Championship Drag Racing

Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals
Chicago, Ill.
(June 5-8)

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Driver Profile
Ashley Force
Castrol GTX Ford Mustang

Force reaches semis; closes in on first place again

Chicago, Sunday: Ashley Force had the baddest hot rod at Route 66 Raceway for most of the day and she used all her driving skills to reach her fifth semi-final in ten races so far this season. In the end she was dispatched not by a superior opponent but rather a broken blower belt. This was the second time at Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals this frequent drag racing problem reared its head and tripped up the 2007 NHRA Rookie of the Year.

Her Castrol GTX team led by crew chiefs Dean “Guido” Antonelli and Ron Douglas was once again forced to set-up her Ford Mustang to race in a variety of conditions as rain blew through the facility forcing a nearly four hour delay today between the first and second rounds. In the first round she had to defeat her brother-in-law Robert Hight and had her confidence sky-high.

“This weekend I definitely felt like we were going to go a lot of rounds because my car was so good. The conditions were so difficult but we still ran well. Getting our car down both lanes really gave us some confidence,” said Force. “We had a really good feeling going into this race. It is tough on the team when you have to sit around in the rain. You have to focus that much more every round. We were ready every round and I am so proud of my guys. There were no mistakes. Bad luck just bit us.

After the skies cleared Force ran up against former Funny Car Champion Gary Scelzi. Force was able to get the win and head to a semi-final match with reigning Funny Car Champion Tony Pedregon. In the semi-finals Pedregon switched lanes moving Force into the right lane which was the preferred lane for Force according to co-crew chief Ron Douglas.

Force left on Pedregon and was in front for nearly the entire race before her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lost power just a few hundred feet from the finish line. Force’s heart sank as she felt the all too familiar reduction in power of her 8,000 hp fuel coupe.

“I had a good feeling that I was winning. It happened so quickly and it was at the very end of the run,” said the first female to win an NHRA Funny Car race. “It just died and I knew exactly what it was because it did it in qualifying. This time around I knew it was the blower belt. I looked over and he went right by me. It was the matter of an instant I died and it was over. I got on the radio and told them that I lost the blower belt.”

Force is now less than three rounds of racing out of first place in the Funny Car standing. She trails points leader Tim Wilkerson 638 to 695.

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