Inches separate force hood from funny car lead NORWALK, Ohio - Ashley Force Hood isn't greedy. Unlike many in today's society, if you gave the former high school cheerleader an inch, she wouldn't take a mile. She might, however, take a...
Inches separate force hood from funny car lead
NORWALK, Ohio - Ashley Force Hood isn't greedy. Unlike many in today's society, if you gave the former high school cheerleader an inch, she wouldn't take a mile. She might, however, take a victory; maybe even two or three.
That's because inches are all that separate the 27-year-old budding superstar from the Full Throttle points lead currently enjoyed by her father, 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force.
In the season's first 12 races, inches were Force Hood's enemy. She and her NHRA world record-holding Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lost 10 times by an average margin of .067 of second, once by .006 of a second; another time by .010.
Last week was typical of her season. After qualifying No. 1 at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn., the 11th No. 1 of her career, she exited in the second round when her 4.329 second time wasn't quite good enough to track down Tim Wilkerson's 4.313. The difference, once again, was inches.
This week, though, the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton hopes to make those inches her ally when the Full Throttle tour moves to Summit Motorsports Park for the fourth annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals. Even though she is winless this season, the former Rookie-of-the-Year (2007) remains optimistic.
"That round is kind of how our year (has gone)," Force Hood said of the narrow Bristol loss. "The car is getting down the track (and) I feel like I'm in a racing groove. We know it's just a matter of time until we win again. The biggest thing is that we're still going rounds and that's what you have to do to get into the Countdown.
"Robert (teammate and brother-in-law Robert "Top Gun" Hight, the reigning series champion) showed last year that once you're in it, anybody can win it," she said. "We just want to keep going A to B.
"We don't know what to expect as far as weather in Norwalk," said the reigning Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Champion, "but whether it's cool like it was in Joliet (Ill.) or hot like it was in Bristol, we know we have a car that will be competitive.
"I just feel bad for my crew chiefs, 'Guido' and Ron (Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas), and for my team," Ashley said. "They've worked so hard this year (without much of a payoff). But you have to stay positive. Things can turn around so fast in this sport."
Despite her failure to steer her green-and-white Ford into the winners' circle this year, Ashley remains solidly in contention for a $500,000 Full Throttle championship that will be decided in the six-race Countdown playoffs that begin in September at Indianapolis, site of her most recent tour victory.
A three-time Funny Car tour winner, Ashley is the only driver in the current Top 5 who has not won a Full Throttle event this year. It's a shortcoming she hopes to address beginning Friday.