Phoenix: Mike Ashley final summary

Parts Failure Ends Ashley's Day Early in Phoenix CHANDLER, Ariz. (February 25, 2007) - On a perfect day for drag racing - clear, sunny skies, cool breeze and tens of thousands of fans - nitro Funny Car driver Mike Ashley was extremely confident...

Parts Failure Ends Ashley's Day Early in Phoenix

CHANDLER, Ariz. (February 25, 2007) - On a perfect day for drag racing - clear, sunny skies, cool breeze and tens of thousands of fans - nitro Funny Car driver Mike Ashley was extremely confident heading into the first round of eliminations at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz. Confidence and good weather couldn't, however, make up for broken parts, and for Ashley, a $10 clutch part failure quickly ended what should have been a stellar outing for the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger.

As Ashley performed his burnout to prepare for his run against Tim Wilkerson, the clutch assembly broke, keeping the car from shifting into reverse and forcing Ashley to continue driving down the track and forfeit the run.

"You go through a series of emotions when something like that happens," said Ashley. "First frustration, then disappointment and then acceptance. It happens to every team, and it never gets easy. These are mechanical pieces of equipment and you have to face the reality that this kind of thing happens.

"The burnout was great, and I was ready to go for a really quick lap, but when I tried to get the car into reverse, the lever hesitated and then let loose, and there was nothing I could do," he said.

"I take things like this really personally, because I feel responsible to my sponsors and the fans. Evan [Knoll, owner of Torco Race Fuels] was standing at the starting line, cheering for me, and I just didn't want to let him down, but he's always so encouraging. He knows that this happens in racing - but I still feel badly.

"And I know that the kids at Stetson Hills that I visited on Friday will be watching the show on ESPN2 tonight, and I really wanted to give them a shout-out and let them see the thrill of racing. Instead, they get to experience the frustration and disappointment that goes along with it. You don't win all the time, but you keep on trying and working at it," Ashley said.

"Gainesville, will be exciting because we already know we have a top performing car and team, and we will have our new body with a new and very cool paint scheme. We'll keep moving forward," he said.

Ashley and the entire Torco team head next to the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 15-18.

-credit: gcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Ashley