John Force finally got win No. 150. That feels unfair, in a way, but also descriptive of how the greatest drag racer of all time felt when he shoved open his Peak Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car hatch and told the monkey on his back who the boss was. Force is the boss. Then, to the surprise of everyone but the fans who made him who he is, he ran into the grandstands. That’s his Cheers.
Everyone knows the name of the 16-time champion, and the 16X on the side of his Camaro has become something of a staple. Turning that into a 17 has seemed more pipe dream than possibility the past few years, but with tuner Brian Corradi on board, it’s a legitimate possibility. Force leaves the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals in second place, 38 points to the better of Tommy Johnson Jr.
He doesn’t have to win again to become a 17-time champion (Ron Capps and Eddie Krawiec both have titles without wins in the final six races), but he does have to outgain teammate Robert Hight over the final stretch of the season. Points reset at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, where Hight is almost certain to leave with a 20-point advantage. If Force hangs on to second, he will need to score 30 more points over the final six races to bag title 17.
So, does he have the car that can do it? If you’ve been paying attention, you already know the answer is decidedly yes. Corradi has always been money during the Western Swing, which is why I felt relatively confident (as confident as you can be about drag racing outcomes) that Force would get No. 150 during the three-race stretch. He’s also proven to be excellent since moving to Funny Car in 2018. That dominance faded down the stretch, as Courtney Force (who he tuned for in 2018) did not win a Countdown race.
Hight leads NHRA Power Rankings over the last six races with a 66.20, less than a point better than the 65.48 mark lodged by Force. Here’s why: Force drives the quickest Funny Car (3.988-average elapsed time over the last six races) and the second-most consistent (76.3 percent Success Rate). Force has also brought his reaction time average under control (despite all his games on the starting line, he has been below average in this category for the past few years). He is bit by a substandard 60-foot time, which is certainly due to the games on the starting line, but we’re likely talking about a wash unless we get to a track where lane choice is a critical factor.
I didn’t think Force had much of a shot at winning a title at the beginning of the season because of the difficulty of the class and his erratic nature as a driver. He was prone to having a great race followed by a poor race in the driver’s seat. That hasn’t been the case over the last six; and while the past is not a guarantee of the future, Force must be considered a favorite for the 2019 Funny Car title.
He has tough competition (Hight, Capps and Bob Tasca III are the three toughest challengers for that title, in my opinion), but hopefully John Force Racing has the font picked out for that 17X logo.