Commerce: John Force Racing final report

BECKMAN BEATS ASHLEY FORCE HOOD IN ATLANTA FINAL ATLANTA, Ga. -- "Fast Jack" Beckman avenged a final round loss to Ashley Force Hood at last month's O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, spoiling what could have been a career day...

BECKMAN BEATS ASHLEY FORCE HOOD IN ATLANTA FINAL

ATLANTA, Ga. -- "Fast Jack" Beckman avenged a final round loss to Ashley Force Hood at last month's O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, spoiling what could have been a career day for the driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at Atlanta Dragway.

Beckman, who taught Ashley and her sisters to drive in the Super Comp class, saved his best run for last Sunday and his 4.128 second effort was just good enough to hold off Ashley's No. 1-qualifying Ford, which encountered problems down track and slowed to 4.157 at only 248.39 miles per hour in the final round of the 29th annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals.

The victory enabled Beckman to move up to second in points behind teammate Ron Capps, one point ahead of Force Hood, who was bidding for her second straight victory at Atlanta Dragway.

It was an unexpected result, especially since Ashley had recorded the quickest time and fastest speed during the qualifying phase and then repeated that performance in each of the first three rounds with times of 4.078, 4.082 and 4.079 seconds.

Her three best speeds on race day -- 310.48, 311.41 and 312.13 mph -- were the three fastest since the course was shortened from a quarter mile to 1,000 feet last year following the death of two-time world champion Scott Kalitta.

While Ashley was turning heads with the performance of her green-and-white Mustang, the other three Team Castrol Fords were making an early exit and two of them also were victimized by Beckman's Dodge. Robert Hight was the first to fall in the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford and, after Mike Neff had lost to Ashley, John Force fell to Beckman by a margin of .003 of a second.

Nevertheless, all four team members were able to hold on to positions in the Top 10 as the Full Throttle tour moves next to Gateway International Raceway for the May 1-3 O'Reilly Midwest Nationals.

Rain, which interrupted racing on four earlier occasions Sunday, finally forced NHRA officials to suspend racing late Sunday with champions yet to be determined in Pro Stock and five sportsman categories. Racing was scheduled to resume Monday morning.

***

JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.100 seconds, 306.19 mph.

Race results: Beat Jerry Toliver; lost to Jack Beckman.

Notable: Won his 60th racing round in the Southern Nationals, just the second race in which he has reached that plateau.

Quotable: "We had a real good hot rod, but we just let Beckman sneak up on us. We ran good; he ran just a little better. I was really proud of Ashley's team even though they didn't win. Like I said on my interview on ESPN, that is our best race car right now and as a driver in just her third year, she ain't doing too bad."

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: No. 1 at 4.073 seconds, 310.05 mph.

Race results: Beat Del Worsham, Mike Neff, Tony Pedregon; lost to Jack Beckman.

Notable: Posted two fastest Funny Car speeds since the race distance was shortened to 1,000 feet; qualified No. 1 for the fourth time in her career; recorded quickest time in each of the first three rounds..

Quotable: "Our team has always believed that consistency is the key. We've always had a really consistent car. Now we are running at the top of the pack. We're really excited and all we can do now is try to figure out what happened and move on to St. Louis and the next race.

ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: No.10 at 4.144 seconds, 299.86 mph.

Race results: lost to Jack Beckman.

Notable: Remained in tie for ninth place in Full Throttle points.

Quotable: "This is disappointing (but) I know Jimmy Prock and my guys can figure it out. It can't happen soon enough for me. We'll go back to the shop and work on the dynos until St. Louis. That's all we can do right now."

MIKE NEFF, 42, Ford Drive One Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: No. 8 at 4.125 seconds, 303.43 mph.

Race results: Beat Jim Head; lost to Ashley Force Hood.

Notable: Improved to 4.113 seconds in first round victory.

Quotable: "We are just battling our clutch a little; mainly our clutch controller. It is a new part we have been running this year. We're trying to fine tune it and it caused us some problems this weekend. The car has been running good. If we can just eliminate these little mistakes I think we are real close to getting on a roll."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Scott Kalitta , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Jerry Toliver , Robert Hight , Mike Neff