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AUG 3, 2014 | SEATTLE

Force Drives Mustang to Victory in Seattle

JohnForce_Seattle

(Ford Racing Correspondent)

John Force’s “I ain’t dead yet” mantra resonated throughout the Pacific Raceways complex Sunday as the 65-year-old completed an unusual Ford Racing sweep of the Western Swing by beating former teammate Gary Densham in the final round of the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals.

After qualifying No. 1 for the 150th time in his storied career, the 16-time and reigning NHRA Funny Car champion chopped down Jeff Diehl, Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria to reach his record 232nd final round, his fourth in succession.

It was an overpowering performance by the Hall of Fame owner/driver although it wasn’t without its moments. In fact, Force had to summon all his driving skills to get around DeJoria in a tractionless semifinal.  Force’s Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford got to the finish line first even though it arrived there with a slower elapsed time (4.301 to DeJoria’s quicker 4.252).

The difference came at the starting line where Force grabbed a .095 of a second reaction time advantage before his 10,000 horsepower hybrid inexplicably lost traction, something that had not occurred during six previous trips down the 1,000 foot course during qualifying and eliminations.

However, even though he lost lane choice, Force had no difficulty in the final where his 4.173 at 302.48 miles per hour easily covered Densham’s up-in-smoke 5.808 at only 120 mph.

“I paced myself today and it was it was good day for Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Traxxas, Peak and all my sponsors. It was a great Western Swing having my grandchildren up here. I think they’re bringing us luck,” Force said. “Jimmy Prock was on his game and gave me a great hot rod.  Whatever I try to do to screw it up, like making calls on changing the clutch when I don’t have a clue, Jimmy just gets it right.

“I raced Densham 40 years ago at this track and we were having so much fun down there in the staging lanes,” Force said.  “I know we’re supposed to be serious, it’s race day, but when you’re racing a friend and he comes up here on a budget and steps it up and races with these guys and gets in the final, it’s awesome for him.  I always say that I don’t mind losing to a teammate like Robert (Hight) or Courtney (Force) and when I’ve lost to Gary, I don’t mind either (because) I feel like he’s still a teammate.

It was three wins in three weeks for JFR and Ford with Force’s Seattle success coming on the heels of victories in Denver, Colo., and Sonoma, Calif., by teammates Robert Hight and Courtney Force, respectively.  It’s the first time in the history of the Western Swing that a team has “swept the ‘Swing” with three different race winners.

“I want to thank everyone, especially my (other) teams and everyone that works together,” Force said.  “I had a ball up here this weekend. We also had some luck today.  DeJoria outran me.  The kid’s really good and she’s under a lot of pressure, like my kids, but I was able to get the win.”

It was Force’s 141st tour victory, his 59th from the No. 1 starting position from which he last won the Northwest Nationals 10 years ago.

Force’s dominating performance transformed a largely disappointing day into one of celebration for the Ford faithful. The 16-time Auto Racing All-American was the only Ford driver to make it past the second round as first Courtney Force, then Bob Tasca III, Hight and Tim Wilkerson all bowed out early.

Nevertheless, Hight retained the points lead for the 13th consecutive event, Courtney remained fourth and Wilkerson held on to the 10th and final transfer spot despite his second round loss to Densham. 

The victory was significant for many reasons, the least of which was not the fact that it moved Force into a tie with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden for the most victories by a Ford Racing driver in a single series.  Glidden won 78 times in Pro Stock in a series of Fords.  Force now has won 78 times, all in Castrol Mustangs.

Force’s eighth win at Seattle enabled him to move to within 47 points of pacesetting teammate Hight, who once appeared to have a lock on the No. 1 starting spot in the playoffs.

Since a mid-season swoon during which he lost five consecutive first round races, Force has gone 17-4 to put himself prominently back into contention for another championship.

While Hight and Force already are in the playoffs and while Courtney can get in simply by qualifying at the next two races, Wilkerson still has work to do and, after losing to Hight in Sunday’s first round, Tasca has been all but mathematically eliminated. 

