Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: From Home in California, Ashley Cheers on Sister ; Haskin: 'So Many Different Women Contributed'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: From Home in California, Ashley Cheers on Sister ; Haskin: 'So Many Different Women Contributed'

Article excerpt

Near the finish line of the Heartland Park Topeka drag strip, the Force family colors proudly flapped Sunday in the south breeze.

Atop a flag pole along a row of campers was a banner supporting the one Force racer who did not compete in the Kansas Nationals.

Yes, drag racing fans still remember, and adore, Ashley Force- Hood.

Typically, Force-Hood accompanies the family to NHRA stops. She decided to stay home in California for Memorial Day weekend and watch her boys, Noah and Jacob, toddle around.

Still, her spirit was present as a milestone Ashley helped record with four victories was claimed by Courtney Force. The youngest of the Force sisters captured the 100th victory among NHRA female drivers.

Courtney moved into her Funny Car shortly after Ashley became a stay-off-the-track mom. Fittingly enough, the win -- achieved with a final-round blast past two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon -- was also the fourth of Courtney's career, tying Ashley.

"Topeka is always a fun race. It's around the time school gets out and there's a lot more kids at the track," Ashley said by phone. "I'm kicking myself now. I wish I would have come, especially since Topeka is one of my favorite tracks, but this is the way fate was going to have it and I wouldn't change anything. I'm so happy for Courtney."

With Ashley, and her infectious smile, the joy and warmth is always spread around.

Her husband, Dan Hood, is co-crew chief of the Traxxas crew that tunes Courtney's Ford Mustang. Ashley's former crew chief, Ron Douglas, works alongside Hood in that capacity on Courtney's car.

"There's a lot of special people I root for on that crew, and it's extra special that they were a part of this," Ashley said.

Obviously, the four Funny Car victories Ashley recorded as a pro from 2007-10 provided her some representation among the 14 women who have triumphed at NHRA events, beginning with Shirley Muldowney in the mid-1970s. …

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