Force Hood - Ford interview 2010-09-08

This Week in Ford Racing: September 8, 2010 This past weekend Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Funny Car, defeated her father and teammate John Force to win her second US Nationals race in Indianapolis. Following her win, Force...

This Week in Ford Racing:
September 8, 2010

This past weekend Ashley Force Hood, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Funny Car, defeated her father and teammate John Force to win her second US Nationals race in Indianapolis. Following her win, Force Hood participated in a media conference where she discussed the significance of the race.

TALK ABOUT WINNING BACK-TO- BACK US NATIONALS. "This has just been an amazing day and this win is even bigger than last year because we struggled this year. Last year at this point in the season we were on a roll. We had gone to some finals; we were doing really well and won some races. We were up high in the points going into the Countdown, where this year it's been a complete other end of the spectrum. We've struggled. We haven't been able to get past first and second round and we got into the Countdown in eighth. Coming here we've stayed positive, which is the only thing you can really do. We said 'let's turn it around'. The neat thing with the point structure, we hated the point structure last year, but we love it this year because you kind of get a second start to your season to turn it around if it's not going how you want it to go. We went into this race saying 'let's put the past behind us and see what we can do here, kick off this Countdown how we want this season to go'. Then it happened, which just shows when you're positive about things and you really believe in yourself that it can pay off. We've just had one of those days. There's been many times this season where I've said to Guido [Antonelli], we just do not have any luck. We come up on the losing end at these amazingly close races. At one of the races he said, 'You know, we're not going to win this championship on luck, we're going to win it on consistency and doing our job on one end to the other'. Today we didn't have any luck we had hard races, tough conditions and we just had a really consistent, good running car. My lights were better than they've been in the past and if you put those two things together you have a really good shot at a win. Today was our day."

DO YOU FEEL THAT WINNING A SECOND INDY TITLE MAKES YOU THE PREMIERE FEMALE DRIVER IN TODAY'S MODERN MOTORSPORTS? "No, there are so many different variables that go into a win. Obviously I'm a girl driver and I love girl power and all of that stuff, but I have 12 guys that work on my team. They are just as important if not more important to this win as I am. I drive the car but they're the ones back in the pit that get this car consistent, get it together and don't make mistakes. Ron [Douglas] and Guido [Antonelli] get the tune up just right round after round, never missing it. I think because of them, you know I wouldn't be here without my team, and they're a great team. They were great last season and every season since we started back in 2007. I'm just along for the ride. I'm lucky to be in this spot, in this seat. I think any driver that would jump in this seat would be made to look good because they give me a real good consistent car, and a safe car. I just do my best and try to keep working at those reaction times and working at keeping it in the groove. Each round is really a lesson. You learn a little more about the car and just try to get better and better."

HOW WAS IT TO RACE AGAINST YOUR FATHER AT THE US NATIONALS IN THE FINAL ROUND? "Today was, and maybe people don't believe this, but the pressure really is off when you run your teammate when you run them later in the day in the final round. When you start a race and you have multiple teams the best ideal end of your day would be to have two of your teams racing each other. Robert and I were able to do it last year here and Dad and me this year. We went up there, we were having fun. The tough part was the Semis. We were so excited to win that round and to have Dad win behind us. That was really the final round for our team because we could go up this round and go whatever happens, happens. We're going to end up one and two, not in points, but how we ended this race. It's fun. It takes off a lot of pressure. My Dad and his crew chiefs taught me and my crew chiefs. It's fun when you get to race him. I think that the big round for us, every round is big, but for me personally, I think running Jack [Beckman] that was big for me. He was my teacher back when I was 16 and I went to Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School. He taught me in a Super Comp Car. He's a good friend of ours. That's the Schumacher Team, our arch-rivals, and to have him and [Matt] Hagan against me and Dad, that's one of those ideal situations. It could have gone our way and it could have not gone our way. It just happened to fall on our side today."

