John Force is a legend in NHRA’s nitro Funny Car ranks.
And, the legend isn’t ready to go away.
Force proved that Friday at the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil in Houston.
Force went to the top of the qualifying ladder with his 3.888-second run at 319.29 mph.
“Houston has always had pretty good race tracks,” said Force, who pilots his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil / BlueDEF Chevy Camaro SS. “I won my 100th race there and the conditions were supposed to be warm, but we had cloud cover all day (Friday). (Tim) Wilkerson joked with me that he clicked it off a little early to give it to me, but he was right there too. We will see where it goes. I thought the 88 was impressive in a Funny Car, but that (3.)66 (by his daughter) Brittany was really impressive. That team with (crew chief) David Grubnic know what they are doing. My group with (crew chiefs) (Brian) Corradi and (Dan) Hood is having to put up with me.”
Wilkerson is No. 2 in qualifying at 3.895 seconds at 321.12 mph.
Force, a 16-time world champion, has 149 NHRA victories in his illustrious career and he has been No. 1 qualifier 155 times in his career.
“I joked coming in here and I called Austin Coil and I told him, that I need some help from the good Lord just to keep up with these kids,” Force said. “Maybe I have an Angel and he paved this race track. We need to give credit to the Angel family. Whatever they did down there, we used to have problems, definitely running these kinds of numbers and the money they invested for this track and NHRA was a good call.”
The elder Force took a moment to discuss what it was like leading his category and have Brittany lead Top Fuel.
“I have seen it before,” John said. “Of course, I’ve always raced Funny Cars and I know Brittany will be excited. I need to get out of here and let her get back up here. She’s a young girl in the sport and the fans they really like women and there’s a few out there who like grandpas. I’m hanging on here. We will see what happens. My ol’ Hot Rod does the running for me. I have no complaints.”
In Friday’s Q2, Force clocked a 3.958-second run at 316.45, He has had plenty of success in Houston.
In addition to SpringNationals victories in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2002, Force also won the now defunct fall race at Houston in 1999 giving him a record seven wins overall at the facility. His most recent win in 2002 was also his 100th career victory. He is trying to extend to 32 the number of seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA national event.
“We want to come back (Saturday) and see if we can do it again,” Force said. “We ran 95 and were right in the middle of the pack. You have to give it to (Tim) Wilkerson, a one-off team there, and I don’t know his budget, but lately he has been flying and he has a shot at the title the way he’s running. Of course, a bunch of them do and that’s the thing. I won a lot of races and a lot of them won with horsepower and not reaction times, Now, all these kids, they are all good and I’m pretty amazed and I’m having to really do my homework on getting everything right just to stay on their bumpers. I ain’t caught them yet, I have a ways to go. But, the better the car, the more confidence I get. “
Force arrived in Houston sixth in the season points standings.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019