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Ashley Force

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Ashley Force

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Age: 24

Birthday: November 29, 1982

Occupation: Professional race car driver

Education: Esperanza High School (Yorba Linda, Calif.); California State University-Fullerton, College of Communications, B.A. in radio/TV/film.

Hobbies: Movies, video production, shopping, kickboxing, spending time with family and friends

Bio:

Like Father; Like Daughter. Ashley Force already has proven that she's more than just another pretty face.

Although she is featured in national print ads for Oakley's Riddles sunglasses and is one of the stars of Driving Force, a new real-life series on A&E Network, the 23-year-old is most at home in the cockpit of a race car.

Currently the standout driver of the 275 mile per hour Castrol dragster, a purpose-built hybrid in which she is contesting the 2006 NHRA Top Alcohol championship, she is poised to move up in classification at the wheel of a 7,000 horsepower drag racing Funny Car in which she already has tested at 315 mph.

That's pretty heady stuff for a former high school cheerleader who studied television and film at California State University-Fullerton.

Ashley comes by her "need for speed" quite honestly. It's all in the genes.

Her father, John Force, is the 13-time NHRA Funny Car champion and world record holder for quarter mile time (4.665 seconds) and speed (333.58 mph); the only drag racer to have won as many as 100 NHRA tour events (119).

Her sisters, Brittany, 19, and Courtney, 17, both driver Super Comp dragsters. Even her mother, Laurie, is licensed to drive competitively. The irony is that Ashley isn't motivated by a desire to succeed her father, but rather to beat him.

"I'm going to mess with him on the starting line," she joked. "I think a lot of drivers are intimidated (by American motor racing's 1996 Driver of the Year), but to me he's just dad. He'll be so worried about his little girl in the other lane that by the time he recovers, I'll be gone. At least that's how it is in my dreams."

Although she is projected as a 2007 Rookie-of-the-Year candidate in Funny Car, the elder Force has insisted that there is no specific time table for his daughter's assimilation into a category in which a woman has never reached the winners' circle.

"She needs seat time," said the driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. "When she's ready, she and 'Guido' (crew chief Dean Antonelli) will know it. Until then, her main responsibility is to (Jerry) Darien and (Ken) Meadows and the Castrol dragster."

Her Funny Car orientation, which began in 2005, accelerated this year when she began driving a new McKinney Corporation slip-tube chassis built to address her specific requirements. Previously when she tested, she drove her dad's Ford Mustang, a situation that proved unsatisfactory on two fronts.

No. 1, she was uncomfortable, physically, because of all the cockpit adjustments that had to be made to accommodate the difference in their physiques and, No. 2, she was uncomfortable, psychologically, because the car she was driving wasn't a back-up; it was the same Mustang in which her dad was chasing another NHRA championship.

Since moving to the new car, she's made incredible progress.

"She has a unique feel for the car," Antonelli said, something he attributes to her apprenticeship in Super Comp and Top Alcohol. "The truth is we've been holding her back (because) we want her to feel what it's like to have tire shake and dropped cylinders (a condition in which the engine isn't firing on all eight cylinders) at different points on the track.

"John's game plan is to get her in the program next year," Antonelli said, "but he's not going to green-light anything until he's comfortable with her ability to handle the car."

In her rookie season at the wheel of the Darien and Meadows dragster, as successor to such current pro stars as Melanie Troxel, Brandon Bernstein and Morgan

Lucas, she became just the third woman in history to win the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., the sport's oldest, largest and most prestigious single event.

She went on to win two more national races and, at the season-ending Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif., shared the winners' circle with her dad in becoming the first father-and-daughter winners of the same event in NHRA history. She capped the season by being named both Rookie of the Year and Driver of the Year in an NHRA region encompassing Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Despite her success, Ashley never seriously considered a career in the "family business" until her father sent her to Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School as a 16th birthday present. That led her to take auto shop and welding courses as part of her elective curriculum at Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Even though she began racing upon her high school graduation, her mother insisted that before she embarked on a full-time career, she had to earn her college degree. As a result, she spent her weekends racing and her weekdays in school, ultimately graduating in 3½ years with a degree in communications.

