Hendricks County Flyer
---- — READING, Pa. – For the 28th time in his legendary career, John Force has won back-to-back races, this time by winning the 29th annual Auto Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Force outran rookie driver and former John Force Racing crewman Chad Head in the final 4.106 seconds to 10.002 seconds. Winning from the No. 1 qualifier position for the first time since the 2004 Auto Club NHRA Finals, Force gave credit to his entire team.
“This is a good race car,” Force said. “(Crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock and Danny DeGennaro have things really going. Robert (Hight) told me that this was a great team when I came over here. What is most exciting is the teamwork.”
Chad Head became the 46th different driver to race Force in a final and the 39th to lose to him.
“Chad Head is just a good kid with a lot of heart,” Force said. “When he worked for us he wanted to get experience. He is just a heck of a guy. He worked for Al-Anabi for years. He is doing a heck of a job.”
Throughout the day, Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car had to race consistently tough drivers, and he kept his focus by reviewing timing sheets and huddling up with his team.
“There was good competition today,” Force said. “(Ron) Capps is hungry. I was fudging on the lights against Cruz (Pedregon). I was going in deep on some and not so deep on others. You had to be ready for anything today.”
Force entered the Auto Plus NHRA Nationals in second place after his win last weekend in St. Louis, but left Reading with a 65-point lead. It is the 19th different season Force has led the Mello Yello Funny Car points race.
Force defeated Jeff Arend, Pedregon and Capps en route to his seventh final this season. His winning time of 4.106 seconds was the slowest elapsed time he recorded all weekend. Force had the quickest elapsed time every time his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ran down the track, with the exception of the third qualifying session.
Force’s average elapsed time was 4.083 on race day when the track temp climbed every round.
After the race, Force dedicated the win to his wife, Laurie, and tried to make amends for a missed opportunity last weekend in St. Louis. It was the couple’s 32nd wedding anniversary and with Laurie’s blessing Force gave the win trophy to the new AAA Missouri president and crew chief Jimmy Prock.
“After 32 years of being married this is a pretty good anniversary gift,” Laurie Force said. “Especially since the first nine years we were married I never saw one of these. This is awesome.”