Reading: Force loses but wins at Reading

READING, Pennsylvania - John Force stumbled in the first round of the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Sunday but, thanks to Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon, he still managed to increase his lead over Jerry Toliver...

READING, Pennsylvania - John Force stumbled in the first round of the 16th annual NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Sunday but, thanks to Castrol teammate Tony Pedregon, he still managed to increase his lead over Jerry Toliver in the race for the 2000 Winston Championship.

Just minutes after Force was upset by No. 16 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr., Pedregon drove his Castrol SYNTEC Ford past Toliver with the quickest time of the first round, 5.010 seconds at 291.70 miles per hour.

As a result, Force increased his lead from 222 points to 226 points, a difference that was reflected in the fact that he qualified his Castrol GTX Ford No. 1 at a track record 4.836 seconds, 312.50 mph while Toliver qualified his Pontiac sixth.

After beating Toliver for the fourth straight time, Pedregon stopped Scott Weis in round two before losing a heartbreaking semifinal decision to Ron Capps by a final margin of LESS THAN .001 of a second.

WINNERS: Top Fuel, Joe Amato beat Gary Scelzi; Funny Car, Bruce Sarver beat Ron Capps; Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson beat Warren Johnson; Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Hines beat Angelle Seeling. NEXT EVENT: 12th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals, Heartland Park-Topeka, Topeka, Kansas, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 1st at 4.836 seconds (track record), 312.50 mph (track record) Race Results: Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr. Notable: Despite losing in the first round for the fourth time this year, Force increased his lead over second place Jerry Toliver by four points, 1,473-1,247, thanks to teammate Tony Pedregon. Quotable: "It's great when a plan comes together. This is what a two-car team is all about. We stumbled and Tony picked up the slack." - John Force

TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 11th at 5.021, 268.71 mph. Race Results: Beat Jerry Toliver, Scott Weis; lost to Ron Capps. Notable: Despite losing the semifinal by less than .001 of a second, Pedregon was encouraged by the race day performance of a Ford that had been struggling mechanically for the last two months. Quotable: "Naturally we were disappointed that we didn't get the win, but now we know we've got a good-running race car and I can't wait to get to Topeka (for the next race in the series)." - Tony Pedregon.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Matt Hines , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Scott Weis , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.