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John Force Sweeps Epping With Funny Car Win

John Force named teammate Austin Prock as his successor on Sunday, though he gave no timeline for the change.

John Force had his game face on prior to the NHRA New England Nationals, where he won for the third time. (Photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish)

EPPING, N.H. – John Force spent most of the weekend at New England Dragway downplaying his successes and contemplating the end of his legendary run in the Funny Car ranks. He left the track holding his 157th Wally of his illustrious career.

The 75-year old went out and showed all the young drivers in the class why he is considered the greatest of all time by many, winning his third NHRA New England Nationals championship on the heels of Saturday’s Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge victory.

Force won everything except the top qualifying position this weekend in New Hampshire, and even that he narrowly missed when teammate Austin Prock took the top spot on a blistering Friday night run, relegating Force to the No. 2 position. On Sunday, however, it was Force defeating Prock in the Funny Car final to claim his second win of the season.

“Winning at New Hampshire is always special,” Force said. “The competition is tough, and these young drivers keep me on my toes.”

Force said he felt like lady luck was on his side on Sunday, as Prock had a cylinder go out during the run, which he thinks was the difference in picking up the win.

“I got a win here today,” he said. “Call it luck. Call it what you want. But I think (Prock) dropped a cylinder or he was going to run a 3.90 flat.”

Force said notching his third win at New England Dragway felt good, because it is a track that has been special to he and his wife Laurie.

“I came up here, and fell in love with this area,” he said. Epping was always special to me and my wife.”

John Force hoists the New England Nationals Wally after his second win of the season.

John Force won his 157th career Wally in Epping on Sunday, defeating teammate Austin Prock. (Photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish)

Epping win is bittersweet for Force

On a weekend where everything seemed to go his way, Force was uncharacteristically somber after the race. In his top end interview he embraced his teammate and announced that Prock will be taking over for him when he steps out of the driver’s seat. Then, after the race he repeatedly mentioned that his time behind the wheel is nearing a close, though he gave no timeline or further details.

“I’m down because I don’t like beating my teammate,” Force said. “He’s the future.”

He lauded Prock’s prowess behind the wheel and said he feels like he has to step aside to give some young blood in the sport the chance to step in.

“Robert Hight’s coming back,” he told the crowd of fans on the victory stage. “And I’m not trying to put nobody on a bummer, I’ll be at Bristol, but my time is pretty much up. Even though I won here, it’s hard. I’ve done my time. I’m not gonna quit tomorrow, don’t get me wrong, but now I’m starting the process.”

His voice broke with emotion as he shared his thoughts on passing the torch to Prock. He explained that he has seen many young, talented drivers come into the sport, and he feels like he needs to make room for them.

“I’m not what I used to be, and I know it now,” he said, voice shuttering. “And I’ve got to get some young kids in here who deserve the chance before it’s too late for them.”

As he begins looking to the future of his race team, he was also contemplative of his own future, going back and forth between his love for competing and his love for family.

“The world’s changing for me,” he said. “I ain’t gonna quit racing. This is what I do. But I also want to race with my grandkids.”

John Force took his PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet to New England and came out a winner.

John Force’s Funny Car stages before a qualifying round on Saturdady

Force commends his team and sponsors for success in New Hampshire and beyond

One thing John Force has never been shy about is promoting his sponsors, and that was no different on Sunday. After telling fans that he could not do what he does without the help of all the people who work on his and Prock’s Funny Cars and his daughter Brittany Force’s Top Fuel Dragster, he added kudos to his sponsors for keeping the team going.

“I’m grateful for my team and our partners at PEAK, AAA, Monster Energy and, Flav-R-Pac for their support,” he said. “This win shows that this old man still has some fight left in him. Cornwell Tools and Chevy, of course. We’re not done yet!”

The New England fans were rose in their seats each time Force turned on a win light throughout the day, getting louder and louder with each round win, and reaching a crescendo as he crossed the line ahead of Prock. After the race they gathered around the victory stage as well, saluting their hero. Force continued to deflect the praise to his team and sponsors.

“I live out here with you guys,” he told the assembled fans. “But I wouldn’t be here without the sponsors. I wouldn’t be here without this team of guys.”

The win allowed Force to move into second place in the Funny Car standings, while Prock took over the points lead. The team will face a quick turnaround as well, as the NHRA travels to Bristol, Tennessee, next weekend for its eighth stop on the season.

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