HEADLINE: FORCE'S EIGHTH WIN AT PHOENIX IS 115TH OF HIS CAREER John Force bounced back from a first round loss in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and for the eighth time in 12 years drove his Castrol GTX Funny Car to...
HEADLINE: FORCE'S EIGHTH WIN AT PHOENIX IS 115TH OF HIS CAREER
John Force bounced back from a first round loss in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and for the eighth time in 12 years drove his Castrol GTX Funny Car to victory in the Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Nationals at Firebird Raceway.
Force, drag racing's biggest winner, beat Ron Capps and the Brut Dodge in the final round to extend to 19 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA tour event.
"It doesn't matter who won this race or who won Pomona," Force said. "We're not even going to look (at the points) until 10 or 12 races (into the season) to even get a strategy. Bottom line, there are a lot of good race cars and race teams out there and this is just the second race (of the year)."
The NHRA national record holder for quarter mile time (4.665 seconds) and speed (333.58 miles per hour), Force drove the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford past three Dodges and teammate Eric Medlen's Castrol SYNTEC Ford en route to the 115th victory of his career.
He beat Frank Pedregon in round one and three-time former NHRA Top Fuel champ Gary Scelzi in round two before turning back Medlen in the semifinals. The victory enabled Force to jump from ninth to second in POWERade points, just 12 back of current leader Phil Burkart Jr.
In reaching the semifinals for the second straight year at Firebird Raceway, Medlen moved up to sixth place in points. Rookie Robert Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford, won the first round of his career and moved into the Top 10 for the first time.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.760 seconds, 323.35 mph. Race results: Beat Frank Pedregon, Gary Scelzi, Eric Medlen and Ron Capps
Notable: 115th victory of his career and eighth in 12 years at Phoenix.
Quotable: "After losing in the first round at the Winternationals, the whole team was under pressure. I think people were looking to see how we would respond." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.806 seconds, 317.09 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Gilbertson, Gary Densham; lost to John Force
Notable: Reached semifinals for the second consecutive year at Phoenix
Quotable: "We had some problems in qualifying and we beat up a lot of equipment, but I was so proud of the SYNTEC team the way we came back from adversity. We've got a good package right now and I'm looking forward to Gainesville." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 35, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.723 seconds, 329.99 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone; lost to Ron Capps.
Notable: Set track speed record at 329.99 mph and posted personal best quarter mile time of 4.723 seconds.
Quotable: "I'm learning on every run. We made some real progress with this race car this weekend. It's stressful, but I'm having a lot of fun out there." -- ROBERT HIGHT.