BRISTOL, TN – Ashley Force Hood’s legendary father may have raced a Superman themed Castrol GTX Mustang at Thunder Valley a decade ago but on Friday at the 10th annual NHRA Thunder Nationals Force hood ran like Superwoman. She piloted her Castrol GTX Mustang to the provisional No. 1 spot while her two championship teammates struggled.
By virtue of her strong opening session run of 4.289 seconds which was the second quickest of the session Force Hood was racing beside Bob Tasca III in the second session. As the sun set Force Hood blasted to the top of the pack with a 4.151 second run at 296.70 mph while Tasca smoked the tires at three-quarters track.
"I couldn’t see when my teammates ran. I was trying to listen over the radio. A track like this is really tricky but it also has really good conditions. If you can get it down you should be able to make a good run. We were trying not to base too much on what we were going to do on what other people were doing. The conditions were changing throughout the session. We looked at data from other races more,” said Force Hood.
“It worked for us on that run. I don’t know how close to the edge we were. It felt like a nice smooth run. I didn’t have any problems at any point during the run. They are very happy with that run. It is always good to run really good on the Friday night session. We also all know that it won’t do us any good on Sunday other that position for qualifying. Sunday’s conditions won’t be anything like tonight. It is fun to run in the night session and do well but we would be just as happy to get some good runs in tomorrow in the heat because that is what is going to help us for Sunday.”
2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight struggled in both sessions and ended the day with the 12th quickest run of the session. His first pass down the track, a 4.326 second run, when it was nearly 140 degrees held up as his quickest of the day. In the night session his Auto Club Ford Mustang lost traction at half track but Hight pedaled his Mustang a rare move during qualifying. Hight knew that every hundredth of second under the lights on Friday could make a huge difference under the sun on Saturday. Unfortunately he had lost too much power to improve on his time.
“We just missed it. If we would have been slower it would have gone and if we would have been faster it would have gone. In both sessions we just missed it plain and simple,” said Auto Club crew chief Jimmy Prock.
14-time champion John Force improved his position in the second session with a 4.216 second run. He was a victim however of improving conditions as well and his at the time 3rd quickest run eventually wound up 6th.
Force will hopefully improve his position but even if he does not there is a chance he could meet his daughter in the final round of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day. His daughter told the media that she would not be giving her dad anything more than a card for his special day.
“It is always special to be here with him on Father’s Day. There were a lot of times when we were kids and we did not see him on Father’s Day. He would be at a race and we might still be in school or busy. Now it is neat to be here racing with him,” said Force Hood.
“Even today already you have seen so many dads with kids out here on a Friday. It is a special weekend for them. There are a lot of fathers and sons out here racing as well as some fathers and daughters I am sure. I think it will be fun for everyone involved. It will be an exciting weekend and you have the holiday on top of that.”
“I wrote in his card that I am going to give him on Sunday that this card is your Father’s Day gift not any kind of win. If I run you I still have to beat you. If we could meet in the final that would be the perfect scenario. We’ll get to Sunday and if we can get any of our Mustangs to the winner’s circle it will be a good Father’s Day,” summed up Force Hood.
Tomorrow qualifying will resume for the Nitro categories at noon and 4 p.m.