This Week in Ford Racing Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, started her third season in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Series advancing to the second round at Pomona on Tuesday. Ashley, daughter of Funny Car legend John...
This Week in Ford Racing
Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, started her third season in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Series advancing to the second round at Pomona on Tuesday. Ashley, daughter of Funny Car legend John Force, was married during the offseason.
IT'S A NEW SEASON. WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR '09? "This past weekend has been strange with the weather and the rain and delays, but fortunately it hasn't held us up so far. So, you know, we did our testing and we're prepared. Fortunately, my team is basically the same group of guys -- that's always a big advantage to go into the new season and not have to take a step back teaching and bringing in new people. This year we only have two different guys, but they're both from pro teams. One is from Dad's team and one is from Dale Worsham's team. So, they know the game they know this routine."
HAVE YOU EVER GONE THROUGH AN EVENT LIKE POMONA WHERE IT WAS JUST SITTING AROUND AND WATCHING THE RAIN? "We have them, just usually in that location. California, you can pretty much count it's going to be alright weather, but when that happens that's all you can do, you have to just wait. I think it's most frustrating, well it's frustrating for everyone, for the fans who stand out in the rain and wait. They don't want to leave and you never know, my house isn't too far from there and it was sunny there and raining [in Pomona]. Sometimes you can be a couple miles away and the weather is different. So we had people calling us from home finding out should they come out? Should they stay at home? But it's frustrating for the guys because you want to be in that race mode and there's certain feelings you get when you start going rounds and it's hard when you're not, when you're sitting around and you get more tired. It's hard to keep that energy up from going all day long, but you know they manage to do, but you know it's frustrating for all the teams out here. It seems like you don't feel quite as prepared as you do normal race days when you get here and they're doing opening ceremonies and you're, there's fans everywhere and the media and everything is going. Those kinds of days are probably tougher on a team, even though you're doing less, you rather be keeping busy. It seems to keep the momentum going."
HALF OF LAST SEASON WAS RUN AT 1,000 FEET. THE SERIES MAINTAINED 1,000 FEET FOR THIS YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON KEEPING THAT CHANGE? "I think it's only had benefits, only positives. I know it was kind of a surprise to a lot of people that that change was made, but when you really look at the difference that it really doesn't affect the racing, there are still great races, if not even closer races, because the cars are just side by side through the lights. I don't think we've ever had racing as close as we've had in the last year. So it's still exciting for the fans, it's still over 300 miles an hour, some of the cars are getting into the teens, we're just shy of where we were before and I think the safety benefits of it are times 10, that it's worth giving up that little bit of mile-an-hour and not have cars blowing up through the lights. That's one thing that I can say from experience that most of the runs the car came back upset, I mean smoke was coming out of it. I mean, it was very rare that we would come back and have a nice happy car, and with 1,000 foot, it's content, it coasts off, and that's good, that's what the safety is about because those cars, it seemed that after that 1,000-foot, when they were really pulling, they really start just eating themselves up and then you're not going any faster anyway. When you're blowing up, you know, that's not good. I think it's a good step, and I'm glad that everyone is kind of joined in agreeing that, even the fans have, that it doesn't change anything. Now the ET's are crazy numbers to get used to be, but I think it's a step in the right direction for everyone."
THE FUNNY CAR FIELD IS EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE THIS YEAR. THERE WAS SOME KIND OF CONCERN DURING THE OFF-SEASON THAT THE FIELD WOULD SHRINK, BUT THERE WERE STILL 20 CARS THAT SHOWED UP AT POMONA. "I think the Funny Car class will be super competitive this year, more than any other year because there's just all these tuners and all of these teams that are out here. It's starting to be where they have been here for a lot of years and they've learned and built. You know a lot of these crew chiefs used to be kids who were working on cars, now they've moved up the ranks and really are doing great and giving everyone a run for their money, but it's really exciting for everyone. I know when my team were new, and each year we improve and get better, and that's where you'll see all the teams, you know, getting closer in the numbers and in the races, so I think it will be a great year."
SO, WITH THAT KIND OF A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD AND EXPERIENCE HOW DO THE TEAMS AT JOHN FORCE RACING STAY OUT IN FRONT OF THE COMPETITION? IS IT DOING NEW ENGINE PROGRAMS LIKE THE BOSS 500? "Absolutely. As much as you think you've got it, and you think you have a fast car, there's always some way to make it quicker, make it better, safer, there's always ways to take the next step. With our team and our sponsors, we've always been the type, not me personally, but I've been a part of group that likes to take that step. They've been daring and challenging, but that's how you move to the next level, each of our four teams, race a little differently. I know that with Robert [Hight] and his team, they are really the ones that set the records and do the extreme speeds. We really don't race that way, but we have the consistent car and I really do believe that is the key to it, because last year we had three races in a row where we went to the final and one of them we won and then we had two or three where we didn't qualify, lost first round and it just really messed us up with the points. If we can just stay consistent this year, even if we're not winning every race, if you're getting second round, semis, final rounds consistently, you're going to be right up there in the points. That means you've had more experience throughout the year, because you've made more laps, that you have that much more to work from, come those final, however-many races, come the Countdown when every round is crucial and one misstep can cost you the championship. So that's how we race and I personally think that. I'm glad I'm with a team that races like that. I think that breaking ET's and the records are exciting, but I'd rather have a consistent car and go through the year and end up well."
DURING THE OFF-SEASON, YOU GOT MARRIED. " I did. I got married in December, so it was a busy off-season, as all of them are. They fly by in an instant. But really, November and December didn't go by as fast as January did. Once we started getting our gear, ordering whatever, getting the trailer and the lounge, we went out to Indy and spent the week working out of that shop. It seemed the weeks just flew by and now we're almost halfway into February; you know, I can't believe it. It was a good off-season and just the right amount of time to give the guys a chance to go home, see their families, take a little break from being on the road so that we're all excited and pumped up to go back out on the road now that it's time."
-credit: ford racing