PEAK Chevrolet driver John Force corrals 155th career
No. 1 ahead of Sunday’s Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 18) – The last time John Force qualified No. 1 for the NHRA Gatornationals, he drove his Funny Car all the way to the 2006 final round.
And the most recent time Force earned the No. 1 spot for any event, he took his hot rod to the finals of the 2015 Mile-High Nationals in Denver.
Now, the Yorba Linda, Calif., driver, chasing his 17th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship, seeks to continue both trends heading into Sunday’s 48th NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Force, in the PEAK Motor Oil and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, garnered the top spot in Friday’s second round with a run of 3.832 seconds at 333.25 mph, and held it through two rounds of qualifying Saturday to earn the record-extending 155th No. 1 of his illustrious career.
Both time and speed are Gainesville bests, while the 3.832-second time is a career best.
“It’s exciting to come to Gainesville,” said Force, who now has seven No. 1s at Gainesville. “I haven’t run this good in years. We kept low ET, that’s an honor, I love it. It’s a good weekend for us; the team gelled. I want to thank my guys back in Brownsburg (Indiana shop). They really did the job this week to give us race cars in time to run Gainesville.”
Force and several members of his teams and leadership made the decision last week to swap crews with Robert Hight’s team, giving Force the opportunity to work with crew chief Mike Neff and co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch again. Together, Force and Neff won the 2010 Funny Car title. The decision has already paid dividends – Force made three solid passes in the 3.8-second range this weekend. Those efforts netted him eight bonus points.
Force will face No. 16 Del Worsham in Sunday’s opening round. Force has a 53-29 career mark against Worsham, including a 3-3 record last season. It showcases a rematch from last year’s Gatornationals, which Force won, also in a first-round matchup. But it’s not so much who he’s facing next, Force said. It’s all about going from point A to point B.
“I want to come out here tomorrow and I want to try to win,” Force said. “Don’t know who I race, don’t matter, I race my lane. I go A to B. But I’m really excited just to be in the hunt.
“I don’t want them in my head,” Force said of his competitors. “I want to go up there and race, whether I race my daughter (Courtney Force), Robert Hight or ‘The Hulk’ (Matt) Hagan or Ron Capps, the champ.”
Now, Force’s mind is taking a new car to winner’s circle and winning his eighth Gatornationals and first since 2001.
“I wanted to do good today with this new car,” Force said. “So, I’m going to be around awhile.”