Topeka: John Force Racing eliminations summary

PEDREGON WINS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR AT TOPEKA Highlights: Tony Pedregon drove the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang to victory for the third straight year at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, becoming the first Funny Car driver this season to win from...

PEDREGON WINS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR AT TOPEKA

Highlights: Tony Pedregon drove the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang to victory for the third straight year at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, becoming the first Funny Car driver this season to win from the No. 1 qualifying position.

In winning for the fifth time this season and for the 24th time in his career, Pedregon beat Whit Bazemore and the Schumacher Racing Dodge in the final round to extend his lead to 94 points in the race for the 2003 POWERade Championship.

After setting a Heartland Park-Topeka track record in qualifying at 4.734 seconds, Pedregon beat Dale Creasy Jr., Gary Scelzi, older brother Cruz Pedregon and Bazemore for his eighth win in the last 15 races dating back to September, 2002.

The final round victory represented a 40-point swing for Pedregon who would have led by only 54 points if the finish had been reversed.

Pedregon's victory provided an emotional lift to team owner John Force who, for the second straight event was victimized by a foul start, this one against Castrol teammate Gary Densham in round two.

Force, struggling this season after winning 10 consecutive series championships, posted the quickest time during eliminations in round one when he was clocked in 4.792 seconds in beating Dean Skuza.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

OHN FORCE , Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.800 seconds, 321.50 mph.
Race results: Beat Dean Skuza; lost to Gary Densham.
Notable: Fouled out for the second consecutive race.

Quotable: "Very simple, driver error. I've changed my (starting line) routine and I'm not doing it by automatic reaction. I can't stage deep (because of the new lights in the starting system). I have to think about all that and I never used to have to think. I just did it."

TONY PEDREGON , Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.743 seconds, 320.51 mph.
Race results: Beat Dale Creasy Jr., Gary Scelzi, Cruz Pedregon and Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Won for the third straight year at Heartland Park-Topeka and extended his lead over second place Whit Bazemore in the POWERade points race.

Quotable: "Good day at the office. John Medlen and Dickie Venables continue to make the right adjustments every round. It's good to get a little cushion, but the points race isn't over. We just have to stay focused."

GARY DENSHAM , Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car:
Qualifying position and performance: 10th at 4.852 seconds, 317.42 mph.
Race results: Beat Del Worsham, John Force, Whit Bazemore
Notable: Moved up to third place in season points with best performance in the last four races.

Quotable: "I feel bad that we couldn't take Bazemore out for Tony, but it looks our hot rod is coming around."

Next events: Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., May 30-June 1; Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 13-15; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill., June 27-29; Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Denver, Colo., July 18-20; Carquest Nationals, Seattle, Wash., July 25-27.

-jfr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , John Medlen