JOHN FORCE/ASHLEY FORCE
Pre-Race Package for the Summit Southern Nationals
April, 25-27, 2008
Sixth of 24 Events in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series
Participating this week in his 500th NHRA national event, John Force has an opportunity this week to become the first pro drag racer ever to win 1,000 competitive rounds. The 58-year-old icon, still rehabilitating from injuries suffered in a crash last Sept. 23 at the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas, is just four rounds shy of that plateau. He could win all four of those four rounds this Sunday in an event he has won seven times previously, most recently in 2005.
Meanwhile, daughter Ashley Force, 25, enters the race as the POWERade points leader, the first woman to sit atop the Funny Car driver standings in the 39-year history of the category. Coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes (Houston, Texas and Las Vegas, Nev.) Ashley will try to put her Castrol GTX Ford in the winners’ circle for the first time on the same track on which she beat her dad in the first round of last year’s race. Already the first woman to race in a Funny Car final and the first to lead the points, the graduate of Cal-State Fullerton will try again this week to become (1) the first to qualify No. 1, and (2) the first to win a race.
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John Force, on daughter Ashley leading the Funny Car points:
“The worst thing a driver can do is get wrapped up in the points chase. I was so excited when I talked to Ashley and she didn’t even know she could get into the points lead. She told me, ‘If it comes, it comes.’ and she wasn’t going to worry about it. She was just going to focus on racing. I am just glad she is not letting her ego get involved because that will mess you up quicker than anything.”
“At the end of the day every mother and father will always be proud of what their daughters or sons do. Laurie and I are proud of the kind of race car driver Ashley has become because she is learning to drive her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang the right way and she is so good with the fan, the sponsors and the media. She does such a good job of balancing everything and now to be in the points lead is just another big step for her.”
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Force Reaches Another Milestone with 500th NHRA National Event Appearance
John Force will be participating this week in his 500th NHRA tour event, becoming just the second driver in history (after Pro Stock veteran Warren Johnson) to reach that milestone.
. “When you’re put in the books next to someone like Warren Johnson, you can’t ask for anything else,” Force said. “The guy is a true legend. I looked up to him for years, even after we were on stage in Detroit and he called me “the Foster Brooks of drag racing.” He said, ‘you never shut up.’ One of my guys asked me, ‘doesn’t that make you mad?’ And I said, ‘let me tell you something, when a guy of that caliber tells you something, he’s probably telling you the truth.’ I’ve liked him ever since. He’s paid his dues. I respect what he does and I probably was a pain in his side, being on that stage, but I was having so much fun
“Tony Schumacher is in his 250th race (at Atlanta) and he’s going strong, but unless I croak, he ain’t ever gonna catch me ‘cause I ain’t gonna quit. I love it. I’m ready for another 500.”
John Force 500-Race NHRA Summary:
First race World Finals, Oct, 8, 1978, Ontario, Calif. Qualified No. 7; lost to Gordie Bonin in round one.
100th race Winston World Finals, Oct. 30, 1988, Pomona, Calif. Qualified No. 2; beat Jim Dunn, Bruce Larson, Mike Dunn and Kenny Bernstein for his fourth national event victory.
200th race Western Auto Nationals, Topeka, Kan., June 26, 1994. Qualified No. 1; beat Ronny Young, Dean Skuza, Al Hofmann and Cruz Pedregon for his 36th career win.
300th race FRAM Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., June 6, 1999. Qualified No. 1; beat Scott Weiss, Frank Pedregon and Randy Anderson; lost to Tim Wilkerson.
400th race Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 1, 2003. Qualified No. 1; beat Del Worsham; lost to Johnny Gray.
500th race Summit Southern Nationals, Atlanta, Ga., April 27, 2008.
Ashley Force on Danica Patrick's breakthrough IRL win last week in Japan:
"Good for her. It’s always great to hear when a woman in any type of motor sport has success. It reminds everyone that gender has very little to do with it."
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John Force Racing History at Atlanta Dragway:
– Atlanta is one of three national event tracks on which John has reached the Funny Car final round a record 13 times. The others are Brainerd, Minn., International Raceway and Maple Grove Raceway (Reading, Pa.).
– John appeared in every Funny Car final round at Atlanta from 1992 through 2000.
– John has seven victories at Atlanta, the most recent in 2005 when he beat son-in-law Robert Hight in an all-Team Castrol final.
– John earned both his 25th and 75th career victories at Atlanta Dragway, beating Chuck Etchells on April 25, 1993 for the former and Whit Bazemore on May 16, 1999 for the latter.
Ashley Force Racing History at Atlanta Dragway:
– Ashley made history in her pro debut in the Summit Southern Nationals last season when she beat her father in the first round in the first father-versus-daughter competition in pro sports history. That made her the first woman ever to win an NHRA racing round against John Force.
– In 2006, Ashley won the Top Alcohol Dragster championship while driving an A/Fuel dragster for car owner Jerry Darien, for whom her younger sisters, Brittany and Courtney, now drive.
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Funny Car – 4.680 seconds by Robert Hight, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, May ‘06; 331.04 mph by Mike Ashley, May ‘07.
Top Fuel – 4.448 seconds, 331.28 mph by Tony Schumacher, May ‘06.
Pro Stock – 6.627 seconds, 208.71 mph by Greg Anderson, May ‘07.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.976 seconds by Angelle Sampey, May ‘07; 192.91 mph by G.T. Tonglet, May ‘04.
Top Alcohol Dragster – 5.217 seconds, 280.54 mph by Bill Reichert, May ‘07.
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NHRA POWERade Series (after five of 18 races to determine the 10 drivers eligible to compete in a six-race Countdown to the Championship) – 1. Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 326; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Chevrolet, 321; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Advance Chevrolet, 294; 4. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 290; 5. Tony Pedregon, Q Racing Chevrolet, 285; 6. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge, 280; 7. Gary Densham, Racebricks Chevrolet, 260; ; 8. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 229; 9. Del Worsham, CSK Chevrolet, 219; 10. Ron Capps, Brut Dodge, 204. Also, 14. Mike Neff, Old Spice Ford Mustang, 169.
U.S. Smokeless Showdown (after 11 of 23 races to determine the eight drivers who will compete for a $100,000 top prize on Aug. 31, 2008 at Indianapolis, Ind.) – 1. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge, 1395; 2. Tony Pedregon, Q Racing Chevrolet, 1365; 3. Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge, 1310; 4. Robert Hight, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, 1300; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Chevrolet, 1280; 6. Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 1250; 7. Gary Scelzi, Oakley Dodge, 1230;
8. Gary Densham, Racebricks Chevrolet, 1140; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet, 1135; 10. Jerry Toliver, Rockstar Dodge, 1075. Also, 12. Mike Neff, Old Spice Ford Mustang, 900; 13. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 880.
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Television (all on ESPN2, all times Eastern Daylight):
Qualifying – Saturday, April 26, 6-8 p.m.
NHRA RaceDay – Sunday, April 27, 11 a.m.
Race Highlights – Sunday, April 27, 7-10 p.m.
Repeat race highlights – Wednesday, April 30, 4-6 a.m.
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Next Events (Countdown to Ten)
May 2-4 O’Reilly Midwest Nationals Madison, Ill. (St. Louis)