JOHN FORCE/ASHLEY FORCE HOOD
Pre-Race Package for the 49th O’Reilly Kragen Winternationals
February 5-8, 2009
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
First event in the Countdown to the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Championship
John Force begins his 25th season with crew chief Austin Coil hoping to claim his 15th series title and re-establish his dominance in the NHRA Funny Car division. His daughter, Ashley, starts the year with a new name that reflects her December marriage to Daniel Hood.
The elder Force, who will turn 60 on May 4, spent last season regaining his strength after a 2007 crash in Dallas, Texas. The lengthy process was reflected in his 2008 stats (just one tour victory and a seventh place finish) but hew now says he is fully recovered from injuries that included a compound fracture of the left ankle and broken bones in his hands, toes, fingers and feet.
This year, he is embarked on what he has designated the “No Excuses” tour. With a completely revamped race car that includes a new clutch controller, new injector and new supercharger set-up, Force is both excited and optimistic.
He starts the year in a gold-and-black Ford Mustang touting Castrol Edge, a new synthetic from the company that has been his principal sponsor for the last 24 seasons. Although he’s won a record 101 rounds and 12 races at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, he’s won just four times in the Winternationals and only once since the turn of the century.
If he is to re-assert himself this year, Force likely will have to beat his own teammates to do so including Ashley, 26, son-in-law Robert Hight, 39, and crew chief-turned-driver Mike Neff, 42.
Ashley started her pro career at the 2007 Winternationals and reached the semifinals at last year’s event along with her father and brother-in-law. Hight went on to win the race for the second time in three years.
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JFR RACING HISTORY AT THE WINTERNATIONALS:
Wins – 8. John Force (1991, 1993, 1997, 2002); Tony Pedregon (1999, 2003); Robert Hight (2006, 2008).
Last year – John Force, Ashley Force and Robert Hight all reached the semifinals in their Team Castrol Ford Mustangs with Hight ultimately beating Cruz Pedregon for his second win in three years.
Notable – Robert Hight has won three races at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, none of them from a Top 8 starting spot.
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PRO POINTS (final 2008 NHRA POWERade point standings):
Funny Car – 1. Cruz Pedregon, Advance Toyota, 2561; 2 Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Chevrolet, 2468; 3. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge, 2457; 4. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 2442; 5. Tony Pedregon, Q Racing Chevrolet, 2440; 6. Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 2385; 7. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 2303; 8. Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger, 2302; 9. Mike Neff, Old Spice Ford Mustang, 2284; 10. Gary Densham, Racebricks Chevrolet, 2217.
Top Fuel – 1. Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster, 2703; 2. Larry Dixon, U.S. Smokeless dragster, 2445; 3. Cory McClenathan, Fram dragster, 2406; 4. Hillary Will, Ken Black Racing dragster, 2405; 5. Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster, 2370; 6. Rod Fuller, David Powers Homes dragster, 2368; 7. Brandon Bernstein, Budweiser dragster, 2327; 8. Doug Herbert, Snap-on Tools dragster, 2307; 9. Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools dragster, 2209; 10. David Grubnic, DHL dragster, 2194.
Pro Stock – 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Jeg’s Chevrolet Cobalt, 2523; 2. Greg Anderson, Summit Pontiac GXP, 2487; 3. Kurt Johnson, ACDelco Chevrolet Cobalt, 2450; 4. Mike Edwards, Penhall Pontiac GTO, 2388 (earned position on tiebreaker); 5. Jason Line, Summit Pontiac GXP, 2388; 6. Dave Connolly, Chevrolet Cobalt, 2383; 7. Allen Johnson, Team Mopar Dodge Stratus, 2363; 8. Greg Stanfield, PiranaZ Pontiac GXP, 2329; 9. Vieri Gaines, Kendall Dodge Stratus, 2234; 10. Ron Krisher, Valvoline Chevrolet Cobalt, 2158.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 1. Ed Krawiec, Harley-Davidson V-Rod, 2471; 2. Chris Rivas, Buell, 2466; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 2451; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson V-Rod, 2334; 5. Angelle Sampey, Karl Klement Buell, 2310; 6. Chip Ellis, Schumacher Electric Suzuki, 2284; 7. Steve Johnson, Snap-on Tools Suzuki, 2283; 8. Craig Treble, Matco Suzuki, 2270; 9. Karen Stoffer, Geico Suzuki, 2167
10. Matt Guidera, Mohegan Sun Buell, 2156.
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TELEVISION (all on ESPN2, all times Eastern):
Qualifying – Saturday, Feb. 7, 10 p.m.-midnight
NHRA RaceDay – Sunday, Feb. 8, 11:30 a.m.
Race Highlights – Sunday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
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NEXT EVENTS (2009 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship):
25th annual Arizona NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, Phoenix, Ariz.
40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, Gainesville, Fla.
22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, March 27-29, Houston, Texas
10th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 2-5, Las Vegas, Nev.
29th annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals, April 16-19, Atlanta, Ga.
13th annual O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, May 1-3, Madison, Ill.
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