PEAK’s John Force reels off second-fastest Funny Car speed, qualifies No. 2 for Winternationals at Pomona

PEAK’s John Force reels off second-fastest Funny Car speed, qualifies No. 2 for Winternationals at Pomona

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 11) – A day after securing a lifetime sponsorship with PEAK/Old World Industries, John Force’s career-best speed peaked during Funny Car qualifying.

And with that solid run during Saturday’s third-round qualifying session, Force grabbed the No. 2 starting spot for Sunday’s 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the opening round of the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Force pushed the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS to an astonishing 335.15 mph in a third-round qualifying effort, a run that tied him with daughter Courtney Force with the second-quickest time overall (3.849 seconds) and the quickest of the third qualifying session.

John Force’s speed was just off the all-time best, set by Matt Hagan at 335.57 mph at Heartland Park Topeka in 2016 (and subsequently tied by Hagan in Saturday’s final session).

Force will line up against Phil Burkart Jr. in the first round. It marks the first time the two will race against each other since 2007, when Force won at Reading, Pa., to move to 10-9 against his former driver and JFR teammate.

“We really only got one run here, but when it did hit a lick, it ran well,” Force said. “We ran a big speed, which really impressed me, because I didn’t mean to drive it that far. It was trucking, and it got there quicker than I thought. Overall, we’re doing well at JFR, and this year it looks like we can do some damage.”

Force seeks his eighth Winternationals victory Sunday and 16th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car victory at his hometown track.

“(Sunday) is a whole new ballgame,” he said. “The weather is going to be good, so we’ll see where it goes. I want to win, but so does everyone else out there. They all want to win, so we wish them all luck, and go out and do what we do, which is step on the gas.”

Two of Force’s other drivers, Courtney Force and Robert Hight, also had strong showings and will be in the top half of Sunday’s first-round matchups. Courtney Force, in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, is No. 3, while Hight is No. 5 in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS.

Elimination rounds for Funny Car are scheduled to start 11 a.m. Sunday, with Top Fuel immediately following. The Winternationals will be televised live on FOX starting at 4 p.m. Eastern.