Castrol GTX high mileage driver seeks first win at Memphis since 1997 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 19-21) -- He's been called the "Elvis of the Asphalt" and that's just fine with John Force, the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion whose fascination...
Castrol GTX high mileage driver seeks first win at Memphis since 1997
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 19-21) -- He's been called the "Elvis of the Asphalt" and that's just fine with John Force, the 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion whose fascination with Elvis Presley dates back to his days as a kid in Bell Gardens, Calif.
Although he never met Presley, Force always was a big fan. Moreover, he has many ties to the rock-and-roll icon, the least of which is not the fact that, in conjunction with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., he twice has raced Castrol GTX® High Mileage Funny Cars with a Presley theme.
In addition, one of his NHRA championship-winning Castrol Ford Mustangs is on permanent display in the Presley auto museum across the boulevard from Graceland.
Fittingly, then, the sport's biggest winner returns this week to Presley's adopted hometown in need of a little Elvis magic.
That's because his hopes of extending one of the most incredible streaks in sport hinge on his performance in this week's 16th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Force has won 10 consecutive NHRA Championships. It's not be too difficult to grasp the enormity of that accomplishment. No one else in ANY sport has come close. Not the Yankees. Not the Celtics. Not the Earnhardts or the Unsers or the Andrettis. No individual. No team. Ten straight series titles.
Yet, unless he ends a long victory drought at Memphis, a track one which he hasn't won since 1997, the 108-time tour winner's reign of terror finally may over. After all, he comes into the season's 18th event 209 points off the lead of Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon and 157 back of second place Whit Bazemore.
It's a margin that is formidable, if not unsurmountable.
To catch up, Force must win 11 more competitive rounds than Pedregon and eight more than Bazemore over the season's last six events
"We've had our chances," Force said. "But, bottom line, the driver has screwed up too much. My job now is to protect Tony's back and beat Baze whenever I can."
Indeed, Force has been guilty of three foul starts this season, the most recent in the first round of the Aug. 17 Lucas Nationals at Brainerd, Minn. That's after fouling out just four times in 25 previous seasons on the NHRA tour.
The problem is that the 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection not only started the season with a different chassis and a different engine/clutch combination, he also had to make major concessions in his driving routine.
First, he opted to shorten the pre-race "burnouts" after determining that the longer ones were compromising the life of the engine. Then he had to adjust to new LED lights in the Christmas Tree starting system that, in effect, improved his reaction times so dramatically that it fostered a case of red light-itis.
Now, though, the sport's biggest winner says he's back on track. The question is, "is it too late?"
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