Sixth in Funny Car points, John Force looks to move up at Dallas
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 11) – It took a pair of runs during a test in late September at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., to get John Force and his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team back on track.
Force had lost three consecutive first-round elimination races before the team opted to test a day after the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove. He posted two strong test runs before the team packed up and headed to the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship, which decides champions in NHRA’s professional categories.
At Gateway, Force made quick run after quick run in qualifying, tying his career-best 3.832-second elapsed time, and setting two of his six career best speeds – both over 334 mph. That momentum carried over to race day, when he made it to the semifinals, where he led much of that race only to lift when he drifted toward the wall at top end.
Still, it showed the 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion still has enough to push for a record-extending 17th title. That push continues this weekend with the AAA Texas FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, a track at which Force has triumphed seven times, the most of any driver in a NHRA’s professional classes.
Force also has 11 No. 1 qualifiers, 15 finals appearances and 71 elimination-round victories – the fourth most of any track in his career – in Dallas.
“We love Texas,” Force said. “I want to come back and win in Dallas – haven’t won there since my crash – so looking forward to winning there ago. It’s a great race track. Billy Meyer is one of the best promoters in the industry, and one of my old PR guys, Elon Werner, is out there helping to promote the race as well.”
Force’s semifinals run at Gateway moved him to sixth in the standings. With the season coming to a close in three races, Force needs to do more than just go rounds – he needs more runs like he had in his Maple Grove test and Gateway race, and to win races.
“We’re halfway through the Countdown, and we need to do some damage,” Force said. “I thought we had it at St. Louis, but that’s not going to do. (Points leader) Ron Capps is doing his job, but we’re coming with guns blazing.”
Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Central) and Saturday (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.), with eliminations slated for 11 a.m. Central on Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will televise one hour of live qualifying on Friday at 5 p.m. Central, one hour of coverage at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and three hours of live qualifying at 1 p.m. Central on Sunday.
• John Force has competed in 34 races at Texas Motorplex, and qualified for every race the track has hosted since 1986 (no race in 1988; two races each in 1999 and 2000).
• Force has an NHRA-record seven victories at Texas Motorplex, the most of any category. His wins came in 1993, 1998, 1999 (Fall), 2000 (twice), 2003 and 2005. Overall, he has competed in 15 final rounds.
• Force is 71-27 in 98 elimination-round races at Texas Motorplex (.724). His 71 wins are the fourth most of any track at which he has visited. His 98 elimination rounds are tied for second among all track; he has also competed in 98 rounds at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas. The only track at which he has competed more than 100 times is Auto Club Speedway at Pomona, with 180 rounds.
• Force has 11 No. 1s at Texas Motorplex (1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 [twice], 2000 [twice], 2003 and 2004).
• Of the 34 races for which Force has competed at Dallas, he has qualified in the top half of the bracket 31 times (exceptions were 1989, 2012 and 2013).
• Force is 28-6 in 34 first-round elimination matchups at Texas Motorplex. He won 21 consecutive first-round matchups at the track between 1989 and 2005.
• Force entered the Countdown to the Championship eighth in Funny Car points standings, and is currently sixth.
• In 2017, Force has one victory, a 20-20 record in 40 elimination rounds, and one No. 1.
• In his career, Force has 148 victories and 1,283 elimination-round wins, both records. He has 155 No. 1 qualifying spots, of which 60 have resulted in victories, also both records.
• Most recent NHRA victory – 2017 NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
• Most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
• Best time/speed at Texas Motorplex – 3.867 seconds (2016 Q3); 330.39 mph (2016 Q3)
• Best career time/speed – 3.832 seconds (2017 Gainesville Q2/2017 St. Louis Q2); 337.16 mph (2017 Sonoma Q4)