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John Force Eyes Record Fourth Career Win at NHRA 4-Wide Event in Charlotte

John Force will look to increase his own record of wins in the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway from three to four in Sunday’s finals.

Force, who turns 75 one week from now on May 4, earned the No. 1 provisional qualifying position during Friday night’s second round, doing so in a career-best elapsed time of 3.820 seconds at 330.96 mph.

He’s looking to extend his superiority in the Charlotte 4-Wide event, which he previously won in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

The driver of the PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car held on to the No. 1 spot during Saturday’s two final rounds of qualifying. He covered the track in 4.840 seconds/159.38 mph in the first run of the day, followed by a stout second run of 3.856 seconds/334.07 mph.

“Myself, I’m learning how to drive all over, trying to figure out the 4-Wide,” Force said with a laugh. “So it was a good day for my crew chiefs and a good day for PEAK and Chevrolet. But mainly kicking off for (new sponsor) Rick Hendrick with, that’s big.”

Force will face Paul Smith, Chad Green and longtime rival Cruz Pedregon in the first quad of eliminations on Sunday.

Force chuckled a bit when asked about his mindset for Sunday’s three final rounds that he must navigate to earn what potentially would be the 157th win of his NHRA Funny Car career.

“If I wake up tomorrow, I’ll feel good about tomorrow,” Force quipped. “I know I’m whining all the time about how old I am and all that stuff. I love it, it’s part of my ritual, it’s part of my act and it’s the truth. So I’m still having a ball and still get to come to the media room.

“I’m having fun with my teams and my sponsors and having fun in this room (talking to the Charlotte media).”

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Force is going for his second win of the season. He captured the Funny Car victory in the final round of the Winternationals, which had to be relocated from Pomona, Calif., to Phoenix two weeks later due to rain in Pomona that washed out the final round.

That same weekend in Phoenix, Force’s teammate, Austin Prock, also won the Arizona Nationals in only his third-ever start in an NHRA Funny Car, essentially making it a John Force Racing double-up in the same weekend.

Prock finished second in Saturday’s Mission Foods’ #2Fast2Tasty race-within-a-race competition. Prock’s two runs were both stout: 3.883 seconds/330.80 mph and then 3.852 seconds/333.58 mph.

Prock will start from the No. 3 spot in Sunday’s first quad of eliminations in his Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, squaring off against Dave Richards, Matt Hagan and Blake Alexander.

“We struggled Friday but we definitely turned things around today,” Prock said. “We were low ET of the session in Q3 and second-quick in Q4. It was a good turnaround, rallied for more points and made it to the final round, got runner-up in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge.

“So all-in-all, it was a good day. We would have liked one spot better in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, but we’ll take it.”

If things go JFR’s way, Prock could meet his boss in the final round Sunday.

“I think (the possibility is) very high,” Prock said of facing Force for the first time in competing Funny Cars in the same round. “We have two really competitive race cars right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re both in the final round, and we obviously hope for that as a company.

“A 1-2 finish tomorrow would be great for both our championship runs and really special for the company, especially this weekend having on our race cars. It would be a great debut for our new partner.”

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In Top Fuel, JFR driver Brittany Force reached the semifinals of the Mission Foods’ #2Fast2Tasty competition before bowing out after losing traction on her dragster and finishing with a run of 5.493 seconds/127.17 mph.

Later in Q4, traction issues again hampered Force, as she recorded a run of 4.073 seconds/218.27 mph.

“We’re very proud to team up and partner with this weekend,” Brittany Force said. “Hendrick is a huge name in motorsports and we’re proud to bring them into the Top Fuel category.

“We didn’t qualify where we wanted to, but tomorrow is a new day and we plan to turn things around and get this team where it needs to be, going rounds and in that winner’s circle.”

A two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion, Brittany Force will start from the No. 15 position on Sunday. She will face Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon and Steve Torrence in the opening Top Fuel quad.

This story was originally published on April 28, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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