Wilkerson will move on to Brainerd, Minn., for the 33rd annual Lucas Oil Nationals two weeks hence leading 2012 series champion Jack Beckman by just 20 points in the battle for the 10th and final transfer position.

"We had a chance to give ourselves a little comfort space there, but it mowed through the clutch like you wouldn't believe and it just never got up a good head of steam," Wilkerson said of his second round exit.

"I thought we'd go out there and safely run a 4.16 or a 4.17, something like that, but it didn't cooperate,” said the man who owns, drives and tunes the Levi, Ray and Shoup entry.  “Tough one to swallow, but they're all hard out here.  It didn't really matter if it was Gary Densham, John Force or ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits in the other lane, we were trying to run that 4.16 and see how that stacked up.

“It didn't stack up, but at least we're leaving here on a positive trend and with two races left in the regular season we're in position to do some good. I told Jack (Beckman) on TV Saturday that I really don't see it as either him or me in the playoffs. I think we can both make it. That's the approach, as far as I'm concerned.

Courtney expected more from eliminations after qualifying second and briefly knocking her dad out of the No. 1 position.

“We had a rough first round,” said the 26-year-old driver of the Traxxas Ford.  “We went out and blew the tires off.  It obviously wasn’t the run we had hoped to make. We had a good car all weekend, but we couldn’t get it down in the heat today.”

Hight, who has won a category high five times this year and has led the points since the season’s fourth race, came up just short against Hagan, 4.241 to 4.287. 

“We felt like we had a Funny Car that could go all the way today,” said the 34-time tour winner.  “It was charging in the second round (but then it) hazed the tires.  We’ll just get ready for Brainerd and the U.S. Nationals.”

*****

Final round results from Sunday’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways

TOP FUEL – Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.844, 318.84 mphk def. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.887, 311.70 mph. 

FUNNY CAR – John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang, 4.173, 302.48 mph, def. Gary Densham, Menifee, Calif., Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger, 5.808, 120.44 mph.

PRO STOCK – Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.611, 210.67 mph, def. Greg Anderson, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.608, 210.54 mph.

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER – Joey Severance, Woodburn, Ore., TAD, 5.238, 273.11 mph, def. Chris Demke, Tujunga, Calif., TAD, 5.251, 273.00 mph.

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR – Doug  Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 5.609, 256.55 mph, def. Sean Bellemeur, Anaheim, Calif., 2004 Chevrolet Camaro, 5.650, 254.38 mph.

COMPETITION – Brandon Huhtala, Puyallup, Wash., 2010 Pontiac GXP, def. Ryan Warter, Olalla, Wash., 1992 Chevrolet Camaro

SUPER STOCK – Terry Anderson, Meridian, Idaho, 1967 Chevy Nova, def. Alan Falcone, Seattle, Wash, 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier.

STOCK – Tim Fletcher, Churchville, N.Y., 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, def. Mick Alley, Eagle, Idaho, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. 

SUPER COMP – Marc Heritage, Spanaway, Wash., dragster, def. Rodger Comstock, Las Vegas, Nev., dragster.

SUPER GAS – Mike Shannon, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, def. Tanner Hiatt, Sparks, Nev., 2005 Chevrolet Corvette. 

SUPER STREET – Kyle Colletti, Snohomish, Wash., 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, def. John Ermish, Renton, Wash., 1967 Chevy Chevelle.

*****

Unofficial Mello Yello points following Sunday’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways

TOP FUEL – 1. Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools dragster, 1345; 2. Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster, 1269; 3. Shawn Langdon, Al-Anabi dragster, 1146; 4. Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster, 999; 5. Steve Torrence, Capco Contractors dragster, 920; 6. Spencer Massey, Schumacher Electric dragster, 895; 7. Brittany Force, Castrol EDGE dragster, 856; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, Al-Anabi dragster, 855; 9. Richie Crampton, GEICO dragster, 808; 10. J.R. Todd, Optima Batteries dragster, 774.

