DEARBORN, Mich., April 13 – History was made Sunday at the NHRA Funny Car race in Las Vegas, Nev. Ashley Force, who made it to the final round in her Castrol GTX Mustang, jumped up four spots in the standings to become the first woman to ever lead the Funny Car standings after an event.
Force, who is the daughter of drag racing legend John Force, defeated Tommy Johnson in the first round, Gary Densham in the second and Bob Bode in the third round before losing to event winner Tim Wilkerson in the final. It was Ashley Force’s second appearance in an event final in as many weeks and the third appearance in her last six starts. She remains the only female driver ever to reach a Funny Car final.
“The thing about drag racing that we all know is you can go from hero to zero very quickly,” said Force. “We are enjoying (success) now while we have it, but we know there are three other teams in our camp alone who are gunning for that number one spot.
“(Actually), I didn’t know I was the points leader until after the race. I was surprised. It definitely made not winning a little better, and losing to Wilkerson made it a little bit easier because we’re such good friends with he and his family.”
Robert Hight, Force’s teammate at John Force Racing, made it to the second round and remains fourth in the standings, just 36 points behind Ashley for the lead. John Force failed to qualify for the race but remains in the top 10 in the standings.
“All around, I’m happy with my teams,” said John Force. “Ashley did well. She leaves here with the points lead (but) I told her not to get that in her head because that’ll jump around.
“Robert is still in it (in fourth place) and I’m still up in the top 10 (No. 8). Mike Neff is learning the game and he and John Medlen are gonna win some rounds in the Old Spice Mustang, but I’m very proud of Ashley.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series both ran in Phoenix, Ariz., this weekend and Carl Edwards led all Ford drivers in both races, landing two top-five finishes.
Edwards drove his No. 99 Fusion to a fourth place finish in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race. He had one of the best cars in the field, and after some bad luck in the middle of the race, he had to work his way up from 34th position.
On the 115th lap, Edwards was caught on pit road when a caution flag flew, forcing him to lose a lap on the field. After that, Edwards lost more positioning as he had to take a pass-through penalty when his pit crew was over the wall too early. Still, Edwards was able to work his way through the field to get his fourth top-five finish in only eight races this season.
When Edwards was asked if he had ever passed that many cars in one day, he replied, “No, I don’t know that I’ve ever passed that many cars at a race track ever. The car was really good. That’s a great Ford Fusion there, but we just got some setbacks there, one penalty and one tire got loose.”
Greg Biffle joined Edwards in the top 10 with a ninth place finish. Biffle was competitive for the majority of the race, running in the top 10 for 231 of the 312 laps.
In Friday night’s Nationwide Series race, Edwards clearly had the strongest car in long, but a series of late cautions would not allow any runs of more than five laps over the final 22 laps of the race and Edwards had to settle for a second place finish after battling for the lead with winner Kyle Busch.
Despite missing out on victory, Edwards was able to close in on the points lead, pulling to within 24 points of leader Clint Bowyer.
“If the fans don’t like that one, I don’t know what you came for,” said Edwards. “That was a pretty good race right there. I needed a couple of more laps; I didn’t need that last caution. I had a good run on him in our World Financial Group Ford was great. I just hate to lose that thing.”
David Ragan had a solid race and rounded out the top five in his No. 6 Fusion and remains fourth in the standings, just 121 points out of first place.
Next weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Series will compete in Mexico City, Mexico, while the FIA GT3 European Championship and the GT4 European Cup both begin their seasons at the Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain.
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