John Force on verge of earning second Western Swing sweep in NHRA history

(Photos courtesy NHRA)

John Force is on the verge of adding to his long list of historical accomplishments and achievements this weekend in suburban Seattle.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion is seeking to sweep the sport’s “Western Swing” – back-to-back-to-back races for the second time in his career. No other Funny Car driver has ever won the Swing other than Force.

Force has already won the first two legs of the swing: Denver and Sonoma. If he reaches and wins this Sunday’s final round of the NHRA Nationals, he’ll mirror the accomplishment he achieved by sweeping the Swing in 1994.

2016_John_Force headshot

And given his past success at Seattle, the numbers and odds would appear to be in his favor of pulling off the sweep this weekend:

  • Of Force’s 145 national event wins, eight have come at this weekend’s host track, Pacific Raceways, in Kent, Washington.
  • Force has a career round record of 55-19 there.
  • He’s reached the final round at Seattle 10 times, winning eight.
  • His last win at Seattle was 2014, when he qualified No. 1 and defeated long-time friend Gary Densham in the final round.
  • Has qualified No. 1 six times and in the top four 14 times at Seattle.
  • His first race at Seattle was 37 years ago in 1979, shortly after Force turned 30. He’s now 67.
  • Force has won at least two races in a row 28 times, including his most recent two races.
  • He’s won three races in a row 12 times (the last time in 2013 to clinch his 16th and most recent Funny Car championship), four in a row twice and a record five straight in 1993.
  • Force almost repeated the Western Swing sweep in 2003, winning at Denver and Seattle, but lost in the semifinals at Sonoma.

Force spoke about the potential of setting NHRA history for the second time in his career. Here are some excerpts of his comments:

Q) How satisfying is this two-race winning streak?

Force: “It is exciting. … I cried a lot about hard times but it takes money to make this game. I’m working with the right people, like Mike Neff and Alan Johnson who are in charge of my Funny Car and Top Fuel programs. Mentally, it helps to work with my (team) president (and son-in-law) Robert Hight as we put the band back together so to speak and it is starting to show, it is starting to turn the corner.

“In our races too, luck is a big part of the game. … If you look at the last two weekends the cars have gone out, Robert and Courtney (Force) are because of me. We all have the same tune-up and we are all helping each other. Its hurts us, but helps me, but in the end we are all part of the same team.”

Q) Your crew chief, Jon Schaffer, is only 27 years old. Plus, the majority of your team is on the young side. How do you keep them focused and remain hungry heading to Seattle?

Force: “Schaffer, along with Nick Casertano are very important, they manage those guys and we talked about it. Let the crew have a dinner, have some drinks on Sunday but the preparation they make at these tracks is what will make us try to win the sweep in Seattle.

“And that is what we said after Denver going into Sonoma, keep a lid on them. The road is tough on these kids and I have a young team. We have seen mistakes like any team out here but we have addressed it. We will be ready for Seattle with them.”

Q) What do you feel your chances are going into Seattle?

Force: “I’m going in with three Funny Cars that is going to try to defend it and if any of us get a win, the win is what is crucial. Do I want to get the Swing? Without a doubt.

“I talked with (former crew chief) Austin Coil this morning and he was congratulating me. Said I drove (at Sonoma) like I drive 20 years ago when we started beating them and when we were first winning. He can see it because he taught me.

“My chances to win the Swing? As good as anybody else’s. I like Seattle, good air, good racetrack. The fans are great, let’s see if we can go give them a show. That is what we are trying to do. I want to win championships.

“… To win the Swing a lot comes into play. The pressure comes in from the media and the fans. Then you can’t let your mindset change. You have to be able to run with the pack. Keep your mindset right and you need destiny.”

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Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series

After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi