John Force, the 63-year-old drag-racing legend with a record 15 funny car championships, said he barely can wait for this season to start Thursday in Pomona.
Force said he wants to prove "I'm still in championship form" as the National Hot Rod Assn.'s premier Mello Yello Series opens with the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway.
Force is the defending winner of the event, which runs through Sunday, but that was his only win last year and he finished a distant ninth in the title standings. Force's most recent championship came in 2010.
Irrepressible and loquacious as ever, Force told reporters on a recent conference call that "when I go home, try to be normal, I get so depressed" because he's away from the drag strip.