JOHN FORCE WINS 50TH NHRA WINTERNATIONALS POMONA --- John Force broke the longest dry spell of his historic career opening the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season with an emotional victory at the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA ...
JOHN FORCE WINS 50TH NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA --- John Force broke the longest dry spell of his historic career opening the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season with an emotional victory at the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals. Force was the model of consistency on race day defeating veteran Bob Bode, daughter Ashley Force Hood, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps with an average elapsed time of 4.123.
"I heard (Top Fuel winner Larry) Dixon say that he grew up in California and I'm from California too but I never grew up. I just love it and I have to tell you I can drink that Full Throttle. That stuff hops me up for a race like this. The 50th of this race at Auto Club Raceway is big and with Ford as official car of the NHRA, for all my sponsors Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, MacTools and BrandSource. This is twenty-five years with Castrol. It ain't about a paycheck it is all about you (the fans). You are the blood that flows in my veins," said Force from the winner's circle stage.
"I know where (Ron) Capps comes from. I tried to hire him years ago before (Don) Prudhomme snatched him up. The kid is fighting for what he wants. That is that championship. He's going to get that one of these days. A lot times it just takes a long time. He'll get there because he has the talent. That is why I armed up for him. I gave him everything I had. I knew this guy will tree you. (Capps' crew chief) Ed McCullough is going to throw a hardball. The weather is cooling down. We got the win."
"I live this game. You race a kid like Capps and up against Schumacher Racing. They are tough. You have to just keep your focus. We have shuffled our team around. Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly they have teamed up with Mike Neff. All them together with Jimmy Prock, John Medlen, Guido (Dean Antonelli) and Ron Douglas they were all in the think tank trying to figure me out. Just seeing the younger generation with the older generation it works. My change worked."
This was the 127th career victory for Force and the first since his win over Tim Wilkerson in Topeka on June 1, 2008, a span of twenty months and forty races. It is the 186th win for John Force Racing. It is the second win in a row for John Force Racing at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. In November at the season ending Auto Club Finals Mike Neff drove the Ford Drive One Mustang to the winner's circle.
Ironically Neff shifted gears this race and tuned Force to victory beside Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. Force was the no. 3 qualifier and on race day he recorded the quickest elapsed times every round. Neff's last win as a crew chief was June 10, 2007 in Joliet when he tuned Gary Scelzi to victory.
John Force Racing has won all three 50th annual or anniversary events in the history of the NHRA. Gary Densham, then a JFR driver, won the 50th Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in 2004 and Force won the 50th anniversary NHRA national in July of 2001.
"This is fifty years here. That is unique to be a part of that. You'll win a lot of races. I've won Winternationals and World Finals but to win this race that has the magic. I want my kids to look back. You know when you were great and the kids were little and nobody cared. They were like I don't care dad let's go to Disneyland. All of a sudden you aren't any good anymore and then all of a sudden you think you have done all you can do but your legs won't carry you. My trainer, Horn at Fanatics, told me if I kept working I could get my legs back. He told me I had to keep building my legs so I could push on that gas. My leg was shaking so bad last year holding the clutch and you can't drive like that. I wasn't going to cry about it. I didn't want you all to know I was so screwed up," said Force. "Over the winter I hit it harder and all of a sudden I had strength to get through the day. It is awesome. I remember I got in the treadmill I couldn't run for two minutes now I can go for an hour. That is a fact. I can't run with my knees but I can put it up to three or three and half. I haul tail. Man, this is big for me."
Force won a crucial round when he defeated his daughter Ashley Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the second round. They were the two quickest Funny Cars from round one and the odds were whoever won that race had the inside track on victory today.
As Force Hood rolled through the water box one of her parachutes fell out of the parachute pack and unfurled behind her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Her co-crew chief Ron Douglas immediately gave her the stop sign and she sat for minutes as her team furiously repacked her chute. Unfortunately, in the other lane John Force did not see what the problem was as he completed his burn out. He waited patiently but was unclear if he was making a single run or if Force Hood would be able to run beside him.
"I didn't know until I got out at the end that I had a parachute problem. I thought maybe someone fell or got bumped by the car. Ron was telling the guys to be sure to get the tires clean and then I thought maybe I rolled through some oil. They told me I was going to do a short burnout and back up. Then they decided there wasn't enough time to do a burnout at all and we were going to just pull up. Dad was already staged," said Force Hood from outside her trailer after the round loss.