WHAT DID YOUR FATHER HAVE TO SAY AFTERWARDS? "I couldn't really understand him. There was so much craziness going on and Full Throttle being splashed everywhere. I have no idea what happened in the other lane. That's the only bummer about being a driver. You don't see that much racing, only what is going on in your car. Every round today, when I would see my win light, I was like [sigh], because I don't know if the guy is right next to me or if they're broke on the starting line. He didn't go A to B because I didn't see him when I lifted at the end. I saw Jack [Beckman] right next to me when I lifted so I knew that was a close race. We had the advantage in Atlanta as well with the lanes. Not every track has a difference in lanes, and it's not a huge deal. People make good runs in both lanes, but you have that little bit of extra confidence when you've been going down that lane all day long. We felt a little bit of an advantage going into that final that we were going back into the lane we've been running in all day. We've been running well here. If we just do what we've been doing we have a really good shot at this win and it was our day."

ARE YOU HOPING TO DO WHAT ROBERT DID LAST YEAR STARTING OUT IN THE BOTTOM, WINNING THE FIRST RACE IN THE COUNTDOWN AND JUST GETTING HOT THEN UNTIL YOU WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "This is going to be interesting. It's going to be exciting and that's what the fans want to see, and that's what we want to be a part of. When I was sitting up there getting ready for the final round, getting a little nervous and anxious, I remembered thinking that this is going to be nothing pressure wise compared to the end of this year. This was my own Dad, my teammate. We're running in the finals of the biggest race of the year. Pressure is going to be in a few weeks when the Countdown is coming down and there are those points that you're going to be grasping for. I better enjoy this. Who knows what the next few months will bring? At least we can say we did well here. We turned our season around hopefully and no better time to do it than now during the first race of the Countdown in Indy."

YOU MENTIONED THAT YOUR REACTION TIME WAS BETTER TODAY. ANY REASON FOR THAT? HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON IT? "Yes, I've been trying different things during the last handful of races trying different things. Some have worked, some haven't. We used a test day back in Norwalk during a match race out there and tried some different things, two stepped it, but that's the only way to learn. You've got to try different things. I've never really got that experience of rolling in and all of those different things, yet you don't want to try something new on race day. That was a good day for me to have that testing day to try some different things. The biggest thing that I'm learning, and I hope to continue that down the road, is that you can't think about it. Everybody says that, Guido, Dad, everyone says the more you think and worry and try to get better, the worse you're going to be because you're just adding more things in your mind. Even in rolling it in, since I'm not that experienced at it, I would try to roll in and my mind would go how much did I roll in? Did I roll in? Then the tree is down and there it goes. Today I really just tried to go, 'I'm going to roll in, wherever I land, I land and not think of it and react' and it worked. People can tell you a million things until finally it just clicks and it works for you that you understand. Hopefully, this can be a start of a pattern and I won't go back to the old way. There are a lot of good drivers in this class and I think that reaction times are going to be a huge deal right down to the end of the year. I'm just trying my best to keep up with them.

YOU JUST MADE DRAG RACING HISTORY IN A WAY THAT HASN'T BEEN DONE BEFORE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THAT? "It's funny because when we were standing back out there we were talking about that because Dad has never won back-to-back at Indy. Then we reminded ourselves that there are plenty of other records that he has set that would take me a lifetime to match. We were joking that I was able to set a lot of firsts and special things because I'm a girl, but it's kind of like a side note. Yes, I'm excited, but almost all of my competitors are men so it's not going to get me very far if I'm only worried about the girls and what we're doing. Melanie Troxel and I are both here to beat everybody. We don't care what gender. That's kind of how I've always felt about it. The girl thing is out the window with a team of guys and I finally feel like I am one of the guys. It's not so much about the girl thing that we're actually able to make some history in this sport, not based on the gender thing. There are a lot of good drivers and a lot of good teams out there. Any time you can do anything that is special and makes headlines that is a good day's work. We'll take it but I've had many years here watching my Dad, 27 years here, I'm sure I've been to every Indy since I was born, but it's special to be on the other end of things. Not being the kid in the Winner's Circle watching my Dad, but now to be racing my Dad and in the Winner's Circle it's pretty surreal. I can think back and I have so many memories. I have bad memories, fires that Dad had sitting up in the same tower watching him with tears in our eyes, visiting him in the burn center. So many highs and lows here because it's such a big race, but today is a high and however many years we have to go we'll always remember this one. Of course there's last year's too, but this one is pretty special."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Ashley Force , Melanie Troxel , Frank Hawley