FORT WORTH, Texas -- Rarely has John Force ever been overshadowed in his racing career.
That's starting to change this year, and Force can accept that for one reason.
Force is not even the top-ranked driver in his family, as he prepares for this weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. While Force is a championship contender in the NASCAR Sprint Cup-style Countdown to One, it is daughter Ashley Force Hood who is a championship favorite.
"I try to be fair with all my drivers," said John Force, who has four of his John Force Racing cars in the 10-car Countdown. "At the end of the day, for her to win a championship is going to be tough. A lot of things have to fall her way to pull it off. But she's showed she can hold her own with me. As her father and team owner, it would be great to see that."
With five races remaining in the Countdown, Force Hood is second in the Funny Car standings, only one point behind Tony Pedregon.
John Force, a 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion, isn't ready to give up on his chances either. After one round of the Countdown, he's eighth in points.
The two Forces are vying for the title along with teammates Mike Neff and Robert Hight. But Force Hood, who is in the Countdown for a second consecutive year, is the only team member with multiple wins this season. One of those came at the MAC Tools U.S. Nationals, the NHRA equivalent of the Daytona 500.
She's been the best team car because she's had speed from the beginning of the year while her teammates have been searching for the right set-ups.
"We've really had a great season," Force Hood said. "Our car has always been pretty consistent. We can take it up a notch and be consistent, but quicker. We have the same group of people we've had from day one and that's been a huge difference."
While Force Hood has become one of the sports biggest stars over the last three years, it's been a tumultuous time for John Force. It started two years ago when JFR driver Eric Medlen was killed in a practice accident. Force was also hurt in a horrific crash at Texas Motorplex in 2007. After Medlen's death he focused more on improving safety in the sport than his racing.
That's starting to shift now, and his competitive side is showing. Pedregon accused Force of throwing a race at the U.S. Nationals, and the two got into an argument that was replayed on television screens across the nation.
It's not something Force is proud of.
"It's a good thing if you want to sell tickets," said Force, who has since talked to Pedregon. "It's a good thing if you want to put on a show. At the end of the day, my job is for the sponsors and the fans. They expect me to be a role model. The fact is it's not good for John Force."
Force isn't going to let the incident with Pedregon distract him from his goal of winning another championship. He hasn't won an event this year, but he feels like his team is on the right track.
While Force Hood would like to win her first title, she isn't writing off her father.
"They were trying a lot of different things early," she said. "They always seem to turn it around when they need to. It's been a couple of rough seasons for them, but that team always seems to do well under pressure."