John Force lost the race then got back in the race in the first round before finally coming up one round short of winning his 12th Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in a bizarre day at Brainerd International Raceway. Force lost to new points leader Ron Capps in a classic Don Schumacher Racing versus John Force Racing Funny Car final round. Force smoked the tires at about 200 feet in his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang.
In the opening round Force, the No. 6 qualifier, shockingly red-light to Alexis DeJoria handing the rookie a first round win and putting a dent in Force’s hopes of holding onto his position in the Top Ten. Seconds later in a dramatic turn of events DeJoria smoked the tires in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry and crossed the center-line. That infraction was worse than Force’s red-light and he moved on to a round two match-up with Cruz Pedregon.
Force outran Pedregon and then defeated Ford Racing veteran Tim Wilkerson to set up his final round race with Capps.
“What is most important is I have a race car now. It has been showing signs of life since Denver and Sonoma. Courtney should be pretty close to clinching but it isn’t official. My improvement went way up this weekend. I was running 4.0s all weekend,” said Force. “I have no complaints after first round. The guys stood by me which is most important. When I failed they stood right up. I have to push that starting line against these cars to see what I can get away with. Sometimes you goof up and that is what I did in the first round. I’ll move on from here and we’ll be ready to test in Indy.”
“To make the Countdown is great but I don’t like to make something if I can’t compete in it. Just like Tony Stewart said last year. He barely got in last year and then he got on a roll. We’ll see what happens.”
After Force got the win over Wilkerson he reviewed the day at the top end. Force was motivated by the support he got not just from his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE team but from the entire JFR organization.
“After first round that was a real white knuckler. My boys back in the pits asked me, ‘Force, what do you teach us? We are a team. We love you even when you are screwed up.’ (Crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli, Danny DeGennaro and all the guys stood by me. I have to thank Castrol, Ford, Auto Club Mac Tools, BrandSource and Traxxas. Mike Jenkins, the Traxxas president, bought my daughter a Rolex watch for winning Seattle. I don’t need a watch I just need to win.”
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