Phoenix: Mike Ashley Saturday summary

Consistency Earns Mike Ashley Number 14 in Phoenix (Chandler, Ariz. February 25, 2006) -- NHRA Funny Car driver Mike Ashley secured the No. 14 qualifying position in his Skull Gear Chevy Monte Carlo at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals...

Consistency Earns Mike Ashley Number 14 in Phoenix

(Chandler, Ariz. February 25, 2006) -- NHRA Funny Car driver Mike Ashley secured the No. 14 qualifying position in his Skull Gear Chevy Monte Carlo at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona by running consistently throughout qualifying.

Setting the pace in the third round at mid-day with a track temperature of 103 degrees and an air temperature of 81, Ashley's 4.80 second, 323 mile per hour pass was the fastest of the session and third quickest. As he crossed the finish line, the engine flashed and the body bounced, causing a small cockpit fire that was quickly extinguished.

"The truth is that we ran out of gas. I did a longer burnout in that third pass and took a little longer to stage than I usually do, so we burned off a little too much fuel," Ashley said. "I guess we had enough for 1300 feet, not 1320, so at the 1320 mark we blew up and had a small fire, but it wasn't a big deal at all, other than damaging our beautiful Skull Gear body.

"We pulled out our spare body which is just as beautiful, and the guys got the car back together and ready for the next run," he said.

In the final qualifying run under similar track conditions, the car smoked the tires recording his only sub-4.80-second run of the weekend.

"The great news is that we wound up qualified for the field at number 14, which is a step up from finishing number 17 in Pomona," he said.

"We're in an experimental phase right now with our program, and we're willing to take a step back to figure things out with all new equipment. Our goal is to be a top-five qualifying team by mid-season, so, to be learning and make the show on Sunday is a great feeling," Ashley said.

-gcr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Ashley