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John Force powers down Gainesville Raceway in his Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. (NHRA photo)

John Force: ‘I Want No. 17’

After winning 16 Funny Car championships and 155 national events, one might question what has kept 74-year-old John Force in the game for so long.

Ahead of the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at the In-Out-Burger Pomona (Calif.) Dragstrip on March 22-24, Force provided an answer.

“We’re in the run for the title and I want (championship) No. 17. I may not yell and scream it, I’ve won so many, but I want to keep winning,” Force said in a John Force Racing press release on Wednesday.

He is ranked seventh in the Funny Car standings after making a quarterfinal exit during the season-opening Gatornationals on March 10. Force also finished seventh in points last year after failing to win a race for the first time in several seasons.

That’s not a pattern the Funny Car legend plans to repeat this season.

“I want to win with (crew chief) Daniel Hood and with my team,” Force said, shifting his focus to the upcoming weekend. “(Pomona is) just the place to be.”

Force is currently riding a 38-race winless streak.

However, if there’s one place where he knows how to get it done, it’s Pomona. In 45 starts at the Winternationals, Force has collected seven wins and 10 No. 1 qualifier awards.

“Pomona is personal to me,” Force explained. “My love for Pomona goes back to the ‘60s, when I was driving a truck. I went out and looked through the fence to watch the starting line and watch the people racing.

“Then in 1974-75, I started running the local tracks. But Pomona was the big ball field. That was our Dodger Stadium, that’s where we wanted to be. And now here I am. So coming home to it, there’s a lot of memories, I won a lot of races and won championships.”

Quite fittingly, the Southern California native is the winningest driver at the Pomona drag strip.

In addition to his seven victories at the Winternationals, he also owns eight Wallys from the World Finals and one from the 2001 running of NHRA’s 50th Anniversary Nationals.

Force added, “You walked away from some bad crashes, but it’s just personal. I’m looking for another win and I’m going to try to get it done here. Every race counts, but I’m excited to be back home and be racing with family.”

He’ll be behind the wheel of the PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS when qualifying begins on Friday.