Edwards County High School in Ellery, Ill., was an honorary crew member on the John Force-driven Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang during the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Jones is one of eight high school-age students selected from hundreds of nominees as a Castrol GTX Top Tech. In addition to tickets to this week's races, he will receive souvenir apparel from Castrol GTX, a Mac Tools toolbox and $1,000 in tools and the donation of Castrol GTX and Castrol GTX High Mileage motor oil for use in his school's vocational automotive program. Edwards, who plays varsity football and is active in 4-H, hopes one day to earn degree in automotive technology. His love for automobiles began at age eight when he placed fourth in a local go-kart race. He rebuilt a mini-kart engine at age 12 and at 14 purchased a 1969 Pontiac Tempest with money earned raising and showing cattle.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: No. 10 at 4.959, 297.22 mph. Race results:
Beat Gary Scelzi, Dean Skuza, Tony Pedregon; lost to Del Worsham.
Extended to 312 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified a Castrol-backed Funny Car and reached the final round for the second straight event.
"You've got to give credit to the Worsham family. To run low ET in the final, we didn't expect that. We knew they'd make a run at us, but we thought 4.93 would be good enough. It wasn't." -- JOHN FORCE.
TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.895 seconds, 314.97 mph.
Beat Dale Creasy Jr., Frank Pedregon; lost to John Force.
Extended lead in race for the the 2003 POWERade championship by winning for the sixth time this season.
"To be honest, it was a disappointment (to lose to Force in the semifinals). The important thing is to focus on the big picture and the fact that we extended our points lead. We just have to stay focused for the rest of the season." -- TONY PEDREGON.
GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.858 seconds, 316.97 mph.
Lost to Del Worsham.
Set track speed record in qualifying No. 1 for the fifth time in his career, all with Team Castrol.
"That was all bad. It smoked the tires (lost traction) right at the hit of the throttle. We just didn't have enough data to run in the heat and it bit us." -- GARY DENSHAM.