FUNNY CAR – 1. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford, 1271; 2. John Force, Castrol GTX Ford, 1224; 3. Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge, 989; 4. Courtney Force, Traxxas Ford, 980; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Make A Wish Dodge, 975; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Patron XO Café Toyota, 961; 7. Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Dodge, 949; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Snap-on Tools Toyota, 894; 9. Del Worsham, DHL Toyota, 840; 10. Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford, 815.  Also, 11. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge, 795.

PRO STOCK – 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Elite Chevrolet, 1229; 2. Allen Johnson, Mopar Dodge, 1197; 3. Jason Line, Summit Racing Chevrolet, 1192; 4. Jeg Coughlin Jr., JEGS.com Dodge, 1128; 5. Dave Connolly, Charter Communications Chevy, 1075; 6. Shane Gray, Gray Engineering Chevrolet, 1015; 7. Vincent Nobile, Mountain View Tire Chevrolet, 959; 8. Vieri Gaines, Kendall Dodge, 742; 9. Chris McGaha, Harlow Sammons Chevrolet, 718; 10. Greg Anderson, Summit Racing Camaro, 647. 

*****

Final qualifying order and round-by-round results from Sunday’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways        

TOP FUEL

Final qualifying order – 1. Tony Schumacher, Long Grove, Ill., U.S. Army dragster, 3.804, 318.32 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.805, 320.28 mph; 3. Shawn Langdon, Mira Loma, Calif., Al-Anabi dragster, 3.807, 317.05 mph; 4. Richie Crampton, Brownsburg, Ind., GEICO dragster, 3.809, 317.19 mph; 5. Bob Vandergriff Jr., Alpharetta, Ga., C&J Energy dragster, 3.812, 318.77 mph; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, Los Angeles, Calif., al-Anabi dragster, 3.813, 319.22 mph; 7 Spencer Massey, Ft. Worth, Texas, Schumacher Electric Battery Extender dragster, 3.815, 318.09 mph; 8. J.R. Todd, Indianapolis, Ind., Optima Batteries dragster, 3.827, 314.83 mph; 9. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster, 3.834, 316.45 mph; 10. Troy Buff, Spring, Texas, Bill Miller Engineering dragster, 3.845, 311.41 mph; 11. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol EDGE dragster, 3.848, 310.84 mph; 12. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.884, 309.34 mph; 13. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Instigator dragster, 3.931, 313.73 mph; 14. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster, 3.998, 305.77 mph; 15. Mike Salinas, San Jose, Calif., Scrappers Racing dragster, 4.158, 283.79 mph; 16. Jenna Haddock, Temple, Texas, Patriot Grading dragster, 4.176, 273.44 mph.

Round 1 – 1. Tony Schumacher, Long Grove, Ill., U.S. Army dragster, 3.828, 319.37 mph, def. 16. Jenna Haddock, Temple, Texas, Patriot Grading dragster, 13.039, 76.94 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.794, 320.36 mph, def. 15. Mike Salinas, San Jose, Calif., Scrappers Racing dragster, 4.114, 293.41 mph; 3. Shawn Langdon, Mira Loma, Calif., Al-Anabi dragster, 3.787, 317.12 mph, def. 14. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster, 3.870, 309.77 mph; 4. Richie Crampton, Brownsburg, Ind., GEICO dragster, 3.843, 317.22 mph, def. 13. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Instigator dragster, 3.898, 316.75 mph; 12. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.828, 317.79 mph, def. 5. Bob Vandergriff Jr., Alpharetta, Ga., C&J Energy dragster, foul; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, Los Angeles, Calif., al-Anabi dragster, 3.804, 319.22 mph, def. 11. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol EDGE dragster, 3.841, 314.31 mph; 10. Troy Buff, Spring, Texas, Bill Miller Engineering dragster, 3.816, 312.78 mph, def. 7. Spencer Massey, Ft. Worth, Texas, Schumacher Electric Battery Extender dragster, 3.880, 292.39 mph; 9. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster, 3.932, 310.55 mph, def. 8. J.R. Todd, Indianapolis, Ind., Optima Batteries dragster, 4.140, 211.36 mph.

