FORCE SITS AND WAITS WHILE TEAMMATES BEGIN INDY TEST SESSION 14-Time Champion Watches Rain for Third Day at Toyo Tires Nationals READING, Pa. -- If John Force is going to do any testing prior to the start of next week's 53rd annual Mac Tools...
FORCE SITS AND WAITS WHILE TEAMMATES BEGIN INDY TEST SESSION
14-Time Champion Watches Rain for Third Day at Toyo Tires Nationals
READING, Pa. -- If John Force is going to do any testing prior to the start of next week's 53rd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, he'll have to do it here at Maple Grove Raceway where, for the third straight day, racers and officials unsuccessfully tried to complete the marathon 23rd annual Toyo Tires Nationals.
The NHRA will try again at 9:30 a.m., Eastern time, on Wednesday to finish the 17th race in the POWERade Series and send its teams and race crews on to Indianapolis where closed testing began Tuesday at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
Unlike Sunday and Monday, when there was at least some racing between the periods of rain, not a single race car went down the trcck on Tuesday and the NHRA sent the teams back to their respective hotels at 3 p.m.
Force, who had planned on making at least six runs during two days of Indy testing in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, now is hoping to make just two -- the semifinal and final at Maple Grove.
He will oppose Tim Wilkerson in one of the Funny Car semifinals. Del Worsham and Tony Pedregon will race in the other, which has Countdown to the Championship implications. Worsham needs to win out to grab the eighth and final spot in the Countdown. If he doesn't do so, the position goes to journeyman Jim Head.
The race is down to the semifinals in Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Only one race remains in Top Fuel and it, too, will have a bearing on who races for the championship. The eighth position in the Countdown currently belongs to David Grubnic but Doug Herbert still can get it. All he has to do is beat No. 1 qualifier and No. 1 seed Rod Fuller in the pending final.
While Force continued to wait out the weather, teammates Ashley Force and Robert Hight were proceeding with pre-race preparations for the U.S. Nationals, a race in which Hight is the defending Funny Car champion and in which Ashley won her first NHRA trophy in 2004 as the driver of the Castrol dragster owned by Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows, a car in which she won five times in the Top Alcohol Dragster division.
Ashley will be making her full complement of test runs in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang while Hight, who earned the No. 2 seed in t he Countdown, hopes to make just one after an incident at Maple Grove sent his Auto Club team scrambling to change chassis for the fourth time this year.
Hight's car suffered structural damage in a first round victory over 2005 series champion Gary Scelzi and couldn't make the call for the second round.
The whole back end was twisted and bent," said the 2005 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year. "The car wasn't race-able and we aren't even sure if it's fixable."
As a result, the team is having the chassis with which it began the season, the one in which Hight recorded the two quickest quarter miles in history (4.646 and 4.636 seconds), repaired. That car suffered front end damage when Hight hit both walls after an engine explosion last April at Topeka, Kan., and the team has been erratic ever since.
The plan is to put a new front half on that car in time to make at least one test run on Thursday.