Norwalk: Ashley Force Hood preview

ASHLEY AIMS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND Momentum Carries Force Hood into Summit Nationals NORWALK, Ohio -- Ten years before Ashley Force Hood was even a glimmer in her dad's eye, Helen Reddy and Ray Burton penned a lyric that today ...

ASHLEY AIMS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND
Momentum Carries Force Hood into Summit Nationals

NORWALK, Ohio -- Ten years before Ashley Force Hood was even a glimmer in her dad's eye, Helen Reddy and Ray Burton penned a lyric that today perfectly describes the 26-year-old's exceedingly realistic bid to become the first woman to win the NHRA Funny Car Championship.

Could there be a more appropriate anthem for a woman who plies her trade in an 8,000 horsepower, 300 mile-an-hour Ford Mustang than "I am woman, hear me roar?'" Not likely.

The first woman to reach a Funny Car final, the first to win a Funny Car race and the first to qualify for the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, Ashley roars into Summit Motorsports Park for this week's third annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals with her destiny clearly in sight.

After all, the daughter of drag racing icon John Force has taken her Castrol GTX® Mustang to the final round in five of the last eight races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, has started from No. 1 more often this year than any other driver and, as a result, trails pacesetting Tony Pedregon by just 20 points -- one competitive round -- in the battle to determine who wlll be the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

Although everyone basically will start from scratch once the 10 eligible drivers are determined following the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., Ashley is focused on being No. 1 at both the start and finish of the Countdown.

"The next few races are going to be (run in) hot temperatures," said the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton, "and we have a car that runs good in the heat. It's great to be moving up in points, but we're gonna keep our sights set on that No. 1 spot. We just kind of need to stay focused."

As for her three straight runner-up finishes, the last two to former series champion Tony Pedregon, Ashley is philosophical.

"You always want to win and you're bummed when you don't," she said, "but the important thing is that our Mustang is running really well in all kinds of conditions.

"It's a great feeling to go to the semis and finals, week after week (so) we'll just keep trying to do that and see what happens."

Although she's been driving well, the former high school cheerleader credits crew chiefs Dean "Guido" Antonelli and Ron Douglas for giving her a car that, week-in and week-out, has been the top performer in the class.

"You're not going to win championships being timid," she said, "and I think that's why we've been near the top (of the points) all year. My crew chiefs haven't been afraid to take chances. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don't, but now is the time -- before we get to the Countdown."

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Ashley Force