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Defending Gatornationals Winner John Force Heads Back to Gainesville

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2018) — Eight-time and defending NHRA Gatornationals winner John Force is heading to Gainesville, Fla. with hopes of getting a fresh start after what has been an, albeit eventful but, unexpectedly slow start to the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season.

“I am ready to get back to the race track. We have had some struggles at the first two races but we are figuring it out. My team has been going over my PEAK Chevrolet Funny Car and we’ll be ready. The good news is Robert stayed and tested after the last race and Courtney won in Phoenix. We all share information. I am ready to get back to the fans. It was good to have some time off but now the season is really going to get started.

After a hospital visit at each of the first two NHRA events, Force is looking forward to returning to the track he has eight wins at including last year when he defeated Jonnie Lindberg.

Photo credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

“Everything went good for me that day. (Jonnie Lindberg) is a good kid. He’s a Swedish kid and the fans love him. I like him personally. I was trying to hire him a while back but Jim Head got him,” said Force of his opponent, whom he was involved in a wreck with at the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

Gainesville Raceway is significant to the 16-time champ for more reasons than just wins. In 2007, John Force Racing’s Eric Medlen was involved in a catastrophic wreck during a test session and sustained injuries that would later take the young phenom’s life. The loss of Medlen was not in vain. Both Force and Medlen’s father, John Medlen, worked to make race cars safer. The results of which Force has benefited from both personally and as a team owner.

“I have a lot of wins there, eight Wallys, but Eric (Medlen) crashed there, we loved the kid. His dad, John Medlen, worked to build a better race car to save lives. We learn from our wrecks,” Force said. “That is why I am still in the sport at 68. I ain’t no hero all I am trying to do is build better race cars and take my knowledge that I have learned and make it better for these kids coming up. That is what it is all about, especially with my girls.”

At this year’s 49th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Force will race a fan designed PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Camaro SS. PEAK reached out to fans across the nation for creative designs. William Codianni, 22 from San Diego, was selected from a group of finalists to have his “American Made” themed design adorn Force’s hot rod.

Prior to the start of racing action, Force will be attending the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame banquet on the evening of Thursday, March 15 to see Gary Densham be inducted.

“Gary Densham is being honored at the Garlits Hall of Fame. We raced together in Australia and I think they knocked me out a few times down there. Excited to see him get in,” said Force.

Qualifying at the NHRA Gatornationals starts Friday with sessions at 2 and 5:45 p.m. and continues Saturday at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m.

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