Ashley Force - NHRA teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Your dad was really subdued and I don't know if he just wanted you to have your own moment in the spotlight or if he was still kind of frustrated because this was a big moment to come back after his crash and this is...

Continued from part 1

Q: Your dad was really subdued and I don't know if he just wanted you to have your own moment in the spotlight or if he was still kind of frustrated because this was a big moment to come back after his crash and this is the closest he's gotten to winning again. Was it all very confusing for him or how did you handle him and how did he handle you, I guess? And the other question was, are you excited about the day when people will just say, hey, the girl won, and it will just be Ashley Force, driver?

ASHLEY FORCE: I think every female driver, deep down, we really want to be recognized as how we are as a driver. Really the girl/guy thing, it's exciting for the fans and media. But as drivers as we work and train with our teams, we want to be recognized just for whether we're doing well or not. But as drivers.

And sometimes it's hard because I get all the attention for being a gal in the seat, yet I have a group of ten guys on my team that work 24/7 on that race car and give me a safe, good race car. I feel they need more credit. They're the ones. If it was an all-female team, that would be cool. Some day that would be pretty awesome.

But for now I've got a great group of guys. I wouldn't be in the driver seat and I wouldn't be winning races without them. I always want to remind people of that, that I am a gal and I do like being a girl in racing, I do love my team and they're a great group of guys.

And for the first question, the question about Dad, yeah, he was very quiet. I think he was trying to give me my space and let me do my thing. And I didn't mind. I would have loved to have him up there and around me. He always worries that he's stepping on my turf or something, and that's not how I feel at all. It was exciting to race him.

I learned everything from him, and I really enjoyed it. That's why I chose the Funny Car class, so I could race with him. But I also think it was a long day for everyone, the fans and the teams and with the rain on and off. It was a strange day. And when we ended it it was nighttime, and I think everyone was just so excited but kind of exhausted that we made it through the day, that we had two of our teams in the final round.

You couldn't ask for anything more than that when you have team cars. So we were real happy. He was real happy for our team and just happy that we got the race to happen that day. We weren't sure in the morning, when I got up I didn't think we'd be racing that day, but it turned out to be a great day for us, and Dad was very proud.

Q: Ashley, are there any other plans this week for you to do any national media? I know you were on Tony Stewart's SIRIUS program last night. But is there anything else, TV or stuff?

ASHLEY FORCE: After this conference call we're going to be doing a satellite media tour. I sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I don't quite know. But I think it's reaching out to different media across the country. So I know we're doing that.

And I have Elon and Dave and Kelly. Poor Elon, I picked on him this week because he's got me so busy. But that's his job and he's trying to get it out there, let people know about our day and everything. So I'm not sure what's lined up next. I'll check my e-mails after we finish everything today and see where we go.

All I know for sure is I'm heading to St. Louis on Thursday. I can't miss that one.

Q: Danica Patrick got her first win recently too, of course. And many say finally. But often overlooked is her performance, her consistency over many races to get where she is. Now you get your first win. Do you think your consistency, your performance has been overlooked as well?

ASHLEY FORCE: No, I think that we kept going to the finals and we knew if we just stuck to it we were going rounds. We were able to take the points lead. It's so tough. You get frustrated because in drag racing we want everything in less than five seconds and it's so easy for us to be like, oh, we haven't won a race, we want to win a race.

But in the big scheme of things, I'm racing people, some with over 30 years' experience, with championships under their belts, including my dad and Scelzi. So many great drivers out there. We have to take a step back and say, let's look at this the right way. We're happy to go rounds. We're happy to get to finals. If we can get that win, that would be great. But we also know how tough this category is.

It's not just going to be something that's easy that happens. It's going to take a lot of work and effort and we can't give up. That's how we looked at things.

Q: Ashley, are you glad the way that it happened with the way it did with your dad in the opposite lane, or a part of you wished that maybe it would have been somebody else over there and your dad could have been the starting lines just cheering you on?

ASHLEY FORCE: Well, I had mixed emotions. And it really doesn't matter. It is what it is. But you never want to race your teammate. But yet you really want to have two teams in the finals. So it was a strange night. It was such a late night, and it was odd, the whole thing. But it was fun to get to race against him and to have to beat some of the best of the best to get to that final. It was a tough weekend. Each of our rounds were tough competitors.

So it makes us proud that we were able to get through all those great teams and great drivers, and we ended up standing at the end of it all. It was fun racing his team. We were making all kinds of jokes on the radio before we got - before we got up to run. I was actually joking with his crew chief, Austin Coil, because I was his flowergirl in his wedding when I was five. I got on the radio and said, Do you really want to beat your flowergirl? And he gets on and just very calmly quietly says, Yes. You could hear all the guys laughing.

It was fun to race against some of the greatest buddies in life. They work on my dad's team, but then you think I had to beat my dad to do it. But if that's what it's going to take, that's what we're going to do.

