John Force Looking For Return To Form

John Force is hoping a return to Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway will lead to a return to form for the former NHRA Funny Car champion. (NHRA Photo)
John Force is hoping a return to Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway will lead to a return to form for the former NHRA Funny Car champion. (NHRA Photo)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Looking to turn around his 2013 season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force is hoping for the ultimate Father’s Day present at legendary Bristol Dragway.

Force is currently 10th in points and has yet to make a finals appearance through nine races in what has already been a highly-competitive 2013 Funny Car season.

A three-time winner at the storied track, Force will get an opportunity to make it four at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 14-16 at Bristol Dragway. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.

With his two daughters also competing at the event, Brittany in Top Fuel and Courtney in Funny Car, the Father’s Day weekend in Bristol will be extra-special for the legendary Force.

But Force is also hoping the track that has provided numerous special moments in his career has room for one more.

After spending the last two seasons behind the wheel driving the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, which included a four-win, third-place finish in 2012, Mike Neff returned solely to his crew chief role for Force’s 8,000-horsepower Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in 2013.

The duo had hoped to recreate the magic of 2010 when Forced raced to an incredible six wins and 11 finals appearances en route to his 15th Funny Car championship. It hasn’t happened thus far, however, as Force has only advanced past the second round once in 2013.

But with a talented crew headed by Neff, Force, who was the No. 1 qualifier in Topeka last month and has shown signs of improvement, is confident that things will turn around soon.

“We’ve been struggling,” Force admitted. “You know you can’t just go back to how it was. We’re not running the car we ran in 2010 (when he and Neff collaborated on his 15th championship). The technology changes and, at the end of the day, you’ve gotta change with it. We’ll figure it out and get ourselves back in the hunt.”

It won’t be easy in a loaded Funny Car field that has already boasted five different event winners and 10 different finalists through nine events.

But that list doesn’t include Force, who has won an NHRA-best 134 events and is an inductee in both the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America and International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

“Nobody’s gonna cut you any slack because you’re in the Hall of Fame – and I wouldn’t want them to. But I still believe I can win and as long as that’s true, I’m gonna stay out here. I love it,” Force said. “I love driving my hot rod, being out here with my girls and with Robert (son-in-law Robert Hight).”

Despite his struggles, Force has still enjoyed a 2013 season that included Brittany’s debut in Top Fuel, becoming the first Force to race in the Top Fuel ranks, and Courtney’s strong start in her Traxxas Ford Mustang.