Ashley suspect things were going to be interesting the first time she expressed a genuine interest in pursuing a driving career.

"Dad said as soon as I got my car, I needed to start sleeping in it," she recalled, "because I guess that's what he did when he started out. He said I should walk around with my helmet on - like people wouldn't think that was weird."

If her choice of elective courses wasn't sufficient indication to her father that she might one day want to become involved in the family business, then certainly her fourth place finish in national points as a Top Alcohol rookie convinced him.

Force could not be more proud, nor more surprised.

"I'm a typical father who always wanted his son to grow up and drive his race car," said the 13-time Auto Racing All-America selection, "but I don't have any sons, so I always hoped one of my girls would have an interest. Ashley took auto mechanics in high school and I never even did that. It's great having her on tour with me."

As for hobbies, Ashley admits she's a movie fanatic, just like her dad.

"I go (to the movie theater) at least once a week," she said. "Sometimes he goes a couple times a day. I went with him once and he went to the first half of the movie. Then he got up and left because he told me he had already seen the last half. I think he went to see the end of something else."

Nevertheless, she has taken her love for the cinema a step further. She not only likes to watch movies, she has demonstrated a talent for producing them. Each year for the company Christmas party, she produces a movie that spoofs events and individuals in the sport, herself included.

Last year's movie was a parody of "A Christmas Carol" starring the elder Force as Scrooge and crew members and staff as the three ghosts of Christmas and other characters. It's title, "The Bi-Polar Express," was a not-so-veiled reference to her father's well-documented mood swings.

One thing is certain, whether she's making movies or starring in them, Ashley has her father's full attention and there's absolutely no chance he'll be sneaking out of this performance before it's over.

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It's official: NHRA's Ashley Force is named hottest athlete in AOL poll

It's official: NHRA Funny Car rookie Ashley Force is the hottest athlete in sports, according to AOL's recent online-voting tournament. Force, daughter of 14-time NHRA Funny Car world champ John Force, handily defeated 31 other female competitors to win the woman's bracket, where she was never seriously challenged in the five rounds, then soundly defeated New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, winner of the men's bracket, for the overall title.

In the women's bracket, Force trounced golfer Anna Rawson 71-29 percent, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler (72-28), golfer Paula Creamer (72-28), IRL's Danica Patrick (67-33), and softballl's Jennie Finch (79-21) to advance to face Brady. The final-round score was even more lopsided as Force racked up 86 percent of the votes to claim the title. AOL's Dave Hollander interviewed Force about her victory.

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Ashley Force shines on The Tonight Show

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story and photos by Candida Benson, National DRAGSTER

9/11/2007

Following her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Ashley Force, the rest of the Force family, and Force's boyfriend, Dan Hood, took a picture on set with Leno.

Late-night TV met NHRA Drag Racing Monday when Funny Car driver Ashley Force made a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the rookie driver shined brightly in front of the NBC television cameras. Force, whose father, John, appeared on The Tonight Show 11 years ago, was witty and charming while serving as a great ambassador for the sport. From her opening, “It's nice to be a girl for once,” when Leno complimented her attire to her “You know those days when you go to work and you just have a bad day? That was mine,” line when discussing her crash earlier in the season in Seattle, Force got her fair share of laughs and several hearty cheers from the crowd.

“The whole experience was really great,” said Force, who was featured in a five-minute segment on the program following actor Brad Garrett and in advance of a performance by Cirque du Soleil. “This is definitely one of the funnest interviews I have ever done.”

