Veteran Still on Top in Race for POWERade Title SONOMA, Calif. (July 30 - Aug. 1) -- Like the commodity for which this valley is famous, John Force just seems to get better with age. The 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, driver of the...
Veteran Still on Top in Race for POWERade Title
SONOMA, Calif. (July 30 - Aug. 1) -- Like the commodity for which this valley is famous, John Force just seems to get better with age.
The 12-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, driver of the Castrol GTX® Start Up™ Ford Mustang, returns this week to Infineon Raceway in a most familiar position atop the POWERade point standings.
Coming off a victory last week at Seattle, Wash., one that extended to 15 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least THREE tour events, Force leads second place Del Worsham by 93 points (five rounds).
The 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection forged his latest lead not by overpowering the competition with raw horsepower, but by not beating himself. It's a strategy that over the last 19 seasons has yielded 112 tour victories, six of which he earned at Infineon.
"Everybody thinks Austin Coil is a mad scientest," Force said, "but he's not. He's conservative. When you race on your own money like he did back in the days of the Chi-Town Hustler (when he was both crew chief and co-owner of a car driven by Pat Minick), you learn to conserve parts and protect your pocketbook.
"I get mad at him sometimes because I think he's too conservative but if we'd gone out and smoked the tires (lost traction), I would have complained about that, too. He's been making the right tune-up decisions for 30 years so I guess I should leave him alone."
When left alone, Coil is a recognized genius at taking everything a racetrack will give him and nothing more.
A case in point was last week's CARQUEST Nationals. Faced with a host of new challenges new, extended concrete "launch pad," new fuel regulations, new Goodyear tire and, finally, unseasonably hot weather Coil and co-crew chief Bernie Fedderly came up with a combination good enough to go from Point A to Point B in 4.923 seconds not spectacular, but sufficient to earn Force his 119th No. 1 qualifier bonus.
When cloud cover changed the racing dynamic Sunday morning, Coil ignored the temptation to apply more power. Instead, he just waited for the sun to come back out and, when it did, he and Fedderly simply went back to what they had learned in qualifying. It was enough to put Force in yet another winners' circle.
"I never get tired of winning," Force said. "That's what the sponsors pay us for. After all the success he's had, Coil still hates to lose. And so do I.
"You get motivated when you hear people saying that it looks like you can't do it anymore. Everybody looks at last year and the fact that I didn't win the championship and they say, 'he's past his prime.'
"They forget that Tony (Pedregon, the 2003 Champion) was driving one of my race cars. He got out fast in the points and because he had the best car, he got the most help. That's how you play the game. The car with the best chance to win the championship is going to get the best parts when there aren't enough to go around."
People also forget that while Force's 10-year reign as Funny Car Champion ended last season, he still managed to win three times and finish third in points. The irony is that 90 per cent of the racers on tour, regardless of classification, would have given up a limb for just that kind of season.