Force wins season finale and 2002 championship. Highlights: John Force won a classic semifinal duel with teammate Tony Pedregon to claim his 10th consecutive NHRA Funny Car Championship and then beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round of the...
Force wins season finale and 2002 championship.
Highlights: John Force won a classic semifinal duel with teammate Tony Pedregon to claim his 10th consecutive NHRA Funny Car Championship and then beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round of the 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California Finals to win his 106th tour event.
In becoming just the 11th driver to earn bookend victories at Pomona Raceway (winning the opening and closing events in the series), Force drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang past the Pontiacs of Scotty Cannon and Cory Lee to set up a showdown with his protege.
Force used a great .447 reaction time and 4.954 quarter mile to win the showdown by inches.`Pedregon posted a solid .471 reaction and 4.935 second time, but came up short by .005 of a second.J The event victory was Force's eighth of the season and the 106th of his career, moving him into sole possession of second place on the all-time motorsports victory list behind NASCAR Winston Cup legend Richard Petty (200).
Pedregon, who drove his Castrol SYNTEC Ford to six victories during the season, wound up second in points.`Gary Densham, driver of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Mustang, finished fourth.
Because of two days of rain, sportsman racing involving Rob Slavinski, driver of the Castrol Super Clean dragster, continued on Monday.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.762 seconds, 324.05 mph.
Race results: Beat Scotty Cannon, Cory Lee, Tony Pedregon and Tommy Johnson Jr.
Notable: Semifinal victory over Pedregon sealed his 10th consecutive series championship; final round win over Johnson gave him eight wins in a season for the sixth time in his career and moved him to second place on the all time motorsports list with 106.
Quotable: "I did my job today and Tony and I race heads-up, just like I promised we would.`Tony's a great driver and he has a lot of championships ahead of him, but I'm not ready for them to throw me out just yet.`I've still got a couple races left in me."
TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 13th at 7.328 seconds, 285.59 mph.
Race results: Beat Bruce Sarver, Ron Capps, John Force
Quotable: "It was a very tough loss.`We had our chances, but we just didn't get the job done.`I told everyone that catching John (in the points) was one thing, but passing him was another.`He's very tough when his back is to the wall.`But I'm a very positive person and I know we can build on what we have here to make another run at the championship next year."
GARY DENSHAM, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car:
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.849 seconds, 313.51 mph.
Race results: Lost to Johnny Gray.
Notable: Finished fourth in points, the best finish of his 21-year career on the NHRA pro tour.
Quotable: "We had a chance to move up to third.`It would have been great to finish 1-2-3, but to put these three cars in the Top 4, well, that's a big accomplishment.`I'm just happy we're all going to be back next year.`I'd like to start again tomorrow."
Next event: K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9, 2003, Pomona, Calif.