John Force’s chances to win an unprecedented 17th nitro Funny Car world championship are still alive and well.
The legend set the pace in qualifying at the NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex Friday with a 3.834-second pass at 337.33 mph for a career-best speed and captured the provisional No. 1 spot at the track in Ennis near Dallas.
Force entered the Dallas event second in the points – 19 points behind first-place Jack Beckman. Following Dallas, the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Series concludes with races in Las Vegas (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) and at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 14-17).
Force is driving the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil / BlueDEF Chevrolet Camaro SS this weekend. He picked up six bonus from Friday’s two qualifying sessions.
“Well, I’m driving the BlueDEF Chevrolet Camaro with Old World Industries this weekend and it’s a fast car,” Force said. “Brian Corradi, Danny Hood, my son-in-law, and Tim Fabrisi, I call them Corradi’s Kids, they’re really good and they’ve been stranded with me, and that’s kind of painful, but I had said to Corradi this morning that we have three to go and we can’t go up there and just put her in the show, we’ve got to do more than that.
“Then, this afternoon, we went out there and ran an .87 and then Robert [Hight] ran an .85 in that last one with AAA Texas and I thought that was that. I didn’t know if it would do it again, but we stepped it up. This PEAK BlueDEF team has given me a great race car so I’m excited about that and we got the low qualifier, that’s more than just getting in the show.”
If Force holds onto the No. 1 spot it would be the 160th top qualifying effort of his career and fourth this season.
During the media interview, Force, 70, didn’t realize he clocked the fastest mph in his illustrious career.
“What was it?” Force asked, and when the NHRA interviewer told him it was 337.33 mph, he said, “Oh, that will make NHRA mad. They want us to slow down. But, I got lost down there and I got over and Billy (Meyer) (the Texas Motorplex owner) asked if the lighting was good because he spent a lot of money on this. I said it is to me. I wear night glasses, but I had a lot of vibration in the car and told Corradi about it and because I lost vision. It got on over near the wall and that woke me up. I saw the wall. I only needed a few feet to make it and I might have driven it too far. I don’t drive for speed records, you know what I mean, not at my age. I had a fastest enough flight out of here in a helicopter and I don’t want to do that anymore.
“I thank Billy Meyer for everything. He came when he was a kid. I was older than him and I was driving a truck and he looked like he was 15, but he said he was 16 or 17. He lived with my aunt and my cousins. His dad was a big money guy in Texas. We got to know Billy and he was fun. He harassed (Don) Prudhomme on a regular basis. Then there were the fun days with Raymond Beadle.”
Then, Force stopped to reflect on the present.
“The fun days are now,” he said. “Because my kid, Brittany says these are the fun days and she loves being here and I love being here. I have to give credit to my guys. They make it happen and I hang on and they have to put up with me putting out top bulbs and deep staging. It’s the only way I can beat the kids. They all know it and I love racing them. They like me, but it is aggravating sometimes the way I drive because they don’t know what I’m thinking, but I tell them, I don’t know what I’m thinking either. I go up there and my mood just completely changes. We are all having fun. We’re all a big family. Am I excited? You bet, but you want me to stand here and brag about it? I have done everything you can do except die and that’s coming any day, but I sure don’t want to die in a race car.
“I’m just having a ball at 70 and I look at all these young kids and seeing them and all the life I lived 100 years ago.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) October 19, 2019