Englishtown: Ashley Force Hood preview

FOUR-IN-SEVEN STREAK KEEPS ASHLEY CLOSE Force Hood Rides Momentum into 40th UA SuperNationals ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- If she had found a way to beat Tony Pedregon a little more often, Ashley Force Hood most certainly would be the Funny Car ...

FOUR-IN-SEVEN STREAK KEEPS ASHLEY CLOSE
Force Hood Rides Momentum into 40th UA SuperNationals

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- If she had found a way to beat Tony Pedregon a little more often, Ashley Force Hood most certainly would be the Funny Car points leader entering this week's 40th annual United Association SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

As it is, the 26-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force, for whom Pedregon once drove and for whom he won the championship in the Castrol SYNTEC Ford, rolls into Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in third place in NHRA Full Throttle points, two behind Pedregon and just 60 back of pacesetting Ron Capps.

It's a lofty position for the former high school cheerleader who this week is competing in just her 55th event in a Castrol GTX Ford Mustang that, week-in and week-out, has been the performance leader among the vehicles in the John Force Racing motor pool.

A finalist in four of the last seven races and winner last April at Houston, Texas, she nevertheless has lost to Pedregon in three of their last four meetings, most recently in the final round of last week's U.A. Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill. That's 60 points that could be in her column instead of his.

Still, the woman billed as the new face of high performance knows she has a car capable of going the distance once the field is set for the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.

"You always want to win and you're bummed when you don't," she said of last weekend's result, "but our Mustang is running really well in all kinds of conditions and it's a great feeling to go to the semis and finals, week after week. We'll just keep trying to do that."

She'll try again this week on a track she owned as a semi-pro, Top Alcohol Dragster driver but one on which she has yet to win a round as a Funny Car pro.

Perhaps her biggest challenge is controlling her own overactive mind.

"I had a lot of issues with thinking about things and changing routine (last week)," she said. "I was maybe trying a little too hard. That can sometimes push you backwards. That we got to the final with me having a weird weekend was pretty crazy. The good thing is that it's behind us.

"You're not going to win championships being timid," she said, "and I think that's why we've been near the top (of the points) all year. My crew chiefs, Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas, haven't been afraid to take chances. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don't, but now is the time -- before we get to the Countdown."

The first woman to go to an NHRA Funny Car final round, the first to win a race, the first to finish in the Top 10 and the first to qualify for the Countdown, Ashley is almost certain to be in the 10-driver lineup for a playoff scenario that begins with the Sept. 17-20 Carolina Nationals at Charlotte, N.C.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Ashley Force