Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sports

NHRA's Force losing Ford, might move to Top Fuel

SEATTLE — Because of Ford's impending departure as an NHRA manufacturer, drag racing's most iconic name might be moving on.

The question is, in which direction?

John Force, who owns every NHRA record as a Funny Car racer — 15 championships, 135 event wins, 220 final appearances — might move to the Top Fuel class when Ford departs after the 2014 season, espn.com reported.

"I don't want to do that," Force told the website. "Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein both did it later in their careers. I want to stay in a Funny Car, but I may have to adjust my business to make it work. I have to address the future."

Force, 64, is fourth in Funny Car points. His daughters — Ashley Force Hood, who retired to start a family; Courtney (Funny Car) and Brittany (Top Fuel) — have followed him into the driver's seat.

Ford announced it is pulling back from the top rungs in the NHRA and said it wants to focus more on grass-roots efforts, director of Ford Racing Jamie Allison said.

"First of all, I want to thank Ford," Force told espn.com. "I've got one more year with them, and I'm going to do my job. I thought they were going to be here forever."

The team he owns, John Force Racing, has won 17 Funny Car titles.

In qualifying for today's Northwest Nationals, Top Fuel points leader Shawn Langdon broke the Pacific Raceways record with a run of 3.765 seconds at 320.58 mph. David Grubnic ran an identical 3.765 at 317.57, but Langdon stayed in the top spot because of his faster speed. Jack Beckman topped Funny Car, and Mike Edwards led Pro Stock.

Nationwide: Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski overcame a 1,000-mile flight, a pit road violation and an overheating engine to win the US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Keselowski, who flew in from Long Pond, Pa., where he is running in today's Sprint Cup race, took control with 35 laps and defeated Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish by 0.536 seconds. Keselowski was sent to the back of the lead-lap cars after a tire flew outside his team's pit box during an early stop.

Trucks: Ryan Blaney, 19, earned his first series victory by pouncing on a green-white-checkered restart to win the Pocono Mountains 125 in Long Pond, Pa. Miguel Paludo finished second, and German Quiroga, who led going into the last restart, was third.

IndyCar: Defending series champ Ryan Hunter-Reay earned the pole for today's Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in Lexington at 124.385 mph. Points leader Helio Castroneves (122.74) starts 15th. St. Petersburg residents Tristan Vautier (11th) and Sebastien Bourdais (14th) also qualified in the middle of the pack.

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