Captures NHRA Opener
Larry Jewett - February 13, 2014 01:53 PM
John Force opened his pursuit of a 17th Funny Car world championship title in record-setting fashion when he raced to victory at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals. The season-opening NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event was held at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona near Los Angeles.
Force powered his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a national record time of 3.965 seconds at 323.58 mph to take the victory over Matt Hagan, who lost traction early in the race and finished in 6.613 at 117.88. It was Force’s sixth consecutive final round appearance dating back to last season and an NHRA record 139th victory. Force, 64, raced past Paul Lee, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Bob Tasca in earlier rounds to win from the No. 1 qualifying position and also set the Funny Car national speed record at 324.12 mph.
“We had a good race car. It's amazing,” said Force, of his 16th win at his home track and his seventh Winternationals trophy. “We're trying to build our sport and come out here and run good for you all and the fans, and it's hard sometimes. Jimmy Prock and that whole braintrust did a great job. We're back in the game. Everything's just going right. I don't get it. I ain't that good of a guy. I'm just excited. There’s a lot going on (with sponsors), and man, what a good time to flex your muscles.”
There were more Mustang championships on this race day as Brian Hough claimed the Top Alcohol Funny Car title with a 5.571 pass at 257.83 miles per hour. Don Keen used a ’65 Mustang to lay claim to the Super Stock title.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Feb. 21-23 with the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.