Despite Early Exit, Force Gains Ground on Points Leader (1 Viewer)

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Despite Early Exit, Force Gains Ground on Points Leader
Cuts Deficit to Just 58 Points

BRAINERD, Minn. (8/13/06) -- With one qualifying race remaining, the Team Castrol Fords locked up the 1-2-3 starting positions for the 25th annual Skoal Showdown Funny Car bonus race contested next month at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind. First round pairings won't be determined until the completion of qualifying at this week's O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis, Tenn. Robert Hight, driver of the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, currently leads the points. If he holds on to his lead through Memphis, he will become the first Funny Car driver other than John Force to earn the No. 1 seed in the last 17 seasons.

John Force's streak of never having lost a round of racing at Brainerd International Raceway after qualifying No. 1 came to an abrupt end in Sunday's 25th annual Lucas Nationals when the engine in the 13-time Funny Car champion's Castrol GTX Ford expired in a second round match with Del Worsham's Chevrolet.

Despite his unexpected ouster, Force managed to gain ground on points leader Ron Capps, who was dumped in the first round by journeyman Bob Gilbertson.

As a result, Force will move on to Memphis, Tenn., for this week's 19th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals trailing the leader by just 58 points.

Force, the No. 1 qualifier for the fifth time this season and for th 130th time in his career, got off to an impressive start, beating Phil Burkart Jr. in round one with what at the time was the quickest quarter mile of the entire weekend (4.754 seconds).

Unfortunately, it came apart in round two when a burned piston slowed the Mustang to 5.360 seconds, allowing Del Worsham to advance. Neither of the other Team Castrol Fords fared any better. Two-time defending champion Eric Medlen, trying to win on his 33rd birthday, was ousted in round two when a supercharger drive belt broke on the Castrol SYNTEC Ford and Robert Hight and the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford were ousted in round one.
 
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