ASHLEY RACING FOR POINTS IN LUCAS SPORTSMAN SERIES Castrol Dragster is Track Record Holder at Infineon SONOMA, Calif. -- While her father and his Funny Car teammates regroup after surviving the annual Western Swing, a ...
ASHLEY RACING FOR POINTS IN LUCAS SPORTSMAN SERIES
Castrol Dragster is Track Record Holder at Infineon
SONOMA, Calif. -- While her father and his Funny Car teammates regroup after surviving the annual Western Swing, a three-races-in-three-weeks test that annually kicks off the second half of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Ashley Force gets a do-over this week on the same Infineon Raceway quarter mile on which she lost last week to Duane Shields.
After being ousted in the second round of the FRAM/Autolite Nationals and after a whirlwind trip to Indianapolis to participate in Thursday's fourth annual Women in the Winner's Circle luncheon, Ms. Force will be back behind the wheel of her track record-holding (275.00 mile per hour) Castrol dragster starting Friday.
Ninth in points in the NHRA's Lucas Oil Sportsman Series, the 23-year-old daughter of 13-time Funny Car Champion John Force has an opportunity to improve her position with a strong showing in this week's Division 7 points race.
In the often confusing system that crowns NHRA champions in Top Alcohol Dragster and seven other sportsman categories, drivers can earn points in only a limited number of national and regional events.
As a result, the last two times she went to the starting line in national event competition at Seattle, Wash., and last week at Sonoma Ashley did so knowing she could not add to her points total, having already exhausted her quota of national events.
This could be a get healthy week for the star of the real-life TV series Driving Force, however. While she has used up her points opportunities at the national level, she can earn points in this week's race and three more regional events.
"I hope we can move back up into the Top 5," she said. "I think that's a realistic goal. We race this week at Infineon, then we have two races in Georgia and we finish up at the points race at Las Vegas."
Fourth in points in 2004 when, as a rookie, she won the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and two other POWERade tour events, Ashley slipped to seventh last season as car owners Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows struggled to adapt to new fuel regulations.
She bounced back this season with national event victories in the ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., and the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta, Ga.
"Our schedule is a little different," she said. "We run a lot more national events than most of the other Top Alcohol Dragster teams (10 already this year) because dad wants me to know the racetracks (in advance of her move up to the Funny Car division either next year or the year after).
"The problem is that we run out of races we can claim (for points) pretty early. Like, we'll run five more national events this year but we can't earn points in any of them. The only races we can earn points in are Lucas Series races like this one."
Although her father won't return to the tour until next week's Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd, Minn., an event he has won 10 times, Ashley won't be alone in competition this week. She'll be joined by younger sisters, Brittany, 20, and Courtney, 18, who will drive matching Ford-powered Team Castrol/Brand Source dragsters in the Super Comp category.