Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
On a favorite track, Force seeks first win
Nine months after suffering career-threatening injuries in the worst crash of his career, Force is back battling for one of the 10 spots in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, a playoff format that will crown 2008 POWERade champions in Funny Car and three other pro categories.
That said, the 14-time champion knows he still has work to do.
Although he's logged more quarter miles and sold more souvenirs at SMP than any other professional driver and although he's already won a POWERade tour event since coming back from last fall's devastating crash at the Texas Motorplex, Force's success in this week's second annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals is far from assured.
After starring for 10 seasons in the track's Night of Fire event, he returns this week with a losing record in the Summit Nationals. In fact, the 126-time tour winner gladly would trade the big sign on the grandstand for a smaller one on the Funny Car trophy to be awarded on Sunday.
Despite last year's No. 12 start and first round loss to Jack Beckman, Force credits a Monday test session following the race for turning around his 2007 season and landing him a berth in the inaugural Countdown.
"Last year, we turned our season around by staying over at
Mainly, though, Force just likes the track's atmosphere and the promotional philosophy of the family-owned and operated facility.
"I think the partnership with the NHRA (after years as a mainstay in the rival IHRA series) was brilliant for them to do, even in a tough economy, and I salute them for spending millions to upgrade their facility," he said. "It was necessary to bring it up to the high standards Bruton Smith is setting with his racetracks; to give us a stadium that we can all be proud to race in."Bader and I have spent hours talking about the future," Force said. "It's all about the growth of the sport. It's a racetrack we know because we've match-raced (there) for years. It wasn't like we were completely starting over. We went there knowing what was out there, so I'm excited to be back. The
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