John Force knows that the time to pounce is now. Will the Funny Car legend grab another championship trophy at Pomona next month? That’s not likely. But, he’s hoping he can capitalize on some new found speed and end the season on a high note.
Force, is looking to win again in this weekend’s AAA Texas FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, a track at which Force has triumphed seven times, the most of any driver in a NHRA’s professional classes. He also has 11 No. 1 qualifiers, 15 finals appearances and 71 elimination-round victories – the fourth most of any track in his career – in Dallas.
But, his eighth win in Texas would be huge for him because it’s a place where he hasn’t won since the frightening crash.
“We love Texas,” Force said. “I want to come back and win in Dallas – haven’t won there since my crash – so looking forward to winning there ago. It’s a great race track. Billy Meyer is one of the best promoters in the industry, and one of my old PR guys, Elon Werner, is out there helping to promote the race as well.”
The newly found confidence is coming from a recent test at Maple Grove in late September.
Force had lost three consecutive first-round elimination races before the team opted to test a day after the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove. He posted two strong test runs before the team packed up and headed to the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship, which decides champions in NHRA’s professional categories.
At Gateway, Force made quick run after quick run in qualifying, tying his career-best 3.832-second elapsed time, and setting two of his six career best speeds – both over 334 mph. That momentum carried over to race day, when he made it to the semifinals, where he led much of that race only to lift when he drifted toward the wall at top end.
Force’s semifinals run at Gateway moved him to sixth in the standings. With the season coming to a close in three races, Force needs to do more than just go rounds – he needs more runs like he had in his Maple Grove test and Gateway race, and to win races.
“We’re halfway through the Countdown, and we need to do some damage,” Force said. “I thought we had it at St. Louis, but that’s not going to do. (Points leader) Ron Capps is doing his job, but we’re coming with guns blazing.”