Commerce: Saturday qualifying report

FUNNY CAR FATHER-DAUGHTER JOHN AND ASHLEY FORCE TO RACE FOR FIRST TIME AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS Fuller, Mike Ashley, Anderson and Sampey earn No. 1 qualifying positions at Atlanta Dragway COMMERCE, Ga. -- Drag racing legend...

FUNNY CAR FATHER-DAUGHTER JOHN AND ASHLEY FORCE TO RACE FOR FIRST TIME AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS

Fuller, Mike Ashley, Anderson and Sampey earn No. 1 qualifying positions at Atlanta Dragway

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Drag racing legend John Force will try to win his first elimination round of the season against his daughter Ashley Sunday during the opening round of Funny Car racing the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

The intriguing match-up between the 58-year-old, 14-time series champion and the 24-year-old rookie, who out-qualified her famous dad, is the first between the sport's only father-daughter teammates.

The Battle of the Forces overshadowed No. 1 qualifiers Rod Fuller, Mike Ashley, Greg Anderson and Angelle Sampey at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.

Ashley Force will have lane choice when she lines up against her father. Her fifth-best 4.746 at 316.60 mph earned her the honor against John's 12th-best 4.785 at 311.99 mph in his identically prepared Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.

The elder Force smiled as he told his daughter she could have the day off tomorrow, which drew laughs from a group of reporters gathered round to interview the two opponents. Ashley declined his gracious offer and said she would see him at the starting line.

"A lot of drivers might be intimidated by him," Ashley said. "But to me he's just dad. If anyone is going to be nervous, it's him. He'll be so worried about me and all the things he thinks might happen that I think it'll be hard for him to focus.

"It's his own fault I'm coming after him. He's been my teacher the whole way. The big question everybody's asking is which side of the track are my mom and my sisters going to stand when we race?"

Fuller earned his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the year and third of his career in Top Fuel with Friday night's pass of 4.506 at 326.71 mph in his David Powers Motorsports dragster.

"I feel like I've aged this year," Fuller said. "We're under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform because we don't have a major sponsor and I don't know if people understand what it's like to race without really knowing what the future holds. All we can do is try our best to get attention for our team and the longer we stay No. 1 in the points, the more media we'll get, so our mission has become very clear."

In Funny Car, Mike Ashley did more than enough Friday evening to secure his second career top qualifying effort with his performance of 4.704 at 331.04 mph in his Torco Dodge Charger.

"There's no substitute for experience," Mike Ashley said, "and I've got two crew chiefs who really compliment each other well in Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald. Plus, Mark actually tests our car for me and I don't think anyone else has a crew chief that also tests the car. Sometimes the computer doesn't tell you exactly what you feel in the driver's seat but Mark can overcome that problem because he's living it. What an advantage for us."

Anderson continued his strong start to the season in Pro Stock with his third No. 1 qualifying effort and the 54th of his career. Anderson claimed the position with his track record run of 6.627 at 208.71 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO.

"We've made really good runs every time down the track and that's the first time I've been able to say that all year," Anderson said. "I guess we started with a tune-up that's pretty close to what the track wanted."

Sampey raced to her second No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 41st of her career in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a track record time of 6.976 at 191.59 mph on her U.S. Army Suzuki.

"Being the No. 1 qualifier doesn't secure anything because we all know anything can happen from any position once you make the field," Sampey said, "but I like starting No 1 because it just gives you that extra bit of confidence going into race day."

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Greg Anderson , Ashley Force , Mike Ashley , David Powers , Rod Fuller , Angelle Sampey