Wednesday, February 3, 2010
NHRA's Ashley Force Hood talks about downsizing, four-wide and Winternationals
His team became a casualty as John Force Racing decided to cut back from four NHRA funny car teams to three.
Ashley Force Hood lost to Neff in the funny car final at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Neff is still with the team, but he is no longer driving. Robert Hight, the 2009 NHRA funny car champion, John Force and his daughter, Force Hood, will be the drivers for John Force Racing when the NHRA season starts in Pomona for the 50th Winternationals in a couple weeks.
Force Hood talked about the downsizing on her dad’s team, racing against Neff and losing to him in the final at Pomona, four-wide racing in North Carolina and preparing for the Winternationals.
“I ran Mike in the finals in Pomona, which is actually a good thing,” Force Hood said. “We love to run our own teammates in the final. Other than in the final, you never want to run your own teammate. But you’re going to run into each other.”
Hight and Force Hood gave John Force Racing a 1-2 finish in the NHRA funny car standings. Hight won his first NHRA funny car championship. Force Hood had her best finish in three years of racing in the NHRA funny car division.
“But hopefully this year, we’d rather be beating the competition in the other camps than our own camp,” Force Hood said. “So hopefully we cannot run each other as much as the three teams and hopefully get one of these three teams in the championship spot again.”
Force Hood was asked about the new format at zMax Dragway in North Carolina. Cars and drivers will race four-wide, instead of the traditional two-wide, for the Carolina Nationals in September.
“And as for the four wide, I am embarrassed to say I didn’t even know it was announced until I had gotten a new computer,” Force Hood said. “I was in the weeklong process of getting everything moved over, which I’ve kind of been out of my -- kind of in my own little world working on that.”
Force Hood said a reporter called her to ask her about the changes and she was unaware of the changes, even though her dad was in North Carolina for the announcement of the format change.
“Well, I knew he flew somewhere but I didn’t actually know where he was going,” Force Hood said. “I think the guy thought I was -- I don’t know what he thought of me. I was a little embarrassed. But he got me up to date on the announcement and everything.”
Force Hood will be making her fourth appearance in the Winternationals. After making it to the final of the season-finale at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Force Hood is eager to return to the track she considers home.
“It’s just a huge event. The first race of the year kicks off everything,” Force Hood said. “Everybody new out there, new sponsors, new fans, it’s the race you want to do well out and start your year strong. It definitely gives you a great confidence boost if you are able to start your season on such a great note. And I think it’s going to be a big deal.
“I know that NHRA is promoting a lot and doing a lot of special events and activities. It’s going to be exciting. I hope we can do well there. It is a tough one to win because you are coming back after a few months off. You might have a change in crew members or changes with your car.”
Photo: Ashley Force Hood lost in the NHRA funny car final to Mike Neff in the 2009 season finale at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. (NHRA)