This Week in Ford Racing Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car, captured her second NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car victory last weekend at the NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. The victory came...
This Week in Ford Racing
Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car, captured her second NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car victory last weekend at the NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. The victory came just five weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of her first Funny Car win in Atlanta. Now in her third season in Funny Car, Force Hood is currently third in the points after four events as she and the rest of John Force Racing head to Las Vegas for Round 5 of the 2009 season this weekend.
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD - Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
WAS WINNING THE SECOND TIME AS SWEET THE FIRST? "The whole day was just a lot of fun. The fans were there at the ropes and we had our momentum going each round. It was so different than Atlanta [first win]. With the rain in Atlanta, we were delayed all day and you kind of lose your energy. We started racing our first round when you usually race the final, but we didn't even end up in the Winner's Circle until about 11:30 at night. It was just one of those really long days, of course we loved being in the Winner's Circle and I loved winning that race, but I think last Sunday was more of how you always hope and dream to have a win. We were able to celebrate, tons of fans were still there to watch the race and they weren't soaking wet. It was just a fun day. I wouldn't change anything about it, it was a perfect day."
TO WIN AT HOUSTON YOU HAD TO DEFEAT RON CAPPS, THE SERIES POINTS LEADER, YOUR DAD, DEL WORSHAM AND JACK BECKMAN. THAT IS QUITE A COMPETITIVE LINE-UP FOR THE ELMINATION ROUNDS. "It was quite the line-up. In interviews right after the race I said, 'I had such a tough group of people to race,' and really I take it back; it wasn't any harder than any other team. I think every Funny Car team that competes is tough. You never know what's going to happen so that's not to take anything away from any of the other teams. It's just, personally, I had struggled against a lot of these drivers in the past. Capps has beaten me, Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, of course my father, these are all people who have beaten me before, who have cut good lights on me and who are good drivers, who get it down the track. So for me, I've raced them all a lot, I knew I needed to be on my game. I knew my team would give me a great car I just needed to be on my game for that day and not come up short in any way because they would definitely take advantage of that. Luckily, everything worked out and we kept going round after round. I still look back and I can't believe how it ended up, but that's drag racing for you."
YOU SAID AFTER THE RACE THAT YOU WERE GLAD TO HAVE BEATEN ANOTHER TEAM'S DRIVER FOR THE WIN BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE HAVE SUGGESTED YOUR DAD LET YOU WIN IN ATLANTA. "Over the past year, we have had fans come up, and I think it's more in a joking way, and they say, 'Oh your dad, he wants you to win, I think he helped you get that.' It hurts our feelings, especially my team, who work so hard. We would never give something like that away, neither team would. Dad's team, they work just as many hours as my guys and to have people think that, I think it crushed our spirits a little and kind of took away that magic from the first win. We knew in our camp, and all the teams out there knew, we were a heads-up race. Going into the final round in Atlanta, I knew we had the advantage because we had the better lane. I knew if we could just get from A to B there was a good chance we were going to win it. It took a little wind out of our sail that some people out there would think that and I knew it would happen. I knew the moment Dad made it through the semis, because I had already won and I was down at the end, and he won and I thought, 'This is not how I wanted my day to end up.' I did not want to race him in the final round; of course, I was hoping to win the race. Last Sunday was definitely how you want a race day to go. There's no doubt in anybody's mind now we really had to earn that win. We were up against teams that have been battling it out with us for decades, so to be able to go up against Beckman, race him, and have a good side-by-side race, it just cleared the air. It gave us back confidence and we know people know that we're a good team. We don't need that kind of help and they wouldn't want to help us like that. Our teams want us to earn our win, our first win, our second and every win after that. Hopefully, we will have a lot more of them and hopefully we won't have to race our own teammates, but instead take out the competition, because that's what you need to do in order to get a championship. Guido [crew chief Dean Antonelli] even said, when he saw the kind of the line up and who was on our side of the ladder, and to have first round match-up be the guy who is No.1 in the points, he said, 'I wouldn't want it any other way.' We want to face the people that are up in the points. We need to knock them down and get them out of here in order for us to be able to move up around them. It's no good going into finals if the points leader is going to finals with you on the other side of the ladder. You want to face those people high in the points so you can bring them down lower."
YOU ARE CURRENTLY THIRD IN THE POINTS, TOP AMONG THE SIX FORD FUNNY CARS, JUST 31 POINTS BEHIND RON CAPPS. ACTUALLY, YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE POINTS LEADERS, SO YOU KNOW THE OTHER DRIVERS ARE CHASING YOU FOR POINTS. "Everything switched around within the matter of hours and that just goes to show you how close the points in Funny Car are. We're so close even to first place, yet we're just as close to the guys lower down in the points. Everything can mix up and we know that and we're not going to take anything in this sport for granted. We know that we need to go to Vegas and get qualified first off and go through the rounds. That's just what we need to do. We can't afford to go into a rut after having such a great weekend in Houston and gaining so much ground in the points. We're ready and while we're excited about our Houston win, we know we can't end at that, we've got to keep it going."
THIS WEEKEND IS THE FIRST OF TWO NHRA STOPS AT 'THE STRIP' AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. DOES IT HELP TO BE FAMILIAR WITH THE TRACK OR DOES FAMILIARITY GIVE YOU CAUSE TO SECOND GUESS YOURSELF? "I think it helps. I like racing at Vegas because I've made more passes down that track than any other race track. I got licensed there for Funny Car, and in years past we've gone there for test sessions before the season starts. We race there twice a year so we have a lot of data that the crew chiefs can look back on. I have a lot of experience on the track. Usually, it's really great conditions there for the spring race with cool weather, so you're not having the humidity you're having the dry air, which is great for our cars, and there's also that long shut off. It's just a really nice track to race on and I think all the other teams in NHRA would agree. We like going there. Robert [Hight] tends to do great at Vegas so I know he's looking forward to going back there, but my team is hoping to step up there and do well, too. We know we can if we can just keep on this roll that we have suddenly got ourselves among the points leaders and we have overcome some problems from first few races of the year, our teams really have struggled. My team has had a great car, we just seem to run into dumb things happening, just going out early in rounds. I think we're finally back where we need to be, and that win kind of gave us our confidence back."