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Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Pomona, CA
(November 9-12)

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Incoming points: 1. John Force, 1,520; 2. Ron Capps, 1,449 (-71); 3. Robert Hight, 1,447 (-73)
Thirteen-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force enters the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals with a comfortable 71-point edge on last year’s championship runner-up, Ron Capps, and a 73-point advantage over teammate Robert Hight. This NHRA.com POWERade Funny Car Championship Notebook will keep fans abreast of the latest developments, quotes, and stats during the season finale.
Saturday, November 11, 2006 (1:20 p.m.)

Funny Car qualifying session No. 3

After his aborted run yesterday, Force has to run early in the session and busts off a decent 4.74, 326.32 in the right lane alongside Jim Head, but it’s no improvement over Thursday’s 4.73.

The clouds have blocked the sun by the time that Capps pulls to the line in the left lane alongside teammate Gary Scelzi in the third to last pairing of the third session, and the Brut team takes advantage of the cooling conditions with a 4.725 at 328.86 to jump past Force and into fifth place.

Hight, in the right lane, alongside Jack Beckman, closes out the session, but his Ford loses power at three-quarter track.

Hight finishes the next-to-last session in fourth place, Capps in fifth, and Force down to seventh. If the ladder stays the same through the final session, Capps and Hight could potentially face one another in round two Sunday, with Force on the opposite side of the ladder.

Pointswise, Capps provisionally moves back in front of Hight.

Provisional adjusted points:

Force: 1,533

Capps: 1,463 (-70)

Hight: 1,462 (-71)

Quick Quotes:

Force: "It rattled the tires early and it was moving around downtrack. We were looking for a 4.70-flat there. We didn't get it done. [Mike] Ashley moved around us. I'm not sure where [Ron] Capps is now. Where are we? I'm telling you, it's getting crazy. Every point counts. I'm watching everything."

Capps: "I knew we had a good run in us. 'Ace' was even thinking about a high 4.60 there but he backed it down just a touch to make sure it would stick. Lane choice is big here and I'd say we'll have it for sure now so that's big. We're watching Robert [Hight] also because he's in the same points situation as we are. Second or third place really doesn't mater to me. I want the championship."

Hight: "We were trying for a 4.69. We wanted to have a back-up for the record if the conditions allow us to go for it tonight. It didn't work, but we'll be alright. We were quick of the session yesterday and we tuned from there. It just didn't hold it that time."

Saturday, November 11, 2006 (12:55 p.m.)

Hypothetically speaking ...

If this were 2007, how would the Countdown to the Championship have affected this year’s Funny Car championship scenarios?

Force would have entered Indy and led the Countdown to 8 cutoff, followed by Capps (-17), Tony Pedregon (-164), Eric Medlen (-193), Hight (-219), Tommy Johnson Jr. (-271), Gary Scelzi (-275), and Whit Bazemore (-382). Their points would have been reset in 10-point increments beginning with Force at 2,070.

Hight gathered the most points in the Indy-Dallas-Reading-Richmond segment leading to the second cut, the Countdown to 4, and would have entered the Las Vegas event in the points lead by 123 over Medlen. Also making the four-car cut would have been Force and Capps. Pedregon, Johnson, Scelzi, and Bazemore would have been eliminated from the Countdown race.

The points would have been reset at Vegas with Hight at 3,030, followed by Medlen at 3,020, Force at 3,010, and Capps at 3,000.

With Hight’s first-round exit and Force’s second-frame departure, Medlen’s Las Vegas semifinal would have pushed him into the points lead with 3,096, 28 points up on Hight, 29 on Force, and 64 on Capps.

Saturday, November 11, 2006 (11 a.m.)

Force Fast Fact #2

John Force has won at least one NHRA tour event for 20 consecutive seasons and two or more in each of the last 17 campaigns. He's won at least once at every track that hosts a race in the NHRA POWERade Series but has won most often at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona where he's won the Auto Club Finals six times and the season-opening Winternationals on four occasions. He also won the NHRA's 50th anniversary Nationals, a one-time only event contested at Pomona in 2001.

Friday, November 10, 2006 (4:30 p.m.)

Funny Car qualifying session No. 2

Hight is up early in the session after yesterday’s problem plagued run and from the left lane next to Tony Bartone improves dramatically with a 4.724 at 328 mph to take the No. 2 spot.

With the sun now behind the westside stands and the track cooling, Capps pulls to the line in the right lane next to Tony Pedregon but can only muster a 4,814, 316.08, well slower than yesterday’s effort.

Two pairs later, Force is up in the left lane, paired with current polesitter Del Worsham. Force smokes’ em early at 300 feet and coasts through to a 7.28, but the drama is in the other lane, where Worsham bangs the blower, brushes the wall, and ends up upside-down in the sandtrap, dirty but uninjured.

Hight finishes second, Force fourth, Capps eighth.

Hight provisionally gains seven points which would move him into second place. Force picks up five, and Capps one. Each driver also receives 10 points for making a qualifying pass.

Provisional adjusted points:

Force: 1,535

Hight: 1,464 (-71)

Capps: 1,460 (-75)

Quick Quotes:

Jimmy Prock: "We're screwed up down low. It didn't have a very good 60-foot time at all. I mean, we went 4.72 and our 60-foot time was .919. You want it to be .890 or quicker. There's a problem with the clutch and we're trying to figure it out. We're going for the record tomorrow. If the conditions are there, if it's cloudly and cool, we'll probably see it happen. The thing for us is that even if we set the record and win the race, we still need John to falter early. I mean, it can happen but it's not likely."

Force: "We just spun 'em right away. I guess we were going for the record. I don't know. You'd have to ask Coil what he was trying to do. It doesn't really matter because we spun the tires. We'll be alright."

Capps: "We wore out a lot of clutch on that run. The track just gobbled up everything we threw at it. The weather changes so fast here. A few oildowns later and the suns down and the set-up you put in the car isn't enough any more. It's record-setting conditions right now but I doubt anyone left the pits ready to run for the record. You can adjust some things in the staging lanes but it's more fine-tuning. Once you leave the house with a nine-iron, all you can do is try to hit it harder."

Friday, November 10, 2006 (9:35 a.m.)

Force Fast Fact #1

Unless he wins the Auto Club NHRA Finals, John Force will end the 2006 season with just two tour victories, his fewest since 1989, when he won but a single event, in Reading. This year, Force has won in Chicago, beating teammate Robert Hight in the final, and in Memphis.

Should Force win the championship but not the race, it also would mark the fewest wins by a champion since Mark Oswald won the championship in 1984 with just two victories, in Columbus and Brainerd.

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