FORCE HOOD RETURNS TO PACIFIC RACEWAYS -- SITE OF HER DRAMATIC 2007 CRASH -- AS 'MORE EXPERIENCED' POINTS LEADER KENT, Wash. -- Ashley Force Hood remembers the out of control feeling she experienced at Pacific Raceways in 2007 as her Castrol ...
FORCE HOOD RETURNS TO PACIFIC RACEWAYS -- SITE OF HER DRAMATIC 2007 CRASH -- AS 'MORE EXPERIENCED' POINTS LEADER
KENT, Wash. -- Ashley Force Hood remembers the out of control feeling she experienced at Pacific Raceways in 2007 as her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lurched sideways near mid-track during eliminations. The car impacted the guardwall, blasted a streak of fire and spun around so hard that the carbon fiber body flipped off the chassis. She escaped from the incident without physical injury. However, she emerged with an edge in the mental category as a more experienced driver of the 7,000 horsepower Funny Car.
What a difference two years can make.
She will enter the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals, July 17-19 at the multipurpose motorsports facility near Seattle as the series points leader (currently tied with Ron Capps), riding high from a victory at Houston and runner-up finishes at Atlanta, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown and last weekend at Denver. That's quite impressive for a young woman who has literally taken the once male dominated category by storm.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Bartone (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.
For Force Hood, the crash at Pacific Raceways must seem like it was two decades ago. But she says it actually was somewhat of a turning point in her career.
"It [the crash at Pacific Raceways] was actually a good thing for me," Force Hood said. "Obviously you never want to be in a wreck; you never want to hurt your race car or obviously yourself. But I learned more from that one run than a hundred good runs because I was able to take that experience, and the next time I was in a situation similar to that, react off of it, you know, knowing what happened in the past and knowing how far I could push the car and knowing where I was on the track and what was going on. And obviously I still have a long way to go, but I know that each different experience I'm in, like it kind of gets built up in the back of your mind because you're not thinking these runs through. When you're in that car, it's happening so quickly, your body is just reacting."
In addition to her five final rounds this season, Force Hood has also claimed four No. 1 qualifying positions and sports an elimination record of 25-12. She is looking forward to continuing her momentum at Pacific Raceways during the Western Swing.
"It's an exciting time of year for me," Force Hood said. "We want that much more to do well in front of our West Coast people and a lot of our sponsors from this side of the country, a lot of our family and friends that will come out to these events, so there's kind of that excitement in the air and knowing that right around the corner, you know, the Countdown [to 1] is going to begin, and Indy is coming up. So we are trying to stay focused and not let ourselves get in any kind of a lull."
She knows that tough competitors like Tony Pedregon, co-points leader Capps, Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Bob Tasca -- all five joining her as event winners this season -- are lurking around the corner, working hard to get another victory and claim the points lead.
"With every final we have gone to and every race that we have done well at, we have tried to not get too far ahead of ourselves and know that it could change very instantly and just keep working at it and keep trying to go a round every weekend and try to be consistent," she said. "Hopefully at the end of the summer, we can still be up high in the points."
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown has claimed three victories and holds the series lead over hard-charging challengers Larry Dixon and Tony Schumacher. Schumacher is a four-time winner at Pacific Raceways, while Dixon claimed his only Seattle win in 2003, when he swept the Western Swing. Cory McClenathan and Brandon Bernstein are also past winners of the event.
Jeg Coughlin, Mike Edwards and Line have been the major headliners in Pro Stock competition this season. All three are past winners at Pacific Raceways. Denver winner Allen Johnson, who won at Seattle in 2006, will try to continue his momentum in the Western Swing.
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 17 and noon and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 19.
* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA Northwest Nationals by calling Pacific Raceways at (253) 639-5927 or via the Internet at www.ticketreturn.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET) on Saturday July 18. On Sunday, July 19, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 9 p.m. (ET).
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The NHRA Northwest Nationals also will feature competition in eight categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9:15 a.m. on July 17. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. on July 18.