PEAK driver John Force now sixth in Funny Car points after Gateway semis appearance

John Force made it to the semifinals of Sunday’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park and jumped to sixth in the points standings as the NHRA’S Countdown to the Championship reached the halfway point.
Force, driving the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated Brian Stewart and daughter Courtney Force in the first two rounds to make it to the semis. And, despite leading at the 660-foot mark in his appearance against Ron Capps, his car began to drift toward the wall and he lifted just before the line. That ended up being the difference, as his pass of 3.962 seconds at 274.33 mph fell just short.
“I can’t make any excuse,” said Force, who qualified No. 2 after tying his career-best elapsed time of 3.832 seconds in qualifying. “I let it get over and it got me into the wall. I know the left lane will suck you outside and the right lane will take you to the right, but I didn’t feel it. I moved over but not enough that I thought it would make any difference. I didn’t even know I was over, and the next thing I knew I was into the wall. I did scrape the wall.”
Neither of Force’s elimination round wins came without some sort of excitement. In Force’s first-round matchup, against No. 15 Stewart, he was away first and never challenged, however, he smoked the tires and began weaving back and forth in the right lane. He pedaled the car three times, but with Stewart’s car far behind after smoking the tires at the line, he won with a pass of 5.566 seconds at 228.58 mph.
That pitted Force against daughter Courtney Force, who earned lane choice with a strong first-round pass of 3.884 seconds at 334.32 mph. John Force took off with a .041-second reaction time. He never trailed, recording a pass of 3.913 seconds at 330.88 mph, with Courtney Force’s pass of 3.888 seconds at 328.30 mph coming up a few feet short.
Force took off with a .045-second reaction time in the semis, falling behind at the 60- and 330-foot increments before edging ahead at 660 feet. But the car slowed and smoked as it reached the finish, and Capps drove by, winning by about 20 feet.
Still, it was John Force’s first semifinals appearance since August, when he advanced to the third round of the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. It also bumped him from eighth in the standings to sixth, as he continues to make ground and chase after his 17th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car title.
“I finally got a race car that I can race and I had a car that could win today,” Force said. “If you’re going to win, you have to live on the edge. I had a car that could win and we’ve moved up in the points (sixth).”
The next race on the NHRA circuit is the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.
4-Second Reads:
  • Best Qualifying Effort: 3.832 seconds/334.65 mph (Round 2; Qualified No. 2)
  • Elimination Round 1 (Right Lane): 5.566 seconds/228.58 mph (RT – .091 seconds), def. No. 15 Brian Stewart, 8.104 seconds/126.60 mph (RT – .169 seconds); good launch but had to pedal the car to the finish after smoking the tires; vs. Stewart – now 2-0 all-time; 1-0 this season; 2-0 at St. Louis
  • Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Right Lane): 3.913 seconds/330.88 mph (RT – .041 seconds), def. No. 7 Courtney Force, 3.888 seconds/328.30 mph (RT – .094 seconds); strong launch whch made the difference, winning by about 14 feet; vs. Courtney Force – now 15-9 all-time; 1-2 this season; 1-1 at St. Louis
  • Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Left Lane): 3.962 seconds/274.33 mph (RT – .047 seconds), lost to No. 3 Ron Capps, 3.905 seconds/329.91 mph (RT – .057 seconds); another good launch, stayed ahead at the midway point but car made a move toward the wall and had to back off; vs. Capps – now 55-34 all-time; 0-2 this season; 5-3 at St. Louis
  • Now 1,283-563 (1,846 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds (.695)
  • Now 213-93 (306 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 2 (.696)
  • Now 37-17 (54 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at St. Louis (.685)
  • Now 20-20 (40 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.500)
  • Funny Car Points Standings: 1. Ron Capps 2395; 2. Robert Hight 2349; 3. Courtney Force 2287; 4. Matt Hagan 2238; 5. Jack Beckman 2228; 6. John Force 2197.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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