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May the Force be with him: Stats as John Force turns 68

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Cool story here from John Force Racing as its fearless leader turns 68 years old today.

The release is below:

John Force celebrates his 68th birthday today. In honor of this birthday, here are some statistics and milestones related to Force and the No. 68.

  • Force’s 68th race (event appearance) came September 14, 1986, at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.
  • The 68th race in which Force qualified for and raced came July 26, 1987, at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colo. Force made the final but dropped the matchup against Kenny Bernstein.
  • Force’s 68th elimination round victory came June 7, 1987, at Sanair Super Speedway in St.-Pie, Quebec, Canada. The victory was a result of a bye run. More exciting for Force later in the day, he earned his first career Funny Car victory, topping Ed McCulloch (whose son Jason is now a co-crew chief on Force’s PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS).
  • Force’s 68th final round came October 30, 1994, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., against Cruz Pedregon, whom he defeated. Force has competed in 248 finals, an NHRA record.
  • Force’s 68th victory came May 17, 1998, at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. He defeated Jim Epler. Force has 148 victories, an NHRA record.
  • Force’s 68th No. 1 came in the 1996 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. He ended up winning the race later that weekend against Al Hofmann. Force has earned the No. 1 qualifying position 155 times in his career, an NHRA record.
  • Force set the low elapsed time for a weekend for the 68th time of his career April 26, 1998, in Richmond, Va. He ran 4.887 seconds on the quarter-mile. He has set the low ET for an event 151 times in his career, an NHRA record.
  • Force set the top event speed for a weekend for the 68th time of his career April 16, 2000, at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. He turned in a speed of 319.98 mph. Force has set the top speed for an event 133 times in his career.
  • Force’s 68th different opponent was Paula Martin, whom he faced and defeated August 18, 1991, in the first round at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
  • The 68th different opponent Force defeated was Gary Clapshaw, in a first-round matchup August 2, 1992, at Sonoma Raceway in California.
  • Force’s 68th matchup against 2016 and reigning NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps came in a semifinals victory at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H., on June 23, 2013.
  • Force’s 68th elimination round matchup against a JFR teammate came November 14, 2004, against Eric Medlen at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
  • Force’s 68th elimination victory over a teammate came February 14, 2010, in a quarterfinals matchup against Robert Hight at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Force went on to win the race, besting Capps in the finals.
  • If Force makes it to this weekend’s finals in the NHRA Southern Nationals, it means he will have 68 elimination round victories at Atlanta Dragway. A 69th round win at the track this weekend would give him his 149th victory.
  • Force currently has 68 elimination round victories against his most common opponent, Cruz Pedregon. He has faced Pedregon 101 times during his career

And some bonus stats:

  • Force has raced on his birthday three times – 1997 in Dallas, Texas; 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia; and 2008 in Madison, Ill. His best finish was the 1997 race, when he reached the finals but lost to Randy Anderson.
  • Despite not winning either the 1997 or 2008 races on his birthday, he did establish major milestones for himself and in the NHRA ranks. He scored his 500th round victory in 1997 against Ray Higley in the second round, and his 1,000th round victory in 2008 against Ron Capps in the first round.
  • If Force wins at Atlanta, he will extend his record as the oldest driver to win an NHRA Funny Car race. He reset the mark earlier this year at Gainesville, at 67 years, 10 months, 15 days.

Christopher Bell wins third straight Chili Bowl

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Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the final lap of the 55-lap A-Feature to win the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Bell is only the second driver in event history to win three consecutive Golden Drillers, joining Kevin Swindell who holds the record with four.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to win the Chili Bowl,” Bell said at ChiliBowl.com. “To do it three straight times is just unbelievable, but man, I don’t even care about three straight. What about that race? I don’t think I’ve ever really been a part of a last lap race like that, so I’m just glad that thing came out in the end.”

As the white flag waved on his eighth appearance in Saturday’s main event, it seemed Larson was finally going to walk away with his first Golden Driller. This was closest he’s been to the win.

Larson took the lead from Logan Seavey on Lap 21 after a five-lap hot pursuit. Bell moved into second for the first time on Lap 27 but a caution forced him back to third as the field realigned to the last completed lap.

On Lap 33, Bell passed Seavey again for second before another caution reset the field. On the next restart Bell road the rim diving to the hub in Turns 3 and 4. With Larson in sight, Bell started to think about where he was going to put his third trophy.

The final caution flag of the night waved with 20 to go to set up the Bell vs. Larson shootout fans had been waiting for since Larson retired early from the race last year. Larson pulled away on the highline in Turns 1 and 2. He switched to the low in 3 and 4.

With five laps to go Larson hit traffic. That gave Bell the opportunity to close the gap. With two to go Bell was on top of Larson and challenging for the lead. On the final lap Bell passed Larson in Turn 2 as they bumped tires. Glued together through the final pair of turns, they touched twice more before Bell pulled away on the final stretch.

The action wasn’t over, however. Bell wound up on his lid following the win. His donuts got a little out of control and he rolled his midget.

Justin Grant took third by passing Brady Bacon on Lap 36. Bacon followed for fourth with Zach Daum in tow to complete the top five.

Tyler Courtney was the hard charger of the night finishing sixth after starting in 22nd. Brad Sweet and CJ Leary finished seventh and eighth.

Seavey was able to hold onto third until late in the race but ultimately the pole sitter who led the first 20 laps faded to ninth.

Tanner Thorson rounded out the top ten.

Friday’s Main Event

1. Christopher Bell
2. Kyle Larson
3. Justin Grant
4. Brady Bacon
5. Zach Daum
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Brad Sweet
8. CJ Leary
9. Logan Seavey
10. Tanner Thorson
11. Danny Stratton
12. Jonathan Beason
13. Tucker Klaasmeyer
14. Colby Copeland
15. Rico Abreu
16. Michael Faccinto
17. Chad Boat
18. David Gravel
19. Cole Bodine
20. Robert Dalby
21. Jake Neuman
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Shane Golobic
24. Sean McClelland