64-year-old John Force seems to get better with age: last season, he picked up his 16th NHRA Funny Car championship. This year, he continued his winning ways with a dominating win at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in California, setting both ends of the national record (3.965 seconds and 324.12 mph) and emerging with a 50-point lead over runner-up Matt Hagan.
“You take a 64 year-old-man and put him in a fire suit, you are Superman, but I am back in the game and we are excited,” said Force. “My ol’ Hot Rod, she’s fast and I love it, and it’s going to help me keep my job because that’s all I’m trying to do, whatever it takes.”
Force is the winningest driver at the next track on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird International Raceway) in Chandler, Arizona. The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals take place February 21st through 23rd; Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) are the defending race winners.
Force has made appearances in the last six final rounds, dating back to the second race of the Countdown to the Championship last season, and has won four of them. His turn-around last season came when he switched tuners with Robert Hight mid-season and began working with Jimmy Prock.
“It's amazing,” Force said. “We're trying to build our sport and run good for all of the fans, and it's hard sometimes. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock and that whole brain trust have done a great job. Everything's just going right. I don't get it. I ain't that good of a guy. I'm just excited. There’s a lot going on (with sponsors), and man, what a good time to flex your muscles.”
After long-time sponsors Ford and Castrol announced they were leaving John Force Racing following the 2014 season, Force set out to bring new sponsors into the JFR fold - winning races and titles will help in his quest.
“I need to focus on this car,” Force said. “This is a critical year. This is about somebody putting a value on me. No matter how much they love you or what you have done, none of that counts. It is about where it’s going. This ol’ race car will do the running and all I have to do is stay in that gym and stay healthy.”
Qualifying for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals begins Friday, February 21st with sessions at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. MT and continues Saturday, February 22nd at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. MT. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, February 23rd. Tickets are now available at www.nhratix.com.
Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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