16-time champion John Force heads to St. Louis seeking victory for PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil team
MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 27) – John Force made it clear Sunday after the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., that the most important thing for him is to see his entire operation do well. For the most part, he likes what he saw at Reading.
His daughters, Brittany and Courtney Force, each made finals appearances at Reading, with Brittany Force winning in the Top Fuel category and Courtney Force finishing runner-up in Funny Car. Brittany Force moved to third place in Top Fuel points, only one point out of second and 23 points behind points leader Steve Torrence, while Courtney Force remained third, only eight points out of second and 39 points – less than two rounds – behind Funny Car points leader Ron Capps.
Meanwhile, teammate Robert Hight is second in the Funny Car standings, having earned his sixth No. 1 qualifying effort at Reading and another 10 bonus points.
And there’s reason to believe John Force will be happy with all four cars as the series shifts to the Midwest for the next race at Gateway Motorsports Park. Force is eighth in Funny Car points heading into this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the third and halfway point of the annual Countdown to the Championship for competitors in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Force got a boost Monday that has him and his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team optimistic about getting back in the hunt for a championship. Force – eliminated in the first round of the NHRA Nationals – had a best run of the weekend at 3.978 seconds at 324.12 mph, in qualifying, netting him the No. 13 qualifying position.
During a test Monday at Reading, in similar weather and track conditions found throughout the three-day Reading event, a few tweaks and changes to the car resulted in a solid pass of 3.885 seconds at 325.77 mph, which would have given him a No. 4 qualifying position. That the team found almost a tenth of a second gives Force belief he can still contend for his 17th championship.
John Force has tasted success at Gateway. He has three of the team’s six Funny Car victories and has two No. 1s. His last win came in 2013, en route to his 16th and most recent championship.
Two qualifying sessions for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m. Central on Friday, with two more sessions at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Elimination rounds are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will carry one hour of live television coverage of Friday’s first qualifying session, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern. FS1’s coverage of Saturday’s sessions is scheduled for 1 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. Three hours of live elimination-round coverage begins at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
John Force has competed in 19 races at Gateway Motorsports Park, and every race the track has hosted the series since 1997 (no race held in 2011).
Force has three victories at Gateway (1999, 2002 and 2013). Overall, he has six finals appearances.
Force is 35-16 in 51 elimination-round races at Gateway (.686).
Force has two No. 1s at Gateway (2010 and 2013). He has won once from No. 1 (2013).
Of the 19 races for which Force has competed at St. Louis, he has qualified in the top half of the bracket 16 times (exceptions were 2003, 2005 and 2016).
Force is 16-3 in 19 first-round elimination matchups at Gateway (exceptions were 1998, 2005 and 2012). He has won his last four first-round matchups.
Force enters the Countdown to the Championship eighth in Funny Car points standings.
In 2017, Force has one victory, an 18-19 record in 37 elimination rounds, and one No. 1.
In his career, Force has 148 victories and 1,281 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 Gateway – 3.958 seconds (2016 Q3/E1); 327.43 mph (2016 E1)
Best career time/speed – 3.832 seconds (2017 Gainesville Q2); 337.16 mph (2017 Sonoma Q4)