Seattle: Quick stats from Prolong Nationals

KENT, Washington - John Force returned to the Winston winners' circle in spectacular style Sunday, beating points leader Jerry Toliver and all three Pedregon brothers en route to victory in the 13th annual Prolong Super Lubricants ...

KENT, Washington - John Force returned to the Winston winners' circle in spectacular style Sunday, beating points leader Jerry Toliver and all three Pedregon brothers en route to victory in the 13th annual Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway.

Drag racing's most prolific winner, Force claimed his 87th career victory and his fifth Northwest Nationals title by driving his Castrol GTX Ford past Frank Pedregon's tire-smoking Pontiac in the final round.

The win, Force's sixth of the 2000 season, cut the nine-time champion's deficit from 73 points to 32 points in his bid to claim an unprecedented eighth straight series championship and a record-tying tenth overall.

Frank Pedregon was Force's 27th different final round victim. At Seattle, he joined a list that already included his brothers Cruz, who lost to Force in the 1993 finals, and Tony, who lost to the champ in an all-Castrol final in 1996.

    In the final round, Force was clocked in 4.972 seconds, the quickest 
competitive time of the weekend.   

"We knew we were going up against some tough conditions," Force said. "Our goal was to go down the track and we did that on eight straight runs (four in qualifying and four on race). That's a tribute to my crew and especially my braintrust - Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen.

"Toliver's got a great team over there and the fight ain't over. They're going to be there to the finish but so are we. We'll do it all over again at Sonoma."

* * * *

WINNERS: Top Fuel, Gary Scelzi defeated Doug Kalitta; Funny Car, John Force defeated Jerry Toliver; Pro Stock, Richie Stevens defeated Jeg Coughlin Jr. NEXT EVENT: 13th annual Autolite Nationals, August 4-6, Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California.

JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 2nd at 4.952 seconds. Race Results: Beat Cruz Pedregon, Tony Pedregon, Jerry Toliver and Frank Pedregon Notable: Victory was Force's first since his record-breaking 86th win last June 4th at Chicago, Ill. Quotable: "Hey. About time. We needed this one. Toliver was putting the pressure on us. If the semifinal had've gone the other way, he'd have been a whole race up on us in the points. Now we've got a fight." - John Force

<pre> TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Qualifying position: 7th at 5.039 seconds. Race Results: Beat Al Hofmann; lost to John Force. Notable: Tony ended a two-race first round winning streak and, at the same time, kept his hold on third place in Winston points behind Jerry Toliver and John Force. Quotable: "If we're going to make a run for the championship, we're going to have to start this week at Sonoma. We're disappointed that we didn't go a couple more rounds (at Seattle), but at least John won the race." - Tony Pedregon.

2000 Winston Funny Car Points (Unofficial/13 of 23 races complete)

1. Jerry Toliver, WWF Firebird (3)                          1,084
2. John Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang (6)               1,052
3. Tony Pedregon, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang (1)       848
4. Ron Capps, U.S. Tobacco Camaro                       839
5. Jim Epler, WWF Camaro (1)                                732
6. Scotty Cannon, Oakley Camaro                         615
7. Dean Skuza, Matco Tools Avenger                      604
8. Del Worsham, CSK Firebird                                593
9. Whit Bazemore, Kendall GT-1 Camaro (1)                   592
10. Al Hofmann, Mooneyes Firebird                           538

Note: season victories in parentheses (Bob Gilbertson also has a victory this season)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Scotty Cannon , Cruz Pedregon , Jerry Toliver , Austin Coil , John Medlen