Though she wasn't seen by viewers throughout the United States until after 10:30 p.m., Force's preparations began well in advance of the airing. After spending the weekend on a mini vacation at Lake Tahoe, Force caught an early flight back to Southern California Monday and began preparing for her Tonight Show debut. With the help of friends and family, Force put together her outfit and did her hair and makeup in advance, arriving at the team's shop at 2 p.m. ready to go on stage.

With her entourage in the limo provided by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Force left the team's Yorba Linda headquarters shortly after 2 p.m., heading to the Burbank studios where the show is shot. The group arrived at the studios at about 3:30 p.m. and was escorted to Force's dressing room. While Force readied for her segment, which included meeting Leno and reviewing potential questions with him, the group who came with her was seated in the studio. After an hour of waiting, a last touch-up of makeup, and a final review of potential questions with a producer, Force was ready for her close-up.

Though nervous about falling as she made her way from the backstage area to the chairs on set, Force sailed through the appearance, telling anecdote after anecdote and throwing in basic drag racing information whenever she had the chance. Leno and Force covered everything from Funny Car racing to being the daughter of a well-known, eccentric father to her recent win in AOL Sports' Hottest Athlete poll.

“The whole thing felt so quick, and I felt like I missed so much stuff,” said Force. “I knew ahead of time it would be quick because I heard the people working on the show say that each of Brad's segments would be about five to six minutes long, so I figured that's what mine would be. So I knew I had to keep the answers short rather than rambling on like I do a lot of times.”

Force's Tonight Show experience didn't end once the lights and cameras were shut down. After taking photos with Garrett and some of the performers from Cirque du Soilel, Force and her group were invited to a private tour of Jay Leno's Garage, the impressive car collection owned by Leno. The group's tour guide was none other than Leno himself, who impressed with not only his collection but also his vast knowledge of the cars and automotive technology in general.

After giving Leno a gift basket that included Force's Barbie collectible, a team jacket, a hat, and other goodies, the group stopped for dinner before returning to the shop.

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Rookie-of-the-Year Wears Her Genes Well

Ashley Force wears her genes well.

Although a majority of her accolades last season came away from the track (including her coronation as AOL sports’ “Hottest Athlete” (a designation earned at the expense of New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady), the 25-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force showed enough promise at the wheel of the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang to win the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Road to the Future Award as the Rookie-of-the-Year in the NHRA POWERade pro series.

Based on what she initially learned in the harnesses of one of the world’s most powerful race cars, one capable of zero-to-330 mile-an-hour acceleration in just 4.6 seconds, the Cal State-Fullerton graduate is optimistic about a sophomore season in which she hopes to build on 2007 success that included a runner-up finish in the ACDelco Nationals at Las Vegas, Nev.

“I’m so excited about getting rid of my rookie stripes and going into the 2008 season with basically the same guys and same team I had last year,” she said.

In between appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ABC’s Good Morning, America, photo shoots for ESPN The Magazine, Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness and Penthouse (in full firesuit, by the way) and work as a spokesperson for the Auto Club, Oakley, BrandSource and Ford Motor Co., Ms. Force proved last season to be more than just another pretty face.

Even though she missed two races in the 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX Ford, one to honor the memory of fallen teammate Eric Medlen; the other because of temporary safety issues, the former high school cheerleader managed to finish in the Top 10 in POWERade points ahead of such notables as six-time series champion Kenny Bernstein, 1992 Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon, former U.S. Nationals winners Tim Wilkerson and Gary Densham and veteran Tommy Johnson Jr.

The first woman to race in an NHRA Funny Car final, she qualified No. 2 three different times last year in a car prepared by rookie crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli.

Still, it was the attention she attracted away from the track that most significantly boosted drag racing’s mainstream image.

One of the stars of the A&E Network series Driving Force, which ended a two-year run last season, she distinguished herself as a public speaker, delivering a motivational speech to a crowd of 5,500 at the 2007 convention of Dallas-based cosmetics giant BeautiControl, Inc., appeared in national print ads for Oakley, was featured in Ford’s corporate brochure for the Mustang and was a popular newspaper, radio and television interview subject at every stop on the POWERade tour.

