RO caught up with 12-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force during one of his morning coffee breaks in Yorba Linda, Calif., and later after his three-car team completed testing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We found out how he's sorting out his own championship aspirations this season as he monitors rookie teammate Eric Medlen, the driving careers of daughters Ashley and Brittany, the progress of Ashley's Super Comp successor and his own emotions about Tony Pedregon's departure. The conversation wasn't complete without talk of crashing, sleeping in your car and worrying about money and sponsorships. But here -- read for yourselves

DRO: You must be relieved finally to make the Eric Medlen announcement.

FORCE: We just were happy finally to make the announcement about (Gary) Densham coming back before that, but we had to wait because (public relations representative) Dave Densmore just had back surgery and we needed him to write the press release.

DRO: Do you feel the pressure is off a little bit, though, now that Tony Pedregon's replacement has been named?

FORCE: Oh yeah. People were coming up to me and saying, "You really got the AT&T deal and you're lying to us." (Gary) Ormsby Junior would have been my No. 1 choice for a dragster, but we didn't get the deal for a dragster. I called the whole deal the Rubik's Cube. I was trying to turn it and twist it every which way.

DRO: So this process wasn't as easy as some people think?

FORCE: It seemed like every driver I interviewed had something somebody had a problem with. The crew chiefs didn't like him or there was somebody else they wanted or something. We interviewed seven or eight people, and I told everybody if they had
something to go ahead and take it. I wish I could have given everybody a job. I kept wondering, "Man, how am I going to put this thing together and keep everybody happy?"

DRO: The question is: Are you satisfied with your choice?

FORCE: I felt proud. I don't believe Eric will leave me.

DRO: You're upset still about Tony's departure?

FORCE: I would be fighting mad if he had gone over, say, to Schumacher's for more money. Except he went to his brother's. That's the reason I can have closure. He was caught in a dilemma. His brother needed him.

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