John Force has a new dance partner. And he and new crew chief Brian Corradi are spinning around, showing off their fancy Funny Car moves now that they have mastered not stepping on each other’s toes.
They trust one another. They have worked to understand and care about each other. And they’re turning heads as they prepare to take the big bow onstage – not just at this weekend’s AAA Midwest Insurance Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis, but in November at the year-end awards ceremony in Hollywood.
And the way they’re gliding through the end of the regular season and the start of the Countdown, they just might be the stars at the grand ballroom.
Force – who earned his record-extending 150th victory at Seattle, his 151st two races later, and opened the Countdown with a final-round appearance at Reading, Pa. – put his Peak/Blue DEF Chevy Camaro at the top of the order Saturday.
He did so with a 3.842-second elapsed time and 334.40-mph speed on the 1,000-foot course at Madison, Ill.
“It’s been consistent all weekend, ‘Old Blue’ my PEAK BlueDEF Camaro. It ran a .99[-second E.T.] in the first session then ran a .91 and .91 again. I didn’t think it would step up and run better than an .85,” Force said.
“Corradi said, ‘Let’s just see what it’ll do. Brian Corradi is a different guy than an Austin Coil,” the top qualifier said of the tuner who guided him to the majority of his 16 series championships and remains a confidante today.
“We all come from different ways of life. Corradi and I, we go around about stuff, but he was really concerned about my race car, with hurting me, and that really mattered to me. He said that in a meeting we had a couple days ago and then again today. And so I found some heart in there, and that matters to me that way,” Force said. “He surrounds himself with a great team: my son-in-law Daniel Hood, Ashley’s husband, and Tim Fabrisi and all these young kids. They really want a shot at the top – and I want a shot, too. I’m the old kid in the family, but I’m starting to get my head right, racing with Corradi. And we just have to learn how to understand each other.”
He has found that Corradi knows what he’s talking about.
“Corradi said what it would do, and it did it,” Force said.
Matt Hagan stepped up and nudged John Force Racing’s Robert Hight from the top position in Saturday’s third overall qualifying session. That didn’t surprise Force, but his own performance did at least a little bit.
“I really thought Robert Hight or even Hagan might pull it out, because they had nothing to do but go for it,” Force said. “But we got it, got that No. 1. We come here with AAA Missouri and it’s very important that Robert or I or [Top Fuel drivers Austin] Prock or Brittany [Force] get it done. This PEAK team got it tonight. It was a good night for me, and hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
But Jack Beckman warned everyone at the last race – that Force doesn’t need any extra motivation to figure out how to storm from even out of nowhere to win races and championships.
Force will meet No. 16 qualifier Terry Haddock in the first round of eliminations Sunday.
The surprising bottom half of the Funny Car ladder starts with points leader and Reading winner Beckman and includes Countdown racers Shawn Langdon and Tim Wilkerson, as well as dangerous Blake Alexander and Cruz Pedregon.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019