As a result, she was one of Yahoo’s most popular internet search topics in the sports category, the only individual race car driver in a Top 10 that also included soccer star David Beckham, the Chicago Bears football team, the Boston Red Sox, tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams and NASCAR.

That’s pretty heady stuff for an admitted tomboy who once seriously considered a career as a race car mechanic, the basis for her decision to take elective courses in auto shop and welding while attending Esperanza High School (Yorba Linda, Calif.).

Ashley’s “need for speed” is all in the genes.

Her father is the 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion and only drag racer in any category to have won as many as 100 NHRA tour events (125). Her sisters, Brittany, 21, and Courtney, 19, are moving up this year to drive in the Top Alcohol Dragster class after two seasons at the wheel of Super Comp dragsters sponsored by BrandSource. Even mother Laurie is licensed to drive competitively.

The irony of all that is that Ashley isn’t motivated by a desire to replace her father. She’d rather just beat him, which she did the first time they raced side-by-side last season at Atlanta, Ga.

Even though she’s had to develop her driving skills in a fishbowl, Ashley’s transition has been almost seamless due in large part to her relationship with Antonelli, who moved over from her father’s team, and with assistant crew chief Ron Douglas, who worked previously for 1992 champ Cruz Pedregon, among others.

“It has been perfect how it’s worked out,” Ashley said. “When I first tested in dad’s Funny Car, I had the best people in the sport working on the car in Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. They’ve seen my dad through all his championships and Austin has been with him for all of his wins, but I was always so intimidated by them.

“Even as big a goofball as dad is, he’s still a great driver. He knows how to do it. How hard it must have been for them to have me involved because I knew almost

nothing and I always felt scared that I was going to mess up and make them mad at me.

“They never did (get mad), but as a new driver you always thought of that,” she said. “With ‘Guido’ I feel more relaxed and a lot less nervous because we’re both kind of in the same situation. He’s going through the same thing on the tuning side of things as I am on the driving side and I think it helps both of us understand each other.

“When you have two people that are both kind of new to it, I think it makes it flow a little better and when problems do occur they aren’t such a big deal,” she continued. “There were mistakes that I was going to make and there were mistakes he was going to make, so at least he knew the feeling. I knew he wasn’t looking at me going ‘why doesn’t this girl just get it?’ or ‘why is she making this mistake?’”

"She has a unique feel for the car,” Antonelli said, something he attributes to her apprenticeship in Super Comp and Top Alcohol. “She’s a quick study. You tell her something and she picks it up right away. There’s no doubt that she has a big future in this sport.”

Despite her success, Ashley never seriously considered a driving career until her father sent her to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School as a 16th birthday present.

Even though she began racing upon her high school graduation, her mother insisted that before she embarked on a full-time career, she had to earn her college degree. As a result, she spent her weekends racing and her weekdays in school, ultimately graduating in 3½ years with a degree in communications.

Her father could not be more proud, nor more surprised by her career choice.

“I’m a typical father who always wanted his son to grow up and drive his race car,” said the 14-time Auto Racing All-America selection, “but I don’t have any sons, so I

always hoped one of my girls would have an interest – but I didn’t expect it.”

As for hobbies, Ashley admits she’s a movie fanatic, just like her dad. However, she has taken her love for the cinema a step further. She not only likes to watch movies with fiancé Danny Hood, she has demonstrated a talent for producing them. Each year at the company Christmas party, she introduces a new film that spoofs events and individuals in the sport, herself included.

Now, though, she finds she spends a lot more time in front of the camera than behind it. Admittedly shy, it’s not a role with which she is totally comfortable. Fortunately, she has a father from whom she can glean a tip or two.