Round 2 – Brown, 3.866, 309.77 mph, def. Crampton, 10.822, 70.61 mph; Schumacher, 3.840, 313.88 mph, def. Torrence, 3.909, 310.70 mph; Kalitta, 3.864, 314.09 mph, def. Buff, 3.996, 294.69 mph; Langdon, 3.983, 240.89 mph, def. alBalooshi, 3.997, 299.86 mph.

Semifinals – Kalitta, 4.032, 268.17 mph, def. Langdon, 4.112, 262.39 mph; Brown, 3.883, 312.13 mph, def. Schumacher, 3.944, 295.66 mph.

FINAL – Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.844, 318.84 mphk def. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.887, 311.70 mph. 

FUNNY CAR

Final qualifying order – 1. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 4.057, 308.07 mph; 2. Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Traxxas Ford Mustang, 4.082, 306.33 mph; 3. Matt Hagan, Christiansburg, Va., Mopar Express Dodge Charger, 4.100, 302.41 mph; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Austin, Texas, Patron XO Café Toyota Camry, 4.101, 303.23 mph; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Avon, Ind., Make A Wish Dodge Charger, 4.101, 304.19 mph; 6. Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang, 4.107, 310.91 mph; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Springfield, Ill., Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, 4.120, 306.40 mph; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Brownsburg, Ind., Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, 4.126, 296.18 mph; 9. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Dodge Charger, 4.131, 300.53 mph; 10. Del Worsham, Villa Park, Calif., DHL Toyota Camry, 4.136, 298.34 mph; 11. Bob Tasca III, Cranston, R.I., Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, 4.150, 301.40 mph; 12. Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Valvoline Dodge Charger, 4.156, 297.29 mph; 13. Tony Pedregon, Brownsburg, Ind., American Racing Wheels Toyota Camry, 4.175, 294.18 mph; 14. Terry Haddock, Temple, Texas, Patriot Grading Chevrolet Camaro, 4.199, 292.46 mph; 15. Gary Densham, Menifee, Calif., Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger, 4.303, 292.46 mph; 16. Jeff Diehl, Salinas, Calif., JDR Toyota Solara, 4.361, 283.49 mph.

Round 1 – 1. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 4.102, 307.58 mph, def. 16. Jeff Diehl, Salinas, Calif., JDR Toyota Solara, 4.354, 282.36 mph; 15. Gary Densham, Menifee, Calif., Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger, 4.314, 286.86 mph, def. 2. Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Traxxas Ford Mustang, 6.564, 98.66 mph; 3. Matt Hagan, Christiansburg, Va., Mopar Express Dodge Charger, 4.109, 306.26 mph, def. 14. Terry Haddock, Temple, Texas, Patriot Grading Chevrolet Camaro, 4.583, 209.88 mph; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Austin, Texas, Patron XO Café Toyota Camry, 4.140, 300.40 mph, def. 13. Tony Pedregon, Brownsburg, Ind., American Racing Wheels Toyota Camry, 4.663, 171.23 mph; 12. Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Valvoline Dodge Charger, 4.176, 295.59 mph, def. 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Avon, Ind., Make A Wish Dodge Charger, 4.164, 302.75 mph; 6. Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang, 4.112, 305.98 mph, def. 11. Bob Tasca III, Cranston, R.I., Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, 4.918, 161.23 mph; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Springfield, Ill., Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, 4.134, 302.75, def. 10. Del Worsham, Villa Park, Calif., DHL Toyota Camry, 4.457, 219.44 mph; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Brownsburg, Ind., Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, 4.109, 304.05 mph, def. 9. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Dodge Charger, 4.171, 297.02 mph.

Round 2 – DeJoria, 4.202, 293.22 mph, def. Beckman, 4.385, 230.45 mph; J. Force, 4.161, 302.48 mph, def. C. Pedregon, 4.184, 296.37 mph; Hagan, 4.241, 278.98 mph, def. Hight, 4.287, 263.20 mph; Densham, 4.184, 278.46 mph, def. Wilkerson, 4.228, 294.69 mph.

