Can PEAK Chevrolet driver John Force snap Houston dry spell?
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 18) – The record book shows that PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS driver John Force has the most professional victories of any driver at Royal Purple Raceway, site of this weekend’s NHRA SpringNationals.
Force has seven victories at Houston, including six at the spring race here. His last win, though, came in 2002, en route to the Funny Car championship
Force had a similar dry spell at the Gatornationals – a race he hadn’t won since 2001 – until he went to the winner’s circle in Gainesville, Fla., last month.
Can he find similar magic in Houston? One thing is certain, Force “found the music” with his Gainesville victory, performing “Singin’ in the Rain” after procuring the 148th victory of his brilliant career.
“I found the music,” Force said. “I found the music, and that’s a big mistake. They never should have let me. My ’54 Chevy back in 1965, I rode the streets of Bell Gardens (Calif.) listening to the Beach Boys and Waylon Jennings. I always had the music, and I found it. Now, they’re going to be in trouble because I don’t plan on losing it. We can race for the fans and the sponsors and give them a show."
Force made a crew swap within his John Force Racing team, moving crew chief Mike Neff and co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch from Robert Hight’s team to his PEAK Chevy team. Crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Chris Cunningham went from Force’s team to Hight’s Auto Club Chevrolet.
The move paid immediate dividends, as Force won in Gainesville, while Hight set career bests in elapsed time and speed there.
“We just keep chasing it,” Force said. “We’re trying to win races, trying to win championships. There’s a lot of work going down, a lot of work for our guys in Brownsburg who build the cars and the engines. We’re going to try to run for the NHRA Mello Yello championship. It’s tough. We haven’t won a championship in a few years, and we want to get back on track.”
In addition to his seven victories, Force has 10 No. 1 qualifiers at Houston – including nine in this event.
“We’re excited to bring the PEAK Chevrolet to Houston,” Force said. “Won a lot of races there, and I’m always excited to bring the PEAK Chevrolet there. To come back to Auto Club country in Texas is big for us, too.
“We’re still watching the weather. It’s a great race track to make record runs when the conditions are right, and our race cars are moving in that direction. We know you can run big numbers on that race track in Houston.”
Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Central) and Saturday (2 and 4:30), with final eliminations slated for Sunday at 11 a.m
Fox Sports 1 will broadcast three hours of eliminations starting at 5 p.m. Sunday.
John Force has competed in 29 of the 30 NHRA SpringNationals races at Houston, and every year since 2008. He did not compete in the 2007 race.
Force has advanced to the final round of the NHRA SpringNationals eight times, winning six (1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002). His last finals appearance at Houston was 2002.
Force has a record of 48-22 in elimination rounds in the NHRA SpringNationals.
Force has qualified No. 1 in the NHRA SpringNationals nine times (most recently in 2011). Of those nine, he’s gone on to win the race four times.
Force is 23-6 in first-round NHRA SpringNationals race matchups.
In his career, Force has 148 victories, 1,271 round wins, and 155 No. 1 qualifying spots, all records.
Force is currently third in the Funny Car points standings, down one spot from second from the previous race.
Force’s best time/speed at Houston – 4.005 seconds (2016 Q1); 322.11 mph (2016 Q1)
Force’s best time/speed of career – 3.832 seconds (2017 Gainesville); 335.15 mph (2017 Pomona 1)