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JFR RACE REPORT

2008 NHRA Race Summary

6th race of 2008 season

28th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals

Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Georgia

April 24-27, 2008

* * * *

Castrol/JFR Highlights: Ashley Force wins historic first Funny Car title….John Forces races to final round en route to 999th career round wins….Three JFR drivers in Top 5 of POWERade point standings.

* * * *

ASHLEY FORCE MAKES HISTORY AS FIRST FEMALE FUNNY CAR WINNER

Beats Dad in Storybook Final Round to Win Summit Southern Nationals

ATLANTA, Ga. – Ashley Force put a new face on Funny Car drag racing Sunday by becoming the first woman to win a national race in a category that once was considered the last bastion of male superiority.

The 25-year-old did so with a flair for the dramatic, beating her father, drag racing icon John Force, in the final round of the 28th annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals to deny him his 1,000 winning round in his 500th NHRA tour event.

The result enabled the second generation driver to pad her points lead and dispel any lingering doubts anyone may have harbored about either her commitment to the sport or her competence at the wheel of one of the world’s most powerful race cars.

Her first win came in her 27th pro race and in her fourth trip to the final round. Denied in the two most recent events in the POWERade Series, first on March 30 by Del Worsham at Houston, Texas, and then on April 13 by Tim Wilkerson at Las Vegas, Nev., Ashley left no doubt this time.

With her father in a left lane that was the bane of every racer during eliminations, she sprinted down the favored right lane in 4.837 seconds at 320.36 miles per hour. Her dad was never in it, losing traction almost at the hit of the throttle and slowing to 11.223 seconds.

It was her second career win against her father, drag racing’s biggest winner, who lost the first ever meeting between father and daughter in the first round of the 2007 Southern Nationals.

“There are a lot of mixed emotions,” John Force said before the final. “I turn off the switch. If I win, that’s great but if she wins, that’s something really special, too. I’m just going to go out there and let my car do what it does.”

For the champ, who had won seven times previously at Atlanta Dragway and was appearing in his 14th Southern Nationals final round, most at any event in the series, his car let him down for the first time all day.

Now, he’ll move on to Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis where he’ll have another opportunity to reach 1,000 round win at next week’s O’Reilly Midwest Nationals.

“I guess the third time’s a charm,” said the woman who now leads the Funny Car point standings by 59 points. “We just knew that if we kept getting to the finals, we’d eventually get one. I kinda hated that it had to be against dad but I’m just happy to win an event.”

“We went a whole year last year and the biggest win I had was off the track (in AOL sports’ “world’s hottest athlete” poll),” joked the second year pro. “To finally get it done here in Atlanta, where I beat dad last year (in the first round in the first meeting between father and daughter), was special. He came over and he congratulated me. He told me, ‘good job.’ He told my team ‘good job.”

“I never saw him,” she said of her father, “and I never saw my win light, but they told me on the radio (that I had won) while I was coasting. I know he wanted his 1,000th win, but mom and I had it all figured out – he can just go do that next week (at the O’Reilly Midwest Nationals in St. Louis), on his (59th) birthday. That would be special.

“Antron (Top Fuel winner Antron Brown) and I are seeing a pattern here,” she continued. “When I saw him win in the semis, I suddenly got all kind of confidence because every final he’s been in (this year) I’ve been in, too. Not that that has anything to do with anything, but it’s little things like that where you feel a little bit more confident, like when we did our team dinner (on Thursday). Every race that we’ve done a team dinner, ever, we’ve gone to the final and now we’ve done it again.

“It’s an exciting time, you know, with Danica winning. There are a lot of women in a lot of different motor sports and we’re getting our practice, we’re getting our experience and we’re making our way toward those wins. It’s a good week for women and it’s exciting for the fans to finally have a woman winner in Funny Car, but I know that it’s the 10 guys on my team who got me to this point. I would never be here without them and without ‘Guido’ (crew chief Dean Antonelli) and Ron (assistant crew chief Ron Douglas). I’m proud to be a female in the seat but it’s those guys who got me here.”

