Mike Ashley Happily Back in Funny Car; Happy to Return to Bristol Dragway He tried to stay out of the car this year but, after skipping every race since Pomona, the Chief Business Strategist for Lend America yielded to the Funny Car's call at...
Mike Ashley Happily Back in Funny Car; Happy to Return to Bristol Dragway
He tried to stay out of the car this year but, after skipping every race since Pomona, the Chief Business Strategist for Lend America yielded to the Funny Car's call at St. Louis (May 2). And it looked like he never left.
He had his rivals talking with a surprising run of 4.768 seconds at 327.82 mph on his final qualifying attempt that lifted him into second place and provided the fastest speed of the Midwest Nationals. He overcame tire smoke and rallied to nip his first-round foe by inches before bowing out in the quarterfinals.
Ashley, co-owner of Gotham City Racing with Roger Burgess, opted to resume driving to help the team gather data for his car and that of Melanie Troxel, who is making the transition from Top Fuel to Funny Car. Troxel, driving the ProCare Rx Dodge Charger R/T, ran her quickest time in the category, 4.802 seconds, at St. Louis and was the provisional No.1 qualifier Friday. She started 10th and lost a close race in the opening round when the motor expired.
Ashley had a breakout 2007 season, winning three times, including the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, qualifying first five times, earning one of the Countdown to Four championship series berths, finishing sixth in his first top 10 appearance and running the fastest pass in funny car history at 334.32 mph.
Now, he would very much like to recapture some of the 2007 magic this weekend when he competes in the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
"I love the track," he said. "I won my first race there in Pro Mod in 1990. It's a great facility and a lot of my team members are from there. Our paint shop is there and it's like a second home for me. It's my NYTC, New York Tennessee City, connection.
"I am loving being behind the wheel of the Funny Car," said a smiling Ashley of his Lend America/ProCare RX Gotham City Racing Dodge Charger R/T. "I am very happy with the progress of both teams. One very important point is that Aaron Brooks is coming into his own as a crew chief. He is proving that he has what it takes to lead a championship team. I'm proud of him and the entire crew on my car. Let's face it, I ran top speed of the meet and qualified second with a 4.76 . . . not bad numbers.
"I am proud of the entire Gotham City Race team. The team has pulled together and demonstrated that we really are one team with two cars. They diligently worked together through the issues and challenges that plagued us at the start of the season to get both cars back on track. That's how we do it on this team. We are resilient. We may get knocked down, but you can bet your bottom dollar we won't stay down."