Defending Vegas fall race winner John Force
hopes to deliver second straight victory
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 24) – Sixteen-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force is confident he can compete for a second consecutive victory in the NHRA Nationals this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Force, who has four victories in the fall race at Las Vegas and six overall, won the fall race last year by defeating daughter Courtney Force in the finals. He showed strong in this year’s spring race as well, making it to the semifinals in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“It’s a great race track,” said Force, who holds the track speed record for a Funny Car at 331.94 mph, set in qualifying in last year’s Fall race. “Bruton Smith built a great place to race. And who doesn’t like Las Vegas? Locking up a championship in Vegas is really exciting. I don’t believe it will get done there in any category; I think it will take until Pomona. We’re going to come in with 100 percent focus; our teams will stand tall.”
With the 2017 season entering its final stages, Vegas would be the perfect place for Force to show up in winner’s circle. He last won in March in the Gatornationals at Gainesville, also the site of his only No. 1 qualifying effort of the year.
He sits sixth in the championship, with Vegas and the season-ending Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., the last two races of the year. That means there’s still plenty of time to move up in the points standings, and mathematically Force still has a chance for a 17th title.
But he isn’t the only John Force Racing driver hoping for a strong performance this weekend. As the team owner, two of his other cars could leave Vegas close to or with the championship lead. Robert Hight, in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, is second in points, while Courtney Force, driving the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, is third in the standings. Force’s other daughter, Brittany Force, is second in Top Fuel in the Monster Energy dragster.
“With two races left in the Countdown, I’ve got some cars in the hunt – Robert second, Courtney right behind him, and I still have a shot in Funny Car, and Brittany and Monster Energy have a shot in Top Fuel, so we’re coming into Vegas positioned well,” Force said. “What will be will be. It won’t be for a lack of money, lack of heart, or lack of work ethic.
“We’ve turned the corner at John Force Racing, with Robert holding both ends of the national records, Courtney’s got one of the fastest cars on the circuit, and John Force Racing is overdue for a championship. We’re going to try to get it done.”
The NHRA Nationals begins with a pair of qualifying sessions at 2:30 and 5 p.m. Pacific on Friday, and two sessions at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Elimination rounds begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will provide live television coverage of Friday’s qualifying starting at 6 p.m. Eastern, with Saturday’s qualifying scheduled for a one-hour show at 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. Elimination rounds will be shown live starting at 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
John Force has competed in 33 races at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and qualified for all but two races. He has qualified for every Las Vegas race since the 2008 Fall race. The 2008 Spring race was the last race Force has failed to qualify for on the NHRA circuit.
Force has six victories at Las Vegas – four in the Fall race and two in the Spring race. The defending race winner, Force won the Fall race in 2002, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Overall, he has competed in eight final rounds at Las Vegas.
Force is 46-25 in 71 elimination rounds at Las Vegas (.648), and 26-11 in 37 rounds in the Fall race (.703).
Force has three No. 1s at Las Vegas (2002 Spring; 2011 Spring; 2013 Fall). He went on to win the 2013 race from the No. 1 position, en route to his 16th Funny Car title.
Of the 31 races for which Force has qualified at Las Vegas, he has qualified in the top half of the bracket 23 times.
Force is 20-11 in 31 first-round elimination matchups at Las Vegas. His longest streak was six, between the 2008 Fall race and 2011 Spring race. He has won his last three first-round matchups at Vegas.
Force entered the Countdown to the Championship eighth in Funny Car points standings, and is currently sixth, only 17 points – less than one elimination round – out of fifth.
In 2017, Force has one victory, a 21-21 record in 42 elimination rounds, and one No. 1.
Force has faced 18 different drivers this season in elimination rounds and has at least one win against 13 of them. He has a season-high four elimination-round wins over Del Worsham.
In his career, Force has 148 victories and 1,284 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 Las Vegas – 3.876 seconds (2016 #2 Q2); 331.94 mph (2016 #2 Q2)
Best career time/speed – 3.832 seconds (2017 Gainesville Q2/2017 St. Louis Q2); 337.16 mph (2017 Sonoma Q4)
Force will be signing autographs at the NHRA Fanfest from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fremont Street Experience on the Third Street Stage.
Jon Schaeffer, co-crew chief on the car, is celebrating his birthday Wednesday, October 25.