Bristol: John Force Racing Saturday notes

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD HOLDS ONTO NO. 1 AT BRISTOL BRISTOL, TN --- Two years ago Ashley Force Hood was on the outside looking in on race day. Today at Bristol Dragway she will enter the 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals eliminations from the...

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD HOLDS ONTO NO. 1 AT BRISTOL

BRISTOL, TN --- Two years ago Ashley Force Hood was on the outside looking in on race day. Today at Bristol Dragway she will enter the 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals eliminations from the No. 1 qualifying spot and loaded with confidence.

"It is satisfying (getting No. 1 spot). It just shows you how things can turn around. One day can be the worst day and the next day could be the greatest. As much as some people feel there are certain tracks you will struggle at and others you will be good at sometimes I see a pattern and sometimes not so much," said Force Hood. "We seem to do better at Atlanta and there are other tracks like Bristol where we have struggled. This year we have been able to overcome that and do better. There is always hope that you will do better. You have just as good a chance as anyone else."

This is Ashley's fifth No. 1 and second in three races. She has never won from No. 1 but has gone to the finals the last two times she has started on the pole (Memphis, 2008, and Atlanta, 2009). She will race Andy Kelley in the first round. They have never raced against each other. This is the 207th Funny Car No. 1 for John Force Racing, Inc.

Ashley will lead two other John Force Racing Mustangs into eliminations. Teammate Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang will miss the show for the first time in 28 races. The perennial championship contender ran the 14th quickest elapsed time yesterday but only the twelve quickest times carried over to Saturday. His time of 4.24 would have been quick enough to land him in the 14th qualifying position under the former qualifying system.

Today Hight's best effort of 5.229, 229.98 mph was not quick enough to crack the top sixteen.

Hight a true warrior on the race track has not lost any determination or confidence in his team. He also offered a bold prediction from the top end after his final attempt to race into the field.

"We had some things go wrong. We also didn't do a good job. This wasn't a real indication of how good this team is. We have been in the fight for the championship every year. Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools, BrandSource they don't pay us to perform like this. We have to get our act together. We will. I have a great team behind me. I wouldn't trade them for anyone. We are going to get through this. We will be in contention for this championship later on I promise," said Hight who fell to 12th in the Full Throttle point standings.

Joining Ashley Force Hood in competition tomorrow will be her father and 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. For the second race in a row Force will square off with veteran Jack Beckman. Force has a career record of 5-7 versus Beckman but did defeat him in the first round of the St. Louis race. Force will have lane choice over Beckman.

Second year driver Mike Neff will have a tough match-up when he pulls up beside 2008 NHRA Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon. Neff has never defeated Pedregon in three attempts. In his only appearance at Bristol Dragway Neff did race to the finals so something will have to give tomorrow.

"There are a lot different conditions out there than last year. Last night was pretty good, today is definitely tricky. Lots of the guys are having a hard time. Glad we were able to get it down there. I think it might have put a cylinder out which is why it didn't run any better. It is a new year and you never know what is going to happen," said the 2008 Rookie of the Year.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Mike Neff