The other two JFR Mustangs, both of them higher qualified than either of the Force’s Fords, were eliminated in the very first round.

Robert Hight’s streak of final round appearances ended with little fanfare in the very first round. That’s where the defending race champion was victimized by a loss of traction in the tricky left lane.

How the 2005 Rookie-of-the-Year wound up in the bad lane, though, was a story in itself. Actually, when his crew pulled the Auto Club Ford into the staging area, it was positioned on the preferred right side, as expected. However, crew chief Jimmy Prock’s concern about the condition of that lane after Del Worsham left an oil slick on his burnout, caused the team to swap lanes, which is the prerogative of the quicker car in each pair.

Unfortunately, after the cleanup by the NHRA Safety Safari crew, Capps zipped down the right lane without a problem in 4.875 seconds, third quickest time of the round, while Hight’s chassis unloaded when his car hit the bump and slowed to 5.975 seconds at 169.06 mph.

“Worsham oiled it in front of us,” Hight said, “(and) Bernie (Fedderly, crew chief on Force’s car) and Jimmy didn’t think that they had the track clean enough. So we had to deal with the bump in the left lane. The bump is pretty serious. You basically have to go up there set up for the bump. Obviously, you could navigate it because Ashley was able to. There wasn’t a lot of tire smoke in Funny Cars during qualifying but you look at today and there was. Guys were trying to press with the track conditions the way they were. You were trying to stay in the right lane.”

Although he refused to use it as an excuse, Hight acknowledged that his team was taken out of its routine because of several rain delays which delayed the start of the race by two-and-a-half hours.

Meanwhile, Mike Neff’s first round woes continued, this time against his boss and, perhaps because his crew, like Hight’s, opted to change from the right lane to the left. The result was almost a mirror image. The Old Spice Mustang lost traction at the bump, slowing to 7.179 while Force motored down the right side in 4.845 seconds, quickest time of the opening round.

“We’re disappointed,” Neff said. “It should have been a good drag race. We’re just upset with the way it all worked out after Worsham oiled the track. We went up there with lane choice, but they were skeptical as they watched them clean it up (so) we made the decision to follow Robert over there (to the left lane).

* * * *

Race Winners At-A-Glance:

FUNNY CAR: Ashley Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX ‘08 Ford Mustang, 4.837, 320.36 mph. def. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX High Mileage ’08 Ford Mustang, 11.223, 85.97 mph.

TOP FUEL: Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., 4.537, 325.14 mph def. Tony Schumacher, Long Grove, Ill., 4.521, 329.58 mph.

PRO STOCK -- Mike Edwards, Coweta, Okla., Pontiac GXP, 6.680, 206.20 mph def. Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Pontiac GXP, 6.680, 206.92 mph.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE – Andrew Hines, Brownsburg, Ind., Harley-Davidson V-Rod, 6.946. 191.40 def. Chip Ellis, Brownsburg, Ind., Suzuki, 6.958, 190.70 mph.

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR – Frank Manzo, Morganville, N.J., 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 5.558 260.81 mph def. Steve Harker, Gainesville, Ga., 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 5.569 257.83 mph.

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER – Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., def. Spencer Massey, Fort Worth, Texas, 5.356 268.92 mph def. Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., 13.147 84.11 mph.

* * * *

NHRA POWERade Points (unofficial standings after six of twenty-four POWERade National events):

FUNNY CAR - 1. Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 438; 2. Tim Wilkerson, 379; 3. Cruz Pedregon, 351; 4. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 323; 5. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 321; 6. Tony Pedregon, 319; 7. Gary Densham, 315; 8. Jack Beckman, 311; 9. Ron Capps, 276; 10. Del Worsham, 253; Also 14. Mike Neff, Old Spice Ford Mustang, 202.

