Topeka Qualifying Review Funny Car

JOHN FORCE, 50, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the eight-time Winston Funny Car Champion and the current points leader. SEASON-TO-DATE: John has won eight of 17 races completed thus far this year but has...

JOHN FORCE, 50, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, is the eight-time Winston Funny Car Champion and the current points leader.

SEASON-TO-DATE: John has won eight of 17 races completed thus far this year but has been a first round loser in three of the last four races including the last two.

WINSTON SHOWDOWN: In addition to his eight regular season victories, John also won the Winston Showdown at Bristol, Tenn., a $200,000-to-win event which matched Funny Cars against Top Fuel dragsters.

CHASING THE RECORD: John presently is within striking distance of two of drag racing's most imposing records: 10 series championships and 85 event victories, both set by retired Ford Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden. He has 78 career wins and, if he holds on to his current points lead, at season's end, he will claim his ninth Winston Championship.

PREVIOUSLY AT TOPEKA: Of John's 78 career victories, five have come at Heartland Park-Topeka where he won three times in the now defunct spring race (1993, 1994 and 1996) and twice in the Advance Auto Parts Nationals (1996 and 1997).

VERSUS RON CAPPS: This is John's 15th meeting with first round foe Ron Capps. He enjoys an 11-4 advantage, having won both meetings this year (in the second round at Englishtown, N.J., and Denver, Colo.)

NATIONAL RECORDS: John is the official NHRA national record holder for both Funny Car time (4.788 seconds) and speed (324.05 miles per hour).

DID YOU KNOW: John has qualified for 224 consecutive races. The last time he failed to qualify for an NHRA national event was Nov. 1, 1987 when he didn't make the 16-car lineup for the season-ending Winston Finals at Pomona, Calif.....John is the only drag racer to have won the Driver of the Year Award for all of American motor racing (1996)....both John's track record (4.889 seconds) and event record (4.892) were bettered in qualifying by Whit Bazemore.....although he can't mathematically clinch his ninth Winston Championship this weekend, John is in a position to realistically claim the title should he reach the finals for the ninth time in 16 appearances at the Kansas track.....Nearest GM pursuer Whit Bazemore must win the last five races and Force must lose in the first round in four of the five events (and not survive to the quarerfinals in the other) to even have a shot at the title.

TONY PEDREGON, 34, Chino Hills, Calif., was denied the pole in the final qualifying session when Whit Bazemore was clocked in a track record 4.885 seconds, nudging the Castrol SYNTEC Ford to second place by .009 of a second. Tony has won a career high three races already this year and been runner-up in three others not including the Big Bud Shootout in which he was runner-up for the second tim in three years. Of Tony's eight career wins, only one (the 1996 Winston Finals at Pomona, Calif.) came from the No. 2 starting spot.

SEASON TO DATE: Tony has reached the finals six times in 17 races this year, winning at Pomona, Calif., Dallas, Texas, where he claimed a $100,000 No Bull bonus at the Castrol Nationals, and Denver, Colo. That has propelled him into second place in the Winston Series standings behind John Force.

CAREER RECORD: Tony has eight victories in 20 career final round appearances. He has gone to the finals 20 times in 90 starts for Team Castrol and John Force Racing.

VERSUS BOB GILBERTSON: Due to mechanical problems that forced first round foe Bob Gilbertson out of competition, John will get a free pass to the quarterfinals where he will meet the winner of the WWF round -- Jim Epler and Jerry Toliver.

QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile in Funny Car history at 4.779 seconds, a mark he set last March in the first round of the MAC Tools Gatornationals.

DID YOU KNOW? Tony was the initial winner (1996) of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (and the $10,000 cash bonus that accompanies it)....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than John Force to have broken 4.80 seconds and exceeded 320 mph....Tony and John are on opposite sides of the Funny Car ladder and, as a result, would not meet until the final round if both advance.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Bob Glidden , Jerry Toliver