Topeka: John Force Racing final report

ASHLEY FALLS IN FINAL AT O'REILLY SUMMER NATIONALS TOPEKA, Kansas -- Ashley Force Hood's bid to succeed her father as champion of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals came up just short Sunday at Heartland Park-Topeka where points leader...

ASHLEY FALLS IN FINAL AT O'REILLY SUMMER NATIONALS

TOPEKA, Kansas -- Ashley Force Hood's bid to succeed her father as champion of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals came up just short Sunday at Heartland Park-Topeka where points leader Ron Capps sped to his fourth v ictory of the season.

The No. 1 qualifier, Force Hood was victimized in the final round by something her Castrol GTX team has avoided much of the season -- a loss of traction.

With her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang ahead near half track, Ashley suddenly had her hands full as the 8,000 horsepower hybrid darted toward the left side guard wall. For all intents, that ended the 26-year-old's bid for her third pro victory.

"It was a wild ride," said the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton. "It was going good but then it got into trouble. I was trying to pedal it and steer it. It really was making sudden moves. I was just fortunate that I was able to keep it in between everything. I always think it's further down track, but they said it was about half track.

"When it was getting in trouble, that's when I saw him come around me," said the first woman ever to win an NHRA Funny Car race. "I did my best but he would have had to had troubles, too, for me to have caught up to him after that."

Despite the result, Ashley moved from fourth to third in Full Throttle points behind Capps and Del Worsham as the tour moves now to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., for this week's U.A. Route 66 Nationals.

"We're gonna keep our sights set on that No. 1 spot," Ashley said. "I don't think it's out of our reach. We just kind of need to stay focused.and keep fighting the fight."

Ashley's performance salvaged the weekend for Team Castrol whose other Funny Car members were eliminated in the first two rounds.

John Force, who had won the Summer Nationals a record nine times previously, appeared to have a car capable of adding No. 10 until it slowed down in a second round race against Capps.

"My car hauls ass one run and the next run it won't. Why? I don't why. That's what we're trying to find out," said the 126-time tour winner who will move on to Joliet in ninth place in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.

It was a one round day for the other two team members, Robert Hight and Mike Neff, drivers of the Auto Club and Ford Drive One Mustangs, respectively, and the result left both outside the Top 10.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, 60, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and best 1000-foot performance: 2nd/4.189 seconds, 290.98 mph.

Race results: Beat Jerry Toliver; lost to Ron Capps.

Notable: Bid for a repeat victory ended in a round two loss by .005 of a second.

Quotable: "We've struggled so much with these new chassis. We know  it's
going to work but it's really frustrating right now.  You push it too  hard,
it smokes the tires.  You pull it back too far, it's weak and it  smokes the
tires.  It's just a combination of things we have to continue  testing with
Ford.  We just have to do that.  We have to find our  way."

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and best 1000-foot performance: 1st/4.107 seconds, 295.59 mph.

Race results: Beat Jack Wyatt, Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson; lost to Ron Capps

Notable: Third No. 1 start in last four  races; third final round of the
season; quick time and top speed of the  event.

Quotable: "The next few races are going to be hot temperatures just like this because we're getting into summer. Hopefully we got some good data today that all the crew chiefs can use when we go to Chicago and Englishtown. We're excited. We just have to stay focused and keep inching up (on the lead).

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and best 1000-foot performance: 14th/4.498 seconds, 233.36 mph.

Race results: Lost to Tony Pedregon.

Notable: Robert had a .03 of a second reaction time that gave him the early lead before his car lost traction at half track.

Quotable: "My car  needs all the help it can get (because) Tony Pedregon's
really good. Cruz  Pedregon red lit (fouled) right in front of Tony and I
thought maybe (if I  changed my starting line routine) it was going to get in
Tony's head a little  bit, so I rolled 'er in deep (and put out the top
light, a tactic called  deep-staging)."

MIKE NEFF, 42, Ford Drive One Mustang
Qualifying position and best 1000-foot performance: 4th/4.194 seconds, 292.14 mph.

Race results: Lost to Del Worsham.

Notable: Solid qualifying performance after failing to make the starting lineup in his rookie year.

Quotable: "We dropped  No. 1 cylinder.  Then we went down there a little
further and threw the  (supercharger drive) belt off.  We couldn't have asked
for a better clutch  curve.  Honestly, it couldn't have been a nicer-looking
run and why it  dropped No. 1, I have no idea.  It hasn't dropped No. 1 in
a hundred runs."  -- crew chief JOHN MEDLEN.

***

BRITTANY FORCE, 23, BrandSource A/Fuel  Dragster

Qualifying position and best performance: 11th/5.434 seconds, 263.67 mph.

Race results: Lost to Dan Kracht.

COURTNEY FORCE, 21, Sanyo Supercharged HD A/Fuel  Dragster

Qualifying position and best performance: 5th/5.386 seconds, 263.41 mph.

Race results: Lost to Justin Davis.

-credit: jfr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Jack Wyatt , Jerry Toliver , Robert Hight , Bob Tasca III , Mike Neff