April 1, 2014 — official release — Gary Nastase photo — LAS VEGAS, NV — It’s a good day to be John Force Racing.
In a notable test session and showing absolutely no signs of rust after more than three years out of the cockpit, Ashley Force Hood renewed her NHRA Funny Car license yesterday driving sister Courtney’s TRAXXAS Ford Mustang.
Force Hood made passes of 4.11, 4.04, 4.05 and a blistering 4.014 run clocked at 322 mph during Monday testing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Force Hood, who had not wheeled a Funny Car since the 2010 Auto Club NHRA Finals, was renewing her license. She rattled off a trouble-free first pass of 4.11, shutting off a bit early to a 292-mph speed.
“The run was really smooth,” she said. “Everything went better than I was expecting actually. It was nice, but it was nerve-racking. I feel like I have added five years to my life. I was glad when the first one was out of the way.”
“The hardest part was when I was starting out my team was brand new so we were all kind of messing up and learning together. Getting in this Funny Car all these guys are established and have a routine with Courtney. The spotlight will be on me if I mess up. I just wanted to do everything right and not mess them up or mess the car up,” said Force Hood, a two-time U.S. Nationals Funny Car winner.
“It was weird to be in Courtney’s seat and get tips from her. My husband, Dan (Hood) the last few weeks has been walking me through the routine. He was letting me know what was different. For the most part it is not that much different from when I drove. I know when I got done with the burnout I went over all my routine about three times because the reverse and the fuel are close together and I was just so scared I was going to grab the wrong one. You just don’t want to make one little mistake that will ruin the whole run.”
Sister Courtney also had her own set of emotions to deal with.
“It was a little crazy,” she said. “She obviously knows what she is doing out there. She has more experience than me, but it has been a few years since she was in the car. She ran a 4.11 on the first pass, and she clicked it a little early. That run was a little unexpected for everybody. She still has it.”
The goal of the test session was both to renew Force Hood’s license and to provide the 18-time Funny Car championship team with an in-house experienced driver in the event one of their current drivers was unable to participate in an NHRA national event for whatever reason.
Despite the renewal of her NHRA license, there is no current timetable outlining Force Hood’s return to full-time or part-time competition.