ASHLEY FORCE SURVIVES FIRE IN FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING AT JOLIET Champ's Daughter Ninth after Three of Four Sessions in TORCO Nationals JOLIET, Ill. -- Ashley Force was stirred but not shaken Saturday after riding out an eye-opening engine explosion...
ASHLEY FORCE SURVIVES FIRE IN FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING AT JOLIET
Champ's Daughter Ninth after Three of Four Sessions in TORCO Nationals
JOLIET, Ill. -- Ashley Force was stirred but not shaken Saturday after riding out an eye-opening engine explosion and fire at the conclusion of a qualifying run in the 10th annual TORCO Racing Fuels Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
Ms. Force, the 24-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force, was making one of the better runs during Saturday's early afternoon session when a supercharger explosion and fire slowed her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang from its 4.783 second Friday pace to 4.999 at 267.53 miles per hour.
Despite the unexpected conclusion, Ashley's time was the fifth quickest in the session and she remained ninth in the provisional starting lineup.
"I remember thinking that we were getting down the track pretty well," said the Funny Car rookie, "(especially) since everyone else was having trouble. We were getting to the end and then 'boom!' I screamed because it scared me. I wasn't expecting it.
"There was some fire in the cockpit and I could feel the heat, but I also knew my helmet was sealing me off since I wasn't getting any hotter. My first instinct was to go for my radio, but then I got on the fire bottles. It was slowing down after that. It stayed in the middle the whole time. There was a moment when I couldn't see, but when I could see again, I was still right in the groove.
"In Phoenix (where she first experienced an engine fire during pre-season testing), there was a lot more smoke," she said. "Today, there wasn't as much smoke but a lot more fire. 'Guido' (crew chief Dean 'Guido' Antonelli) said it boomed and lifted the body and that let in more fire. I'll take the fire over the smoke, because with smoke it gets dark and you can't see as well. The fire was warm like, well, a sauna."