Ashley Force Gainesville preview

FORCE HOPES TO FOLLOW DAD'S LEAD IN TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER TITLE BID Castrol Driver Among Favorites at Gainesville Raceway GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On a racetrack on which her famous father has won seven times, Ashley Force this week launches...

FORCE HOPES TO FOLLOW DAD'S LEAD IN TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER TITLE BID
Castrol Driver Among Favorites at Gainesville Raceway

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On a racetrack on which her famous father has won seven times, Ashley Force this week launches her bid for the Division 2 (Southeast Division) Top Alcohol Dragster championship.

Ms. Force, 23-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force, will drive a Castrol- branded 275 mile-an-hour dragster starting Friday in a Lucas Sportsman Series race at Gainesville Raceway.

It's the first of four Lucas races in which she will compete in Division 2, a geographic region that encompasses the states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Those events are part of an ambitious schedule designed to deliver a national championship to Force and car owners Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows.

This week's race will be followed by Lucas Series stops in Bradenton, Fla., Atlanta and Reynolds, Ga. Ashley also will compete in 16 NHRA POWERade Series events as well as in additional Lucas Series races at Dallas, Texas, Englishtown, N.J., Sonoma, Calif., and Las Vegas, Nev.

A three-time NHRA national event winner, Ashley finished in the Top 10 in national points in each of her first two seasons in the Lucas Sportsman Series. She was the Division 4 (South Central Division) champion in 2004.

"This is the first time we've run a Division 2 points race," Ashley said, "but we've run the Gatornationals (the NHRA national event contested each March at Gainesville Raceway) a couple of times. It's a really good racetrack so we feel pretty good (about our chances)."

In fact, Ashley not only has "run" the Gatornationals, she's enjoyed considerable success, reaching the semifinals in 2004 and earning runner-up honors (to Aaron Olivarez) a year ago. Her father drove his Castrol GTX Funny Car to Gatornationals' victories in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2001.

A former high school cheerleader, Ashley began racing in Super Comp while attending California State University-Fullerton, from which she graduated in 2003 with a degree in communications.

The second oldest of Force's four daughters, she is one of the stars of Driving Force, a new real-life television series that will debut on A&E Network in June.

While Ashley's primary focus is on winning the Top Alcohol Dragster championship, she also will test this season in a Funny Car in hopes of moving up in classification next year to race against her dad.

In fact, she'll fly from Gainesville to Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday so that she can continue her Funny Car orientation in testing at Firebird International Raceway on Tuesday.

"Last year, I made a couple runs in dad's car," Ashley said, "but I was so scared that I'd mess it up because it wasn't like it was a show car, it was his real car and he was still racing for the championship.

"At Indy (during testing before the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the biggest race of the year), I brushed the wall and bent up the headers. I was just very uncomfortable. This year, I'm going to test in a car that was built for me and I'm really excited about it."

-jfr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Ashley Force