Q: I know afterward you said you'd always like try to plan what you would say if you won. Obviously you were thinking about it for a while. Now that you got it, did it actually end up feeling to you like you thought it would or was it not actually what you dreamed it would be like, or more?

ASHLEY FORCE: It was a real mix of emotions, and it really wasn't until today that I could really fully enjoy it. I think it was such an exhausting day with the weather changes and the emotions of it. I mean, I had never realized before I climbed in the Funny Car how mentally taxing it can be.

When you go up and you're geared up to run and they started our cars for the final, then it started sprinkling, then they shut them down, then it was like a mad rush to get the tools, to get the car back where it needed to be, get it refueled or whatever they had to do. And you're sitting there watching all this chaos and you're trying to keep yourself calm. That wasn't how I wanted to go into that round. I was distracted. I didn't feel how I normally felt going into a run. I didn't know what the car was going to do, because we've never had that situation where we started up and shut down before.

So I wasn't as excited as I had thought I would be. When I won the semis and Dad won, I was so pumped. Let's go up and run together. When it came down to it, it was just kind of some craziness that went on. But we got to the end. We won the race. I didn't know what had happened to Dad.

Then it was just a whirlwind of, you know, running here and there and interviews. And the one thing I was really hoping was to get back to my team, and after we got everything done, finally I was able to meet back up with them in the Winner's Circle. That's when I started to enjoy myself to realize what had just happened.

But it took a whole day and a half, really, for it to kick in. Yesterday we flew home. Got home. I did my call-ins. I was in bed by 8:30. I was just exhausted, was getting sick. I think when your body kind of takes all that in, kind of like the kid at Christmas opens all the Christmas presents and eats all the candy, is so excited, then gets sick at the end of it all, just a little too much. That's kind of how I felt when I got home yesterday. I was overwhelmed by the phone calls. It was all great things, but it was a lot to take in and I never expected that.

But when I woke up this morning I had a full night's rest. Got home, got unpacked. I got up and I was just really happy this morning when I woke up. I was able to look back and go: We did it. It was a lot of craziness and it was tough, but we made it through and it was such a special day to getb^0x0011- I've got flowers today and just a fun experience. But it was tough for a while. It was stressful would be the best word to describe it.

But in drag racing, that's part of it: Stress. I just have to learn to deal with it a little better.

Q: We'll be welcoming you to St. Louis for the Gateway Race. When you've had success like you've done, do you readjust your long-range goals or do you just take it week by week?

ASHLEY FORCE: I think every team is different. We're taking it week by week. We know in drag racing you can go from hero to zero easily. So we really want to keep focused. We've left Atlanta with a win but we want to go into St. Louis, and first things first, we want to get qualified. That's all that's important to us. Then from there we want to go rounds. And hopefully win again. But you can't get that win until you do all the steps before that.

So we're trying to keep calm and focused and not let one win take us away from our main focus, which is our race car and doing well.

Q: Ashley, two-part question, you mentioned that one of the things that you have to work on is dealing with stress. The victory is unquestionably only going to increase your popularity, which will bring more attention on the championship and probably mean some more demands on your time. So have you given any thought about that and how to deal with what will undoubtedly be increased popularity? And second of all, is it important to you personally to now have your own place in history separate from your father?

ASHLEY FORCE: For the first question, yes, you know, each event that we go to I learn new ways to kind of manage my schedule, manage my time and to be able to do everything I need to do in a weekend.

There's no point in doing a bunch of interviews or signing a bunch of autographs if you can't say what you want to say and be the person that you want to be. And there's sometimes when it just gets so crazy that you feel like you're not doing anything right. You feel like you weren't how you wanted to be with the fans or you said the wrong thing in your interview. And that's the biggest thing I'm trying to work on, is when I'm in my car I need to be focused and drive the car as best I can.

When I'm doing an interview, I need to be focused there and do the interview. And that's just something that will take time and I will learn to do. I think the more I do it, the easier it will get.

But it's part of it. And that's part of winning. Focus is a huge part of it. It's not just the car or the sponsors or the driver, it's can you put all those things together and can you, under pressure, still perform. And that just depends on the team. So we're working on that. And we won Atlanta, but now our goal is to win the next race. So we'll start again on Thursday and we'll try to do that again.

And for the second question was being a part of history. I'm just excited to be in NHRA drag racing. It's such a fun sport. They make it fun for everyone. There's so many great things that it offers. I invite friends all the time, come out. You're not even going to believe all the stuff you can see when you come out to a race, other than racing.

And it's neat to be now part of that history. And I hope to make more memories in it. And I hope to some day have a final against Melanie. I think a female and a female in the final that would be pretty neat. Maybe we'll make that happen. Maybe in St. Louis.

THE MODERATOR: Ashley, thank you for joining us today.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ashley Force , Austin Coil , Danica Patrick