Defending race winner John Force earns No. 9 position with PEAK Chevrolet for NHRA Carolina Nationals

Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force will seek his second consecutive victory in the NHRA Carolina Nationals from the No. 9 position Sunday, as he recorded a best pass of 3.967 seconds at 325.06 mph in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS.
Force said his goal was to move up as much as he could from Saturday’s second-round pass of 3.976 seconds. He was close in Saturday’s early afternoon session, or third round of qualifying, when he posted a run of 3.985 seconds at 326.95 mph. While not quicker, it did mark the quickest run of the session, netting him three bonus points.
But in the hotter conditions of the late-afternoon session, Force was quickest, and momentarily moved into the eighth position with lane choice on the line. But the time was surpassed late in the session, and he dropped back to No. 9 with a meeting with No. 8 Cruz Pedregon, whom he has met more times in elimination-round competition than any other competitor. Pedregon’s time was 3.962 seconds at 314.02 mph. It will mark the pair’s 103rd matchup all-time, with Force holding a 2-to-1 advantage (68 wins to 34 losses).
While starting No. 9 isn’t the most ideal position, Force showed he was able to post consistent times. He was quickest in the third session and fourth quickest in the first and fourth sessions of the weekend, with solid 3.9s in the heat Saturday.
“We tried to move up today from No. 9, to get lane choice,” said Force, who enters the Countdown to the Championship, the NHRA’s version of the playoffs, seventh in Funny Car points. “Got the points the first session, but couldn’t move up in the last run even though I was quicker. Got bumped up, then bumped back down. But those runs were in the heat, and we’re going to race in the heat tomorrow.”
Force’s daughter, Courtney Force, will start No. 1 in the Advance Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, while teammate Robert Hight was No. 6 in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. Brittany Force, in the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster, was No. 6.
“I’m excited about how everyone is running,” Force said. “Life’s good; it’s time to start the Countdown.”
Elimination rounds begin at noon Eastern tomorrow, with live television coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
4-Second Reads:
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Right Lane): 3.976 seconds/314.31 mph; a little swirly mid-track but overall good run (No. 4 of session and No. 4 overall; no bonus points in session)
  • Qualifying Round 2 (Left Lane): 4.497 seconds/186.67 mph; great launch and looked strong until car popped and started to smoke at about 660 feet (No. 12 of session and No. 9 overall; no bonus points in session and no bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 3 (Right Lane): 3.985 seconds/326.95 mph; solid pass down the middle (No. 1 of session and No. 9 overall; three bonus points in session and three bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 4 (Left Lane): 3.967 seconds/325.06 mph; strong pass which moved him into the top half of the bracket for the time being (No. 4 of session and No. 9 overall; no bonus points in session and three bonus points overall)
  • This is the first time this season and 29th time in his career Force has qualified No. 9 for a race. He is looking for his second career victory and fourth finals appearance from the No. 9 position.
  • Force’s only other victory from the No. 9 position came in 2008 at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas. He is 30-27 in 57 elimination-rounds from the No. 9 spot.
  • This is the second time Force has qualified No. 9 at Charlotte, the other time coming in 2014 in the fall race. The marked the third and most recent finals appearance from the No. 9 position.
  • Force’s first-round matchup against Cruz Pedregon marks the 103rd time the two will compete against each other, extending their record between two drivers in professional competition. Force holds the advantage at 68-34 all-time. This will be the first time the pair has raced against each other in the fall race at Charlotte.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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