ASHLEY DRIVES CASTROL FORD TO THIRD NO. 1 IN LAST FOUR TOUR EVENTS TOPEKA, Kansas -- Ashley Force Hood didn't come close Saturday to duplicating the 4.107 second time she put on the board during Friday qualifying for the 21st annual O'Reilly...
ASHLEY DRIVES CASTROL FORD TO THIRD NO. 1 IN LAST FOUR TOUR EVENTS
TOPEKA, Kansas -- Ashley Force Hood didn't come close Saturday to duplicating the 4.107 second time she put on the board during Friday qualifying for the 21st annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX.
However, since no one else came close either, the 26-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force will start Sunday's race at Heartland Park-Topeka from the front of the pack for the third time in the last four races.
Force Hood, the first woman to appear in an NHRA Funny Car final and the first to win a race in the Funny Car division, will oppose journeyman Jack Wyatt of Corydon, Iowa, in the first round with a possible father-daughter pairing in the final.
John Force, who hasn't won an NHRA tour event since prevailing in last year's Summer Nationals, stayed No. 2 in the order at 4.189 seconds and will send his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford against the Chevrolet of Jerry Toliver
With Ashley's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang safely positioned at the top of the qualifying order following the Friday night session, crew chiefs Dean "Guido" Antonelli and Ron Douglas took the opportunity to test some new components on Saturday.
"We were going to test next Monday, (after the Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill.)," Antonelli said, "but we found out when we got here that we weren't going to get to test at Chicago. If we had known that, we would have stayed and tested two weeks ago at Bristol (Tenn.)."
With new technology on the car, Ashley managed a best of only 5.005 seconds Saturday.
"My crew chiefs didn't seem too upset (that the car didn't go down the track)," Ashley said. "On the last run (a pedestrian 6.656 at 103.21 mph), 'Guido" even said he learned something, so it wasn't all bad.
"I don't know why everyone had so much trouble (on Saturday) except for the heat. It seems like the track wasn't that bad."
JOHN FORCE, 60, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.189 seconds, 271.02 mph.
First round opponent and record against: Jerry Toliver (19-4 with four straight wins).
Notable: After failing to qualify for a career high four races in 2008, Force qualified in the top half of the field for the 10th consecutive race.
Quotable: "We ran 4.27 in the heat (on Saturday) and that gives us something to go with on Sunday. Seems like we're always lining up against Toliver and 'Big Jim' Dunn. Just gonna go out and try to do our job for Ford, Castrol, Auto Club and the rest of our sponsors."
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Final qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.107 seconds, 295.59 mph.
First round opponent and record against: Jack Wyatt (first career meeting).
Notable: Sixth career No. 1 and third in the last four races.
Quotable: "Even though we didn't run like we wanted to (on Saturday), we've run well in the heat before and that's what we're going to focus on."
ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final qualifying position and performance: 14th at 4.886 seconds, 174.03 mph.
First round opponent and record against: Tony Pedregon (6-10 but have split their last 10 meetings)
Notable: Qualified 10th or worse for the sixth time in the last seven races.
Quotable: "We're gonna fix it. It's not just one issue that we're dealing with but, believe it or not, we're making progress."
MIKE NEFF, 42, Ford Drive One Mustang
Final qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.194 seconds, 292.14 mph.
First round opponent and record against: Del Worsham (first career meeting)
Notable: Had the best 1,000 foot time on Saturday at 4.194 and second fastest speed of the entire weekend at 292.14 mph.
Quotable: "Getting down the track today was the important thing because these are the conditions we're going to race in on Sunday. The track was in decent shape, maybe a little better than everyone expected. That was a good run."
BRITTANY FORCE, 23, BrandSource A/Fuel Dragster
Final qualifying position and performance: 11th at 5.434, 263.67 mph
First round result: Lost to Dan Kracht, Gretna, Neb.
COURTNEY FORCE, 21, Sanyo Supercharged HD A/Fuel Dragster
Final qualifying position and performance: 5th at 5.386, 263.41 mph.
First round result: Lost to Justin Davis, Murietta, Calif.