ASHLEY TAKES TITLE BID INTO VIRGINIA NATIONALS Champ's Daughter Fifth in Funny Car Countdown Points RICHMOND, Tenn. -- Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. One race after a TV commentator declared her bid for the POWERade Funny ...
ASHLEY TAKES TITLE BID
INTO VIRGINIA NATIONALS
Champ's Daughter Fifth in Funny Car Countdown Points
RICHMOND, Tenn. -- Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
One race after a TV commentator declared her bid for the POWERade Funny Car championship null-and-void, Ashley Force this week rolls into Virginia Motorsports Park very much in contention for the $500,000 title at the wheel of a Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang in which she has qualified No. 1 at three of the last seven NHRA tour events.
Runner-up two weeks ago at Memphis, Tenn., the 25-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force begins this week's NHRA Virginia Nationals in fifth place as the only driver to have beaten pacesetting Tim Wilkerson since the Countdown to 1 began three races ago.
Moreover, she is only one round out of second place and less than 100 points behind Wilkerson.
Not that the former high school cheerleader felt personally slighted by TV analyst Mike Dunn's declaration prior to the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals that excluded her from a list of "realistic" title contenders. It was her dad, the 14-time champion, who took Dunn to task for an assessment he simply believed was a little premature.
For her part, Ashley's just glad to be racing in the Countdown in her second season behind the wheel of one of the world's most powerful race cars, a Ford capable of zero-to100 mile-an-hour acceleration in LESS than one second.
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend," said last year's winner of AOL Sports' "World's Hottest Athlete" poll. "We really seem to have a tune-up for the cooler weather they're predicting.
"When you don't have to worry about a slick track or hot humid weather, it creates prime racing conditions," said the first woman to win an NHRA Funny Car race. "It's always fun when you know the conditions (will) let you run as fast as you can."
Last year at this time, the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton wasn't racing at all. Not only did she not make the Countdown, she was sidelined for the Virginia Nationals after her father suffered debilitating injuries in the worst crash of his 31-year career.
"Other than (the new track at) Charlotte, Richmond is the one track on the tour at which I've spent the least amount of time," she said. "Last year, we skipped the race after dad's crash and in 2006, I think I went out there just to watch the race. I think those are the only other times I've been there.
"I remember 2006, though, because it was the last race that my teammate Eric Medlen won and I remember I stayed over the next day and tested in the Funny Car before my rookie year."
She doesn't see her lack of experience at VMP as a problem, though.
"It's exciting to go to a new place to race," she said. "My routine doesn't change and I know that my crew chiefs, Guido' and Ron (Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas) will be able to adapt to whatever the conditions are. The weather is probably the key.
"I like it when it's cooler. It gets really uncomfortable when it's hot and you have to put on that firesuit but if it's cooler, I could stay in my firesuit all day -- and that's what I plan to do on Sunday."