TOP FUEL – 1. Tony Schumacher, 415; 2. Larry Dixon, 380; 3. Antron Brown, 373; 4. Cory McClenathan, 328; 5. Brandon Bernstein, 288; 6. Hillary Will, 251; 7. Rod Fuller, 244; 8. David Grubnic, 232; 9. Doug Herbert, 226; 10. Doug Kalitta, 221.

PRO STOCK – 1. Jason Line, 489; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 465; 3. Greg Anderson, 428; 4. Kurt Johnson, 394; 5. Allen Johnson, 372; 6. Mike Edwards, 359; 7. V Gaines, 314; 8. Warren Johnson, 307; 9. Justin Humphreys, 276; 10. Greg Stanfield, 275.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - 1. Andrew Hines, 289; 2. Matt Guidera, 264; 3. Matt Smith, 251; 4. Chip Ellis, 248; 5. Angelle Sampey, 177; 6. Ed Krawiec, 145; 7. Chris Rivas, 139; 8. Hector Arana, 118; 9. Shawn Gann, 117; 10. Craig Treble, 114.

* * * *

US Smokeless Showdown points (including Atlanta qualifying). Top eight in points following the Aug. 17 Toyo Tires Nationals at Reading, Pa., compete for a $100,000 top prize during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:

1. Tony Pedregon, Q Racing Chevrolet, 1505; 2. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge, 1495; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Chevrolet, 1455; 4. Robert Hight, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, 1430; 5. Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge, 1425; 6. Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 1360; 7. Gary Scelzi, Oakley Dodge, 1315; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet, 1300; 9. Gary Densham, Racebricks Chevrolet, 1285; 10. Del Worsham, CSK Chevrolet, 1200; 11. Jerry Toliver, Rockstar Dodge, 1165; 12. Mike Neff, Old Spice Ford Mustang, 1025; 13. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 1000; 14. Tony Bartone, 870; 15. Scott Kalitta, DHL Toyota, 815.

* * * *

TEAM CASTROL/TEAM JFR Details:

JOHN FORCE, 58, Castrol High Mileage Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.868 seconds, 313.80 mph

Race Results: Beat Mike Neff, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III. Lost to Ashley Force.

Notable: Won 999th round win in 500th national event appearance…Reached his 14th final round at the Southern Nationals.

Quotable: “There are a lot of mixed emotions. I turn off the switch. If I win, that’s great but if she wins, that’s something really special, too. I’m just going to go out there and let my car do what it does.” – JOHN FORCE

ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 11th at 4.897 seconds, 310.05 mph

Race Results: Beat Del Worsham, Jim Head, Ron Capps, John Force.

Notable: First Funny Car win for female in history of Funny Car class…Extended points lead… raced to third consecutive final round.

Quotable: “I guess the third time’s a charm. We just knew that if we kept getting to the finals, we’d eventually get one. I kinda hated that it had to be against dad but I’m just happy to win an event.” – ASHLEY FORCE

ROBERT HIGHT, 38, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.860 seconds, 312.93 mph.

Race Results: Lost to Ron Capps.

Notable: First time he has not advanced to final round at Southern Nationals

Quotable: “Yesterday in qualifying when we ran that lane (left) we had our clutch on super hold and tried to glide it through that area and it went. We were trying to run a little easier there. We had to run the best run we’d made all weekend to beat him (Ron Capps).” – ROBERT HIGHT

MIKE NEFF, 41, Old Spice Ford Mustang

Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.867 seconds, 309.42 mph.

Race results: Lost to John Force.

Notable: Still looking for first round win.

Quotable: “We are disappointed. It should have been a good drag race. We are just upset with the way it all worked out after Worsham oiled the track down and we are jockeying the lanes. We made a bad decision by changing lanes.” – MIKE NEFF

* * * *

NEXT EVENTS:

May 2-4 12th annual O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison, Ill.

May 16-18 8th annual O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

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As an Ashley fan myself I wonder if we will ever see her back in a race car now that she has had the baby. It seems that her sister Courtney has picked up where she left off.

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