In this week’s Throwback Thursday feature, NHRA reporter Lewis Bloom goes into the archives to look back at the last time that a Funny Car driver won back-to-back NHRA Mello Yello world championships, way back in 2002, when John Force won his 10th straight title. Since then, no other Funny Car driver has gone back to back.
The championship that Force won in 2002 was not clinched until the semifinals of the Auto Club NHRA Finals, which, at the time, was the longest it had taken for him to claim a title. Force’s own team driver, Tony Pedregon, came into the Finals with a chance to end Force’s reign of Funny Car terror. The two drivers ended up racing into the semifinals with the championship on the line.
Pedregon needed to win the round of racing and the event to unseat Force. In another classic John Force moment, he beat his teammate on a holeshot to win his 10th consecutive Funny Car championship.
Pedregon, of course, would have his due one year later when he ended Force’s streak by taking the championship himself when he beat Whit Bazemore in the final round in Las Vegas. Since then, not one Funny Car driver has earned back-to-back championships. Del Worsham, the 2015 Mello Yello Funny Car champion, has 16 rounds of racing left to become the first to go back to back in more than a decade.