:::::: News ::::::

FORCE STREAK ENDS AT 395

Time finally ran out Saturday on John Force, the 14-time and reigning NHRA Funny
Car champion.  Drag racing's biggest winner will watch Sunday's eighth annual
SummitRacing.com Nationals from the sidelines at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor
Speedway after failing to make the 16-car starting lineup for the first time
since Oct. 31, 1987.

 
 Driving a heavier version of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang in
which he qualified for the first three races of the season, Force bumped into
the field on his final attempt Saturday – but couldn't stay there.  He wound up
17th with a time of 4.852 seconds, just shy of the 4.837 rung up by No. 16
qualifier Jack Beckman.
 
 "I was given the same opportunities as everyone else," Force said after
seeing his streak of 395 consecutive starts come to an unexpected end.  "We just
didn't get the job  done.  It's that simple.  I've still got two cars in and
there's a Force still out there still (daughter Ashley was the No. 3 qualifier
at 4.748 seconds in the Castrol GTX Ford and son-in-law Robert Hight No. 2 at
4.740 in the Auto Club of Southern California Ford). 
 
 "There's bigger things in life that I've faced," said the 14-time Auto
Racing All-America selection.  "Trust me.  So, this is only a little stone. 
We've been climbing mountains lately.

SATURDAY VEGAS QUALIFYING

JOHN FORCE'S AMAZING NHRA POWERADE SERIES QUALIFYING STREAK ENDS AT 395
RACES

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Schumacher, Ashley and Coughlin earn No. 1 qualifying positions; Kalitta also
sees qualifying streak end at 164 races

One of the most impressive streaks in motorsports came to an end
Saturday when 14-time Funny Car champion John Force failed to qualify for
eliminations for the first time in 395 races.

Force and Top Fuel contender Doug Kalitta, whose class-leading streak of
races also ended this weekend, will be observers when the SummitRacing.com NHRA
Nationals begin Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

Friday leaders Tony Schumacher, Mike Ashley, and Jeg Coughlin remained on top
of their respective fields at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at The
Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Force last failed to qualify in 1987 at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.

JON CAPPS LAUNCHES VEGAS FUEL TEAM

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Jon Capps launched the newest brand of energy drink during his
Professional NHRA debut at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals this weekend.
Vegas Fuel will be the primary sponsor on Capps' Funny Car, which is owned and
tuned by veteran Paul Smith. Capps plans to run the entire IHRA tour and
selected NHRA races with additional support from Palmer Electric and Ace
Masonry. "We're going after business to business relationships in launching
Vegas Fuel Energy Drink here this weekend," said Capps. "For me, its all about
the business and racing is just a perk." Capps, who was one of the expert
drivers in the movie "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby", also serves
as the national account manager for Vegas Fuel.

BAND-AID ON BULLET WOUND SAFETY?

Jim Dunn has more than 50 years of active drag racing experience, so when he
talks, we listen. Dunn believes the changes about to be mandated by NHRA
regarding Funny Car roll cages and the like are nothing more than a “band aid. I
think they’re over reacting to an admittedly tragic situation, but there needs
to be more thought given to some of the things they’re talking about before they
force us to make changes.”

Dunn is rumored to have had serious words with
new fuel racing honcho Dan Olson over the issue.

BETTING IN VEGAS

The Station Casinos in Las Vegas take action on both the Summitracing.com
Nationals in April and the AC Delco Nationals in October. Since the wagering
pool is miniscule compared to the amounts bet on stick and ball sports, it takes
very little to move the odds. For example, when Jerry Tolliver was running the
WWF car some years back he was listed with prohibitive odds prior to the start
of qualifying, so stopped by on his way to track in an effort to plunk down
something like ten grand. They refused to take his bet (they should have. He
lost early!)

WINDAM'S REAL BIG OH!

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Bill Windham
was unhurt after nearly flipping his car during a pass in Friday's evening
session.

Windham, from El Dorado Hills, Calif., got loose just
before halftrack. The car then slid across the
centerline, nearly flipping, but Windham was able
to bring back under control. (Brian Losness Sequence)

TALKING WITH TOBLER

Although the announcement that Rahn Tobler
would take over the tuning chores for Morgan Lucas came a while back, Tobler
stopped us cold Friday morning when he said, “This is my first day!

Actually, the first time I saw the car was yesterday. The team brought
the car directly to Las Vegas from the Houston race, so when I went to the shop
in Indy only a few of the guys were there.”

LESS NITRO AND OVERDRIVE?

Mike Kloeber, crew chief for the Clay Millican-driven Knoll Gas Top Fuel
dragster, says “we’re just trying to get this car to run a little better. Our
biggest issue is still safety,” he said. “There needs to be an expansion of
mandatory rules in the safety area.” Kloeber believes a complete study of the
fuel classes should be undertaken to determine what’s needed to keep the drivers
safe in the event of an on-track incident.

COIL TALKS - JFR TESTS

A FEW WORDS WITH AUSTIN COIL REGARDING THE JFR TESTING AT LVMS ON
WEDNESDAY

COIL: We found out that (John
Force) can see perfectly and driver the car okay with the new head restrain
system and more padding (around the roll cage), and many of the things our
wizard, Dr. John Melvin, says are way, way better for driver safety in the event
of an incident. Our concern was that with the padding that close to the driver’s
helmet that it might obscure his vision if his head came in contact with the
padding when the car quivers a little bit like it does on a normal run. We know
that when you have sever tire shake no
one can see. That wasn’t really the
issue, but we were concerned that if it obscured his vision it would actually be
a safety hazard, but it appears that everything’s
fine.

WHEN COMPETITION BENEFITS THE RACER

It’s not often when competing aftermarket companies are seen working closely
together, but that’s exactly what’s going on with two firms normally found in
NASCARland. Innovative Safety Products (ISP) of Concord, NC and Safety Solutions
of nearby Mooresville, NC are playing a significant role in the modifications
being made to many Funny Cars as a result of the Eric Medlen tragedy.

Kris
Van Glider of ISP manufactures complete driver compartment safety systems,
including seats, restraints and related accessories, while Trevor Ashline of
Safety Solutions specializes in head and neck restraints. Together they’re
producing items that will shortly become commonplace in NHRA competition, with
John Force Race cars being their first customers.

Ashline’s products
include the mounting hardware for dual straps that will attach to the front
portion of the driver’s helmet on either side of the chin to help keep the head
in place under acceleration. This system will replace the more commonly seen
single “tie-down” strap that many drivers currently have affixed to their
helmets, and that can let the head move from side to side.

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