Sonoma: John Force Racing final summary

Force Extends Lead Despite Final Round Loss John Force entered the Western Swing protecting a narrow three-point lead in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings. After earning runner-up honors in the 17th annual Fram/Autolite Nationals at...

Force Extends Lead Despite Final Round Loss

John Force entered the Western Swing protecting a narrow three-point lead in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings. After earning runner-up honors in the 17th annual Fram/Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceay, he ended the three-race marathon 146 points ahead of second place Whit Bazemore.

Force, drag racing's biggest winner with 112 career victories and 12 series championships, looked like a shoo-in for his seventh win at Infineon when he drove the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford through the quarter mile timers in 4.857 seconds at the event's best speed of 322.42 mph to beat Gary Scelzi in the semifinals.

However, in the final round against veteran Tim Wilkerson, the 11-time Auto Racing All-America selection briefly lost concentration. The result was a foul start, just his second in 175 final round appearances.

"Driver error, pure and simple" Force said. "I wish I could blame it on someone, but we'll just take the whipping and move on. The good guys like Wilkerson are the toughest for me to get up for. I tried to amp myself up, to get ready mentally, and I just screwed it up. My guys gave me the best car and I delivered a runner-up. That's not what they're paying me for. But I'll slap myself for a couple of days and then get ready for Brainerd (Minn., next stop in the 23-race POWERade Series)."

The other two Team Castrol drivers, Eric Medlen and Gary Densham, exited in round two but both maintained their positions in the point standings.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: First at 4.823 seconds, 318.84 mph.

Race results: Beat Bob Bode, Gary Densham, Gary Scelzi

Notable: Extended to 338 the number of consecutive events for which he has qualified a Castrol Funny Car and earned his 120th career No. 1 qualifying award.

Quotable: "We've got a good lead, but not a safe lead. We need to stay on top of it. We need to go to Brainerd on our game and I'm sure we will. " - JOHN FORCE.

ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.914 seconds, 310.63 mph.

Race results: Beat Jeff Arend; lost to Tony Pedregon.

Notable: Held on to fifth place in points and in position to move up as the tour moves to Brainerd, Minn., Memphis and Indianapolis.

Quotable: "That's not really what we wanted to do, but the big thing is that we held our position and John got the GTX Start Up car to another final round.." - ERIC MEDLEN.

GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.919 seconds, 315.05 mph.

Race results: Beat Phil Burkart Jr.; lost to John Force.

Notable: Posted quick time of the meet (4.821 seconds) and held on to the No. 6 position in points.

Quotable: "I'm disappointed, obviously, because we had a fast car, but now we're going to a track where we won last year - so I'm excited." - GARY DENSHAM.

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , Phil Burkart , Bob Bode , Jeff Arend , Eric Medlen