Ashley Force makes Funny Car history in Atlanta

Ashley Force makes Funny Car history in Atlanta

Ashley Force is the latest woman to write her name in the motorsports history books. Force became the first woman in NHRA history to win a Funny Car event and she did so by defeating her father, John, in the finals at the 28th annual Summit Racing...

Ashley Force is the latest woman to write her name in the motorsports history books. Force became the first woman in NHRA history to win a Funny Car event and she did so by defeating her father, John, in the finals at the 28th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, GA. Antron Brown, Mike Edwards and Andrew Hines also collected event wins.

Ashley Force.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.

"I guess the third time's a charm," said Force who reached her third straight final this weekend. "We just knew that if we kept getting to the finals, we'd eventually get [a win]. I kinda hated that it had to be against dad but I'm just happy to win an event.

The script couldn't have been written better. The Funny Car final matched John Force, going for his 1000th round win and 126th career event win, against his daughter Ashley who was going for history. As the two Ford Mustangs pulled up to the starting line, they were followed by not only the entire John Force Racing contingent but drivers and crew members from teams in every NHRA racing category. Fans in the stands used every last flashbulb in an attempt to capture history in the making.

When the tree lit green, John struck the tires, leaving him to watch Ashley sail down the quarter-mile with a 4.837 second run, the second quickest of the day, and blast her way at 320 mph into history as the first woman to win a Funny Car NHRA professional event title.

"Being a female, that's exciting for the record books and everything, but my team, we just wanted to get our first win. We went a whole year last year and the biggest win I had was off the track," joked Force who was voted AOL Sports' World's Hottest Athlete. "To finally get it done here in Atlanta, where I beat dad last year [in the first round] was special."

While her dad was disappointed not to have landed his 1,000 career round win in his 500th NHRA event, he was very proud of his daughter: "It's good for her; as a father, I'm proud of her. She did her job. She didn't do anything stupid on the starting line, go deep, didn't try to holeshot me, just did what she always does and that was most important, but really my focus was in my lane.

Ashley Force (left), John Force.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.

"I would have liked to have had that (milestone), 500 (races) and then backed it up with (the 1000 round wins), but it's also important in her career because wins, it took me a lot of years to win and it's good for her that she gets that win and gets it out of the way," added J.Force.

To get to her third straight final round, Ashley defeated Del Worsham, Jim Head and Ron Capps. John eliminated Mike Neff, Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca to advance to his first final since Reading last year. Ashley, who is also the first woman to lead the Funny Car point standings, now carries a 59 point lead for the championship race.

"It's an exciting time, you know, with Danica (Patrick) winning," Force continued. "There are a lot of women in different motor sports and we're getting our practice, we're getting our experience and we're making our way toward those wins. It's a good week for women and it's exciting for the fans to finally have a woman winner in Funny Car, but I know that it's the 10 guys on my team who got me to this point. I'm proud to be a female in the seat but it's those guys who got me here."

In Top Fuel, Antron Brown picked up his second win of the season, beating championship points leader Tony Schumacher in the final round. Brown had the better reaction time, .035 versus .060, and was able to hold his lead down the quarter-mile to beat Schumacher on a holeshot, running a 4.537 at 325 mph, versus Schumacher's 4.521.

"In the final round, we were racing Alan Johnson, Tony Schumacher, and the whole Army team over there, and they're five-time world champions, so you have to give it everything you've got," Brown shared. "As soon as I saw that thing just flicker yellow, I hit the pedal as quick as I could. I didn't feel any hiccups on the racetrack, so I knew it was on a good pass. I went through the traps, saw that win light on, and I just went ecstatic. I couldn't get out of that car quick enough. It just felt fantastic."

Antron Brown.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.

Brown is having an impressive first year in Top Fuel. This is his third straight final round appearance and second win. Together with his trophies from Pro Stock Motorcycle, Brown now has 18 career NHRA wins.

To reach the finals Brown defeated Dave Grubnic, Cory McClenathan and Bob Vandergriff Jr. Schumacher eliminated Morgan Lucas, Hillary Will and Rod Fuller in earlier rounds. Schumacher holds a 26-point lead over Brown in the PowerAde Championship race.

Mike Edwards grabbed his first Pro Stock win since 2006. In the final battle, Edwards met Jason Line. Both drivers managed identical 6.680 second runs, but Edwards' reaction time advantage, a .009 light to Line's .059, earned him the win.

"You just can't describe the feeling of winning one of these races in this class," shared Edwards. "There are so many good teams and it's been so long since I last won. It's just an unbelievable feeling to win one of these races."

"This is the second race on [that car], so to come here and win and run the way we ran here today is unbelievable. This might be the best-feeling win I've ever had because the whole team worked so hard and put in such a great effort. I'm just so proud of them. I'm just very fortunate to get the opportunity to drive this thing."

Mike Edwards.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.

Edwards eliminated Dave Northrop, Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin on his way to the final round. Line took out Todd Hoerner, Greg Anderson and Justin Humphreys in earlier rounds. Line now leads the Pro Stock championship points.

Andrew Hines came into race day with the Pro Stock Motorcycle pole after making four 6.9 second runs in qualifying. Hines made four more 6.9s on Sunday to capture his first Wally of the year. Hines defeated Chip Ellis in the final round with a 6.946 second run at 191 mph.

"Our motorcycle was flawless this weekend," Hines shared. "We left the same engine in it all weekend long. I can't say enough about what the guys have done with the engines back at the shop. People were saying that we should have dialed it at a 6.95 on the windscreen with some shoe polish, and it would have run it. It was just going down the track so smooth and so great all weekend. I've never had a motorcycle make that many runs in a row that were almost identical."

Hines defeated Michael Phillips, Matt Guidera and Craig Treble in earlier rounds. Ellis eliminated Junior Pippin, Shawn Gann and Angelle Sampey to reach the finals. Hines strong weekend earned him the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship points lead.

Teams head to St. Louis next weekend for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Shawn Gann , Craig Treble , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Allen Johnson , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Andrew Hines , Michael Phillips , Bob Vandergriff , Dave Northrop , Chip Ellis , Rod Fuller , Matt Guidera , Hillary Will , Justin Humphreys , Mike Edwards , Todd Hoerner , Mike Neff