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Denver whips up deliciously weird race

MORRISON, Colo. -- What distinguishes a Denver omelet are ham and cheese. And folded into the hot Denver day of final eliminations at the July 20 Mopar Mile-High Nationals was plenty of that.
Top Fuel winner Spencer Massey mugged for photographers after earning his third victory of the year, making silly faces, sticking out his tongue, and patting the butterflies  on the supercharger of the Don Schumacher-owned FRAM-Prestone Dragster.
Headed into his sponsor's race, the FRAM-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway in California Wine Country near Sonoma, , Massey has what he calls a "full head of steam."
He copied points leader Del Worsham by securing a spot in the 10-driver Countdown to the Championship field and loosened Worsham's grip on the so-called "regular-season" title to just 68 points.
He chattered about how he wants to be leading the class when the playoff begins in September at Charlotte -- "or No. 2 . . . Or maybe even 3, I guess would be OK."
Insisting "I've got a long way to go" and "I'm the new guy," Massey downplayed denying seven-time champion and Don Schumacher Racing mate Tony Schumacher his first victory in 12 races.
"He's Tony Schumacher. He's the man!" Massey said, respectfully but happily noting that he's beating guys who are the best" and saying, "we're having the time of our lives."
John Force, who often supplies much of the ham and cheese at National Hot Rod Association races, has been experiencing one of the more frustrating times of his life. But the 16-time Funny Car champion broke his winless streak, benefiting from Matt Hagan's red-light foul in the final round.
Though he kept his usually meandering monologue to a minimum, Force still served plenty of ham to the fans hungry for his hilarity and his heroics.
He easily could have satisfied them simply by winning after exactly half a season of futility -- a day after the engine in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang detonated in qualifying and launched the car body flipping high into the thin Rocky Mountain air. But every Force feat has a story.
This one goes back to early June, when Robert High -- his son-in-law, teammate, and president of John Force racing -- spoke frankly to him.
"I made Robert Hight president of the company because he's smart," Force said. He told me, 'There's nothing wrong with you car. It's you. you’re not focused.' "
Force shot back, "How do you know?"
"Because I know," Hight said. "You taught me. You taught me to live it, and you're not living it. You need to get your head back into the game."
With his 132nd Wally trophy in hand, Force said, "I'm back in the game. I ain't sayin' I'll win, but I'm back in the game. I have my head in the race car."
Even points leader Mike Neff, who tuned him to last year's championship and is driving the twin Castrol Mustang this year during Ashley Force Hood's maternity leave, challenged him in eliminations.
Just before their quarterfinal match-up, Neff said to Force, "Get out there and fight like you want it. Kick my butt if you can." Then, alluding to Force's lackluster performance, he said, "You're better than that."
That, too, got Force's attention.
"Is that what the team thinks of me because I'm so wound up with so many projects?" he asked. "I've got a lot on my plate."
He does.
He has a half-dozen corporations with "John Force" branding, a television series in the works, his John Force Traveling Road Show to preach the drag-racing gospel, his museum, sponsor appearances, teaching youngest daughter Courtney to drive a nitro Funny Car -- oh . . . and his own Funny Car and delivering outstanding performances to all his sponsors.
And if he's lucky, on his plate just might be a delicious, fluffy Denver omelet.

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