This Week in Ford Racing February 4, 2010 Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car, is coming off of her best season yet in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car Division, finishing number two in the...
This Week in Ford Racing
February 4, 2010
Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car, is coming off of her best season yet in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car Division, finishing number two in the points behind teammate and brother-in-law Robert Hight. Force Hood talks about the changes to John Force Racing and preparing for the 50th Annual NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
HOW WAS TESTING IN PHOENIX? WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR 2010? "We had a really good test session. We were out there for four or five days and made some good runs. It's just a great feeling for everyone. Not just the driver, but the crew chiefs and the crew to get back, familiarized with everything and comfortable with the car and everything that you do. Fortunately, we didn't have too many big changes to the car. A couple of different guys had come over from one of our other teams, but basically the same group. That's so we felt really confident in testing. We had had those days out there, and we feel ready to go. We're excited for Pomona. We feel like we're going to have a strong competitive car again this year, and we're excited."
WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMPETITION YOU ARE GOING TO SEE THIS YEAR? "I believe in Funny Car the competition has gotten so close. That's why the fans love to see the Funny Car category. There are so many different teams, every pair that goes up, there is a car that can run a great time. There is nobody really dominating anything. So it's exciting to watch, and obviously, it's exciting to be a part of that. As a newer driver it's neat that I may not have as much experience as some of the other teams out there, but my car has the consistency and ability to run with people, some of which, including my father, have been running longer than I've been alive. That's the excitement about it. It seems equal across the board. That is going to be the toughest challenge though. It doesn't matter where you qualify, if you're number one or if you're 16 you can be knocked right out of the race. So we all need to be on our game, and every tiny detail will count. The positive side to that is if you do have ups and downs, as Robert [Hight] showed last year, as long as you can get your stuff figured out in time for the Countdown and get your ducks in a row, you don't lose that hope of chasing that championship if you do have a few bumps along the way early in the season. But you better get your stuff together by the end of the season, because you don't want to have any struggles there, or you're definitely out of the game."
NOW THAT YOUR TEAM HAS THREE CARS, IS THAT GOING TO HELP YOU GUYS OUT? HOW DOES THAT IMPACT YOUR SEASON? "Yeah, it's going to be weird. The fortunate thing is that we still have all the people. Some of dad's team had decided not to stay on this year because our teams have all moved out to Indy. So some of the guys that were from California chose not to stay on. But fortunately a lot of [Mike] Neff's guys wanted to stay on and we were able to find places for them. I got a couple new guys on my team. So it all worked out. We didn't have to lose anybody, even though we won't have that fourth team this year, we still have all the people there that want to stay with us and we were able to make that happen. That was the biggest concern, we don't want to lose these really talented guys that have become a part of our racing family. Neff's going to be over helping Austin [Coil] and Bernie [Fedderly] with dad's car, John Medlen is over on with Jimmy [Prock]. So we've been able to keep everybody together, which is our goal. I think that will make our three teams much stronger. It will probably be more entertaining, more opinions, more everything, but we're all in there together. The crew chiefs can all work together, and hopefully have three strong, very competitive cars for the 2010 season. Another benefit of this is running into your own teammates running each other, and that was a challenge. I ran Mike in the finals in Pomona, which is actually a good thing. We love to run our own teammates in the final. Other than in the final, you never want to run your own teammate, but you're going to run into each other. Hopefully this year, we'd rather be beating the competition in the other camps than our own camp. So hopefully we cannot run each other as much as the three teams and hopefully get one of these three teams in the championship spot again."
WHAT DOES RACING AT THE WINTERNATIONALS MEAN TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY? "Pomona has always been our home track. I live 20 minutes away from it. So we've always attended the first race of the year and the final race of the year since I was born, probably. It's just a huge event. The first race of the year kicks off everything. Everybody's new out there, new sponsors, new fans, it's the race you want to do well out and start your year strong. It definitely gives you a great confidence boost if you are able to start your season on such a great note. And I think it's going to be a big deal. I know that NHRA is promoting a lot and doing a lot of special events and activities. It's going to be exciting. I hope we can do well there. It is a tough one to win because you are coming back after a few months off. You might have a change in crew members or changes with your car, but we're all out there. That's what's on everyone's mind in their off-season is to go out and win that race, especially this year. It's such a special one, it's going to be cool.
DO YOU HAVE TO WORK EXTRA HARD ON YOUR FOCUS IN POMONA SINCE THIS IS YOUR HOME TRACK? "For Pomona, for any driver and any team when you go to your home race, it's a great race yet it can be the toughest race because everybody shows up: Your family, your friends, your sponsors. We have a lot of sponsors that are located out here, so we have a lot of customers and people that will come to the Pomona event. Then you have people you haven't seen in forever. Old teachers, and kids you don't even recognize from grade school that all come out. So it can be a little overwhelming. I know there have been times in the past, my first year probably the most in Funny Car, when I just had to go sit down in a dark corner and go, 'Holy cow, how am I going to get through this weekend and do my job good with so many people around?' But now that I've gotten a little more used to it, and it's not so overwhelming for me, it's fun. It's exciting to see people. They understand you can't stop and talk for half an hour. They're there with their friends or their family to see you do your thing and to be able to say hello, catch up when you can maybe later in the day. But they're very understanding that you have a job to do. This is our workplace. It's exciting to know those people are out there rooting you on. You have such support. You can really feel that in your camp and when you go up to make your run. You know you have a lot of people rooting you on. It is a little crazy at times, but you kind of learn to deal with that."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE NEW CHASSIS AND THE BOSS 500 MOTOR? "We have the new 2010 Ford Mustang bodies on which we just tried out in testing and will be running in. I love it. My vision, I can see. It's amazing I didn't notice it before in the older style car, but now that I have the new body it's like, oh, my gosh, I can see so much more. Not that you need to see all that much more. I don't need to look at the guy next to me, but your vision has definitely opened up as far as being able to see out of these Funny Cars. It is a process to get everything. With the four teams we had last year, just getting everybody - you don't just need the stuff in your car that you're running down the track. You also need a spare, you know, a spare everything if something goes wrong. You need back-up stuff. It's been a process getting everything caught up. Getting extras for each team. But that's part of it. You know, hopefully we can get ourselves all caught up. As far as the difference that I see, it hasn't affected me at all except the vision is better, I think, in the new bodies, which is really exciting."
-source: ford racing