Heading to Las Vegas, PEAK driver John Force hopes music will continue, dice stay hot

Heading to Las Vegas, PEAK driver John Force
hopes music will continue, dice stay hot

LAS VEGAS (March 28) – Lady luck please let the dice stay hot. That’s one of the lyrics Elvis Presley sung in his 1963 hit Viva Las Vegas.

As he heads to America’s entertainment capital this weekend, John Force is hoping the same holds true – stay hot and add to his winning streak. The most recent winner on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series calendar in the Funny Car class, Force seeks a second consecutive victory in Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us this weekend,” Force said. “One, you got to qualify. Two, you got to race. Three, got a test on Monday. And we look forward to all those things. But it will be great. We look forward to the fans there; they’re great. And who doesn’t love Las Vegas?”

A melodious theme has emerged as Force said recently he’s found the proverbial music – one which he said helped carry him and his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team to victory March 19 at Gainesville Raceway in Florida.

After reuniting with longtime crew chief Mike Neff, co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch and their team, the squad earned the No. 1 qualifying spot for the first time in over a year-and-a-half. Consistent, quick passes during the elimination rounds propelled Force into the winner’s circle for a record 148th time.

The decision to switch teams with teammate Robert Hight just a week before Gainesville was, in a sense, a roll of the dice, and it paid off.

“I got all wound up and crazy because I won,” said Force, now second in the points standings behind Matt Hagan. “I never thought it would come together so quickly; I thought it was going to take time. But Neff and Jimmy Prock – they’re unbelievable. We got the win, and the rest is history.”

Now, it’s off to Vegas, where the focus won’t necessarily be on the flashy, neon lights on the famous Las Vegas Strip, but more so on the LED lights of the Christmas Tree at the 1,000-foot drag strip. And it’s a place where Force seeks a lucky No. 7. He already has a series-high six Funny Car victories at The Strip, including two wins in the spring race, most recently 2015, in which he defeated Hight in an all-John Force Racing final.

Additionally, the last time competitors tackled The Strip in October, it was Force in Funny Cars, winning for the 147th time by besting daughter Courtney Force in another all-JFR showdown. Force set the track speed record – 331.94 mph – during the event as well.

“I’ve had a lot of big wins there,” Force said. “We’re hearing the music, and excited to be back. We won the race last year in the Countdown. All of John Force’s cars are hearing the music. Viva Las Vegas.”

All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel, Presley also sang in Viva Las Vegas. The same holds true this and every weekend on the NHRA circuit, and at the end of Sunday, Force hopes both carry him to another victory. But if the music and singing that came after Gainesville return, it might just stay in his head.

“I won’t sing anymore, I promise,” Force said.

The NHRA Nationals begins Friday, with the first two rounds of qualifying, followed by two more rounds of qualifying Saturday. Elimination rounds Sunday will be televised starting at 6 p.m. Eastern.

4-Second Reads:

John Force has competed in the spring race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 15 times, and every year since 2009.
Force has advanced to the final round of the Las Vegas spring event twice, winning both times (2010, 2015).
Force swept the Las Vegas races in 2010 and has six overall race victories at the track.
Force won the most recent NHRA Funny Car race at Las Vegas, besting daughter Courtney Force in last October’s race.
Force has a record of 18-13 in elimination rounds in the Las Vegas spring event, and 44-24 in elimination rounds at the track.
Force has qualified No. 1 in the Las Vegas spring race twice (2002, 2011). Overall, he has three No. 1 qualifying positions at Las Vegas.
Force is 10-5 in first-round Las Vegas spring race matchups.
In his career, Force has 148 victories, 1,269 round wins, and 155 No. 1 qualifying spots, all records.
Force is currently second in the Funny Car points standings, up three spots from fifth from the previous race.
Force’s best time/speed at Las Vegas – 3.876 seconds (2016 No. 2 Q2); 331.94 mph (2016 No. 2 Q2; track record)
Force’s best time/speed of career – 3.832 seconds (2017 Gainesville); 335.15 mph (2017 Pomona 1)
Crew member Adam Haney celebrates his birthday on Wednesday, March 29. Crew member Kenny Carson celebrates his birthday on Saturday, April 1.
Force, along with daughters Brittany and Courtney Force, will attend the NHRA FanFest autograph session Thursday evening at the New York New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The FanFest is located on the Brooklyn Bridge Plaza.