Force Claims 113th Win; Extends Points Lead John Force won for the 113th time in his illustrious career, beating Tim Wilkerson in the final round of the 17th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park and driving...
Force Claims 113th Win; Extends Points Lead
John Force won for the 113th time in his illustrious career, beating Tim Wilkerson in the final round of the 17th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park and driving a stake into the competitive hearts of those pursuing him for the 2004 NHRA POWERade Funny Car Championship.
In winning for the fourth time this season but for the first time in seven years at Memphis, Force opened up a 220 point advantage on second place Gary Scelzi who he defeated in a monumental second round race decided at the starting line.
"I needed that," Force said of his victory over Scelzi. "I've made some (driving) mistakes lately and I sure didn't want my guys to starting losing faith in me. I was really armed up (for Scelzi)," who had beaten the 12-time series champ in similar fashion a week ago at Brainerd, Minn.
Force's points lead is the equivalent of 11 competitive rounds, a substantial edge considering the fact that only six races remain on the schedule. For Scelzi, Whit Bazemore and Del Worsham, who are closely bunched immediately behind Force, the challenge is to win 12 more rounds than the leader in those last six races.
"It's not over," Force said of the points race, "but I feel a lot better than I did coming in (to Memphis). We just have to keep the pressure on. Those are good race teams. They're not going to just give it to us."
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.899 seconds, 309.91 mph.
Race results: Beat Cruz Pedregon, Gary Scelzi, Gary Densham and Tim Wilkerson.
Notable: Again extended his points leader by winning for the 113th time in his career. Also extended to 340 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "I don't want my guys looking at me and saying, 'is he losing the edge to play the game with the young guys?' So, tonight I played the game. I feel good." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.896 seconds, 305.36 mph.
Race results: Lost to Phil Burkart Jr.
Notable: Retained his hold on fifth place in points, losing in the first round for the fifth time this season.
Quotable: "We smoked the tires. Then he did, too, but by that time, it was too late for me to catch him. We'll just have to amp up for Indy (and the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals)." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford
Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.866 seconds, 308.99 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone, Phil Burkart Jr.; lost to John Force.
Notable: Reached the semifinals for the first time in seven races.
Quotable: "Well, we improved. We got to the semifinals and that gives us some momentum going to Indy. I think we've got a car that can win it.." -- GARY DENSHAM.