"(My dad) thought he was on a single. I just remember thinking 'How can they send me down the track with oil on my tires?' I should have more faith in my team that they would never do that. I just stepped on it thinking I have no idea what this thing is going to do. It went right down the track. I knew I shouldn't have been worried about all these other things when none of it was correct. I don't know why I didn't think if the parachutes before. We have never had a problem like that before. It was just one of those fluke things. We didn't do the burn out so there were so many things that go along with doing the burn out that didn't happen."
"At the time I knew I just needed to wait and do whatever they told me to do. It wasn't that chaotic where I was sitting. I remember just sitting there and clicking my visor down which it the last thing I do before I pre-stage. I remember thinking let me get myself ready so that when I pull up I don't have anything else to think about. I remember thinking I am all set to go so I just pretended I already did a burn out so I could pull up and stage," added Force Hood.
"I was surprised it did go down the track. It wasn't as quick (running a 4.187 second elapsed time) as they wanted. They said it was heavier because of all the fuel still in it. The clutch didn't get warmed up enough. It still made it. That is something to just learn. The best part was that I was racing against one of my own teammates. So if I had to lose at least one of my teammates went on. I felt bad for dad because he was getting a lot of mixed signals. He wasn't sure what was going on. I was at least just getting my information from Ron. I didn't know what was going on but I knew what I was supposed to be doing. That is a good feeling for a driver," concluded Force Hood.
Newly crowned 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight's day ended unceremoniously early. The no. 1 qualifier Hight in his Auto Club Ford Mustang was the victim of a first round upset to no. 16 qualifier Cruz Pedregon. In just over an hour's time Hight was handed his Full Throttle champion's jacket and ring then dispatched from the first race of the season in the first round. Hight is extremely excited to be getting back on a track next weekend in Phoenix for the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
"(Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) is still baffled that we smoked the tires. Even after looking at the data. The tires weren't hot. I had it perfectly lined up in the center of the groove. I knew I left on it. I saw the amber. It felt awesome. I pedaled it and got back on it and it hooked. When it does that usually it goes. I stayed in it and then all of a sudden it turned sideways so I lifted. When it does that the tires really start spinning. They slow down and then they really speed up and it shoots you. Unfortunately it shot me across the center line and I couldn't bring it back," said Hight. "It wasn't going to run 4.30 anyway after pedaling it out that far. We have to not smoke the tires. It looks funny especially when Ashley goes out and runs 4.12 right behind us. It is just one of those deals and we'll move on. We are still learning this clutch package. It is not like last year when we were struggling to figure it out. We just have to fine tune this Mustang to get it to react the way we need it to. We'll get it."
"Going to Phoenix next weekend is huge for me. I don't have to think about this for a week. I can get right back to work. We'll get that work done and get ready to head to Phoenix and start over again. I am really looking forward to Phoenix. With this race being the 50th anniversary of the Winternationals it has been huge. It has been a crazy, crazy weekend. I'm back at my home track after winning the championship. I got my ring today and my champion's jacket. There were just lots of things going on. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am not complaining. It will be nice to get to a more normal race weekend. It is good to be back with the fans and all the sponsors. I have missed my team. They are all in Indy," said the two-time Winternationals winner.
In the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks Courtney Force lost in her first round match up on Saturday when here BrandSource Ford Racing A Fueler crossed the center line versus Art Trautman.
"I was hoping it would be a good straight solid run. It had some tire shake and that drove me over to the center line. My helmet kind of fell down on me and I couldn't see very well. That is when I lifted. I tried to pedal it and get right back into it when I got my vision back. Right when I did that my wheel was over and I hit a couple of cones. I did my best to drive it back into my lane. That is when I let off again," said the no. 2 qualifier.
"It is still a big learning curve. I am still learning but people can tell you what to do but there is no real way to know how to do it until it happens to you. I don't think I did too bad. I did hit a couple of cones but I am just really glad I was able to bring it back into my own lane and didn't hurt the other racer."
No.1 qualifier Brittany Force won her first round race against Brooks Brown but today her Jerry Darian tuned BrandSource A Fueler was just barely outrun by Shawn Cowie, 3.383 to Cowie's 5.374.
"That race was really close. We have had a great car all weekend. It has been pretty consistent. I could see I was coming up right against him and I knew he was right there. I would like to do more racing than my schedule will allow me to with school and student teaching. I am looking forward to getting to the next race and going some more rounds. I haven't been in my BrandSource A Fuel dragster in a while so this race was really nice. I was a little nervous that first run but I got back into my routine. Getting the no. 1 qualifier was great and it was good to be back," said Brittany.