POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6-9) -- Inspired by the performance of injured Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, John Force will try to overcome his own injuries this week in a bid to defend his Funny Car title in the 39th annual Automobile Club of...
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6-9) -- Inspired by the performance of injured Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, John Force will try to overcome his own injuries this week in a bid to defend his Funny Car title in the 39th annual Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at Pomona Raceway.
Force, who will finish third in NHRA POWERade points this year at the wheel of the Castrol GTX0x00ae High Mileage Ford Mustang, suffered serious lacerations to both hands in a freak accident last Wednesday at his Yorba Linda, Calif., shop facility.
"I really felt sorry for myself for a couple days," said the sport's most prolific winner (with 109 tour victories), "but I was watching the ball game on ESPN and Favre was playing quarterback with a broken thumb -- and it was on his throwing hand."
"I played a little quarterback myself and it's hard to believe he was that good with an injury like that. I figured if he can throw like that with a broken thumb, I should at least try to tough it out."
Despite the injury, Favre made his 198th consecutive start at quarterback, an NFL record. He completed 18 of 28 passes for three touchdowns in a 30-27 Packers' victory and, afterward, he acknowledged that extending his "iron man streak" was a major motivation.
That, Force said, was what brought him out of his funk.
Although his streak of consecutive NHRA Funny Car titles was halted this year at 10 by Castrol SYNTEC teammate Tony Pedregon, Force has an existing streak of which he is equally proud, one jeopardized by the injuries he suffered last week when a crystal bowl trophy shattered in his hands.
The NHRA national record holder, Force has made 322 consecutive starts. The last time the 54-year-old icon wasn't in the starting field was on Oct. 31, 1987 when he failed to qualify for this same event, a stumble that cost him second place in points.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Force said, "but I'm going to try to do it. I'd like to end the season with a win."
Actually, the 11-time Auto Racing All-American can't wait for 2003 to end. His "Lucky 13 Tour" turned out to be anything but.
After changing chassis manufacturers, changing the engine/clutch combination and changing his starting line routine to address a change in the NHRA's Christmas Tree starting system, Force found himself outside the Top 10 four races into the season.
He rallied to lower his own national record (to 4.721 seconds) and put his Castrol Ford in the winners' circle at Denver, Seattle and Dallas.
For anyone else in the sport, a three-victory, national record-setting season would be cause for wild celebration.
For Force, though, anything less than a championship has become a disappointment. In fact, regardless of what occurs this weekend, this will be Force's worst season since 1989, when he won just one time and finished sixth in points.
"I'm ready to get this one over," Force said, "but I can't wait for next year. We've got a good hot rod."