Semifinals – J. Force, 4.301, 258.42 mph, def. DeJoria, 4.252, 277.72 mph; Densham, 4.236, 288.89 mph, def. Hagan, 4.285, 283.67 mph.

FINAL – John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang, 4.173, 302.48 mph, def. Gary Densham, Menifee, Calif., Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger, 5.808, 120.44 mph.

PRO STOCK

Final qualifying order – 1. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Magneti-Morelli Dodge Dart, 6.535, 211.86 mph; 2. Shane Gray, Denver, N.C., Gray Manufacturing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.538, 211.96 mph; 3. Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.549, 211.36 mph; 4. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Delaware, Ohio, JEGS.com Dodge Dart, 6.553, 211.13 mph; 5. Greg Anderson, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.556, 211.56 mph; 6. Vieri Gaines, Lakewood, Colo., Kendall Dodge Dart, 6.561, 211.10 mph; 7. Jonathon Gray, Mooresville, N.C., Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, 6.562, 211.46 mph; 8. Vincent Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro, 6.569, 210.73 mph; 9. Dave Connolly, Elyria, Ohio, Charter Communications Chevrolet Camaro, 6.587, 210.60 mph; 10. Chris McGaha, Odessa, Texas, Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro, 6.588, 210.57 mph; 11. Matt Hartford, Phoenix, Ariz., Perfect Seal Dodge Avenger, 6.597, 210.67 mph; 12. Deric Kramer, Sterling, Colo., American Ethanol Dodge Avenger, 6.615, 209.39 mph; 13. Larry Morgan, Newark, Ohio, Lucas Oil Ford Mustang, 6.695, 207.56 mph; 14. Mark Wolfe, Arlington, Wash., Wolfe Racing Ford Mustang, 7.060, 205.57 mph; 15. Travis Mazza, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Travis Mazza Ford Mustang, 8.038, 129.28 mph.

Round 1 – 1. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Magneti-Morelli Dodge Dart, 6.546,  211.30 mph, bye; 2. Shane Gray, Denver, N.C., Gray Manufacturing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.544, 211.43 mph, def. 15. Travis Mazza, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Travis Mazza Ford Mustang, 7.543, 133.88 mph; 3. Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.555, 211.16 mph, def. 14. Mark Wolfe, Arlington, Wash., Wolfe Racing Ford Mustang, 6.810, 205.94 mph; 4. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Delaware, Ohio, JEGS.com Dodge Dart, 6.565, 210.67 mph, def. 13. Larry Morgan, Newark, Ohio, Lucas Oil Ford Mustang, 6.646, 208.17 mph; 5. Greg Anderson, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.556, 211.63 mph, def. 12. Deric Kramer, Sterling, Colo., American Ethanol Dodge Avenger, foul; 6. Vieri Gaines, Lakewood, Colo., Kendall Dodge Dart, 6.581, 210.93 mph, def. 11. Matt Hartford, Phoenix, Ariz., Perfect Seal Dodge Avenger, 6.622, 209.65 mph; 7. Jonathon Gray, Mooresville, N.C., Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, 6.578, 210.83 mph, def. 10. Chris McGaha, Odessa, Texas, Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro, 6.605, 210.08 mph; 9. Dave Connolly, Elyria, Ohio, Charter Communications Chevrolet Camaro, 6.560, 210.73 mph, def. 8. Vincent Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro, 6.666, 209.26 mph.

Round 2 – Anderson, 6.571, 211.30 mph, def. Coughlin, 12.185, 54.52 mph; Line, 6.579, 210.73 mph, def. Gaines, 6.593, 210.77 mph; Johnson, 6.569, 210.87 mph, def. Connolly, 6.589, 210.28 mph; S. Gray, 6.574, 210.87 mph, def. J. Gray, 6.591, 210.24 mph.

Semifinals – Anderson, 6.586, 210.90 mph, def. Johnson, 16.159, 51.08 mph; Line, 6.606, 210.24 mph, def. S. Gray, 6.625, 210.05 mph.

FINAL – Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.611, 210.67 mph, def. Greg Anderson, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, 6.608, 210.54 mph.