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John Force enters Epping eliminations with a terrific Chevy Camaro Funny Car – is win No. 150 up next?

The 16-time champion has had the best Funny Car in the category over the last six races. 
07 Jul 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Feature
John Force

We’re halfway through the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and John Force is nearly a year removed from his last win. That hasn’t been from a lack of speed. His PEAK Coolant Chevy Camaro ranks second in NHRA Power Ranking, third in average mile per hour, fourth in average elapsed time and first in success rate. 

That same Camaro has been even better over the last six races. Force is ranked first in NHRA Power Ranking since the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta (77.53), a full 10 points better than Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. That’s on the back of the second-best elapsed time in the category, the best success rate, and the second-fastest car in the class. 

He has an 11-4 win/loss record in that time and reached the final at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals just two races to go. He’s also earned two pole positions and qualified in the top three in all but one of those events. Force’s No. 11 qualifier at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago remains the outlier. That performance brought him to second place in points. 

Getting closer to a 17th championship almost certainly means more to Force than win No. 150, but it’s fair to say those two are linked. It’s been a very long time since a championship came without a victory and, as such, we’ll at least move forward believing the winningest driver in NHRA history won’t get one without the other. 

This uptick in performance, which does come with an above-average reaction time for everyone’s favorite deep-stager, comes off the heels of the four-race Summer Swing. It doesn’t seem to matter much to crew chief Brian Corradi whether the car is in the cool conditions of Topeka (No. 3 qualifier, semifinal finish) or the heat of Bristol (No. 1 qualifier, runner up), so Epping could very well be the race Force seals the deal. 

Corradi did not perform well in Epping in 2018. Courtney Force, who Corradi tuned for in 2018, qualified in the No. 13 spot and lost in the first round. That’s the extent of recent data for the tuner, but the sample size is small enough that it’s relatively easy to write off. It’s worth noting that Courtney qualified No. 1 at every race from Atlanta to Sonoma with the exception of Chicago and Epping in 2018; whether that means those are weak points for Corradi or mere blips is hard to know. 

John, for his part, has not raced this well for some time. He’s averaging a .0693-second reaction time (.04-second better than his season average) and guiding his Camaro down the strip consistently. That consistency is what gives Force a great shot at winning No. 150 every time he shows up. He might be tired of talking about it, but Force has his best shot at history yet entering the NHRA New England Nationals.