JOHN FORCE IS NOT DONE, NOT BY A LONGSHOT
John Force doesn’t enjoy being called the GOAT (Greatest of all Time) in fact, he jokingly prefers comparisons to another hoofed mammal, but the facts here don’t lie. Just days before his 73rd birthday, Force drove to a clean sweep of the Charlotte race when he qualified No. 1 and then drove his Peak Blu Def Camaro to victory, beating a tough quad that included Robert Hight, Ron Capps and upstart Mike McIntire.
Force’s career numbers are staggering, and they will almost certainly never be equaled. He’s now appeared in 815 NHRA national events, he’s now won 155 times and appeared in 262 finals. His round-win record is 1,394 and 634, meaning he wins 68% of the time he goes to the starting line. Oh, and during the Charlotte event, he hinted at a three-year contract extension.
MIKE SALINAS AND ROB FLYNN MAKE A PRETTY GOOD TEAM
Those who expected to see Mike Salinas and the Scrappers team take a step backwards when tuners Alan Johnson and Brian Husen moved on to the Kalitta Motorsports team can now go ahead and admit they were wrong after Salinas won for the second time in six events this season.
Salinas openly admits he’s not the easiest guy to work for, but he and Rob Flynn share the same outwardly calm demeanor, and so far, it seems they were made for each other. With an 11-4 record so far this season, to go along with solid qualifying results, there’s no reason to think that Salinas won’t be battling for the Camping World championship once the playoffs start in September.
EVERY (UNDER) DOG HAS HIS DAY
We’ve already seen a number of standout performances by underdogs and independent teams this season, most notably the Gainesville Top Fuel final featuring Trip Tatum and Doug Foley as well as Bobby Bode’s runner-up in Funny Car a week ago. Now, Cameron Ferre and Mike McIntire can be added to that list after they each made it to the final in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, in Charlotte. Ferre, wheeling the Paton family dragster, enjoyed his best day as a Pro when he finished second to Mike Salinas in a final quad that also included Josh Hart and Spencer Massey.
McIntire delivered solid runs of 3.96 and 4.03 on race day from his McAttack entry that allowed him to advance to the final quad. McIntire smoked the tires in the final and finished behind John Force and Robert Hight, but the progress of his team family-run has been evident.
STEVE JOHNSON WON’T BACK DOWN
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Steve Johnson is both competitive and outspoken, traits that frustrate his opponents in equal measure. Now that he’s got arguably the best bike in the class, Johnson isn’t afraid to make his feelings known. Some of his comments in the zMax Dragway media center raised a few eyebrows, but the bulk of the attention should really be placed on his on-track performance, which has been particularly noteworthy.
Johnson lost in the second round of the season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, and that’s the last time his time slip didn’t saw the word “win” at the bottom. Johnson won the final NHRA SpringNationals in Houston and then went to Charlotte and won the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals seven days later and did so with some of the quickest runs of his long career. He’s now the championship leader and has an honest-to-goodness shot at winning a title for perhaps the first time.
PRO MOD AND FACTORY STOCK OFFER GREAT RACING AND PARITY
The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown both utilized the four-wide format, and both classes delivered an outstanding show for the fans. In Pro Mod, there are five accepted power adders in NHRA Pro Mod (turbocharger, conventional supercharger, nitrous, screw supercharger, and centrifugal supercharger), and four of them were represented in the final round, a convincing argument for the class’ parity. In the end, Kris Thorne won his second event to start the season, but it was far from easy. Thorne defeated Lyle Barnett, and Rickie Smith and Stan Shelton were semifinalists.
The Factory Stock crowd raced four-wide for the first time and nearly all of the drivers were quick to adapt. There is also parity in that class as a Dodge qualified No. 1, but the final featured three Chevrolet COPO Camaro entries and a lone Ford Cobra Jet Mustang driven by eventual winner Bill Skillman.