Seattle: Mike Ashley final report

Ashley flashes to semifinal finish in soggy Seattle KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2007) - Mortgage banker Mike Ashley drove the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T to an impressive semifinal finish in the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals at Pacific...

Ashley flashes to semifinal finish in soggy Seattle

KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2007) - Mortgage banker Mike Ashley drove the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T to an impressive semifinal finish in the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., just outside Seattle. The 41-year-old Ashley fought a hard battle against 14-time champion John Force in the semifinals, giving up the finish line by less than 20 inches, 4.792/321.12 to Force's 4.783/317.34. It's the second time the two have met in the past two weeks, with Force holding the advantage now, 2-0 over the native New Yorker.

"Once again, another great race with the champ," Ashley said. "We were almost dead-even off the tree, and his car just had a little more in it than ours. I almost caught him, but I think the 'chutes came out a little early, and there just wasn't enough track.

"Still, our car is running right at the top of the pack, and we're solid in third place in the points, working our way into second, so, I'm very pleased with the weekend," he said.

Coming into this race, Ashley sat third in POWERade Championship Points, 85 points behind second place Robert Hight, and just six points ahead of fourth place Tony Pedregon. After today's event, Ashley has 798 points, gaining 35 points on Hight (now at 849) and distanced himself 20 points ahead of Pedregon (now at 772). The top eight drivers will advance to the Countdown to Four playoffs after the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Penn. August 16-19 - just three races away.

In the first round, Ashley faced Jeff Arend who was under the gun trying to perform well at his sponsor's race. Arend left the line with a slight advantage, but Ashley quickly chased him down and was pulling away when the car malfunctioned and the parachutes deployed at 1000 feet, putting an air-brake on an otherwise flawless pass. Fortunately for Ashley, Arend was fighting tire shake and wasn't able to catch him.

The quarterfinals saw Ashley paired against Gary Scelzi and the Oakley Dodge, another formidable opponent. Leaving the line only three-thousandths apart, the two Chargers barreled toward the stripe with Ashley taking the line by a scant .009 seconds - about 16 inches: 4.808/320.28 to Scelzi's slower 4.814/318.54.

"It was definitely a great day of drag racing, despite all of the rain. There was a lot of sitting around, waiting, but it was good for me because my son, Justin, was with me, and we got to spend some really good time together. He's a great kid, and having him with me made for a fun weekend, -- just with the guys.

"I can't say enough about my team, though. These guys give their heart and soul to get that Torco Dodge down the track. We ran the second-fastest speed of the meet, had great times, and were definitely on top of our game all the way. I am so proud of each of them," Ashley said.

After a quick trip back to New York, Ashley will fly into San Francisco and head to Sonoma, Calif. next weekend, July 27-29, for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

-credit: www.mikeashley.com.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Mike Ashley , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight