Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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October 24, 2013

Memory keeps Force focused

Since he has fought his way back to the top of the NHRA Funny Car standings with consecutive victories in the Mello Yello Series, one might logically expect a little swagger from John Force when the Countdown to the Championship moves this week to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

However, if rivals Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman, as well as teammate Robert Hight, expect to face an overconfident points leader in this week’s 13th annual Toyota Nationals, they could be terribly disappointed. 

That’s because drag racing’s biggest winner enters the season’s next-to-last race with a sense of apprehension that might suggest he is 65 points behind Hagan instead of 65 ahead. 

The current scenario is eerily similar to 2010 when, coming into Vegas, the roles were reversed with Hagan in the lead and Force 64 points back.

That turn of events came out in Forse's favor.

Force drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang past Hagan’s Dodge in the final round at LVMS, then went on to win the Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif., and earn the most unlikely of his record 15 career championships. 

For that reason alone, the 137-time NHRA tour winner isn’t going to be talking smack. He knows that nothing is yet written in stone because a lot can happen in eight competitive rounds

“We got past him three years ago, but, at the end of the day, he could do the same thing to us this time,” Force said of Hagan. “He’s got a fast hot rod over there with Dickie (crew chief Dickie Venables) and (car owner Don) Schumacher, he’s a great young driver and he’s motivated. That’s a dangerous combination.”

As a result, instead of talking title, Force has retreated to the comfort of the fallback position he always has maintained in pressure situations, “be humble and keep on working.”

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