Sonoma: Mike Ashley preview

Ashley looking for a winning birthday weekend SONOMA, Calif. (July 24, 2007) - Just like a fine wine improves with age, Funny Car driver Mike Ashley can look back at the past year and revel in the maturity he and his Gotham City Race team have...

Ashley looking for a winning birthday weekend

SONOMA, Calif. (July 24, 2007) - Just like a fine wine improves with age, Funny Car driver Mike Ashley can look back at the past year and revel in the maturity he and his Gotham City Race team have experienced. As he prepares for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infenion Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. this weekend, Ashley hopes to celebrate the end of the 'Western Swing' and his 42nd birthday with a win in the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T.

As he entered this race last year, the New York mortgage banker was ranked 17th in POWERade Championship points but was coming off his best qualifying effort ever (No. 4 in Seattle the week prior), and went on to enjoy his first two round wins of the season en route to his first-ever semifinal finish. The 2007-vintage Mike Ashley carries much more experience and success into this year's event, but his note of confidence remains consistent.

"Realistically, last year was a building year for me, and I said it over and over again," Ashley said. "Since it was my first full year of Funny Car, the tracks were all new and I was learning the finer points of driving an 8,000-horsepower machine. This year we have all come together as a team and experienced the kind of success I knew we would."

Ashley is firmly ensconced in the No. 3 position in POWERade Championship points and poised to make the cut in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. He has to his credit two event wins, one runner-up and three semifinal finishes, three consecutive No. 1 qualifying performances, and five track speed records, including recording the fastest-ever run in Funny Car history at 334.32 mph.

"What a difference a year makes, right? We've really come a long way, and I have to give a lot of credit to Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, Steve Boggs and the rest of the team. These guys really are the ones who have gotten the Torco Dodge into shape and running so well.

"Now, at the end of a six-week marathon, I know the guys really want to cap this off with a win, and I think we definitely know the track well enough to do that. We ran really strong here last year, and we just need to seal the deal with two more round wins on Sunday. It's do-able, and I'm confident we will get the job done.

"My birthday is on Monday, so I'm really looking forward to a gift that starts with a "W" this weekend. Sonoma is so beautiful, I'm really going to enjoy everything I can," Ashley said.

-credit: gcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Ashley