Topeka: Frank Hawley final report

Hawley misses by less than eight inches in Topeka TOPEKA, Kan. (June 1, 2008) - Trying to ride the wave of his No. 3 qualifying spot in the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, former Funny Car world champion driver Frank ...

Hawley misses by less than eight inches in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (June 1, 2008) - Trying to ride the wave of his No. 3 qualifying spot in the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, former Funny Car world champion driver Frank Hawley missed advancing into the second round of eliminations by a mere .0015 seconds - less than eight inches at the finish line.

Despite delivering the quickest Funny Car elapsed time of the event, Hawley was defeated by current POWERade points leader Tim Wilkerson in a memorable side-by-side matchup. At the stripe, it was Hawley's slower reaction time of .113 seconds compared to Wilkerson's .072 that was the difference. Hawley recorded a 4.849/306.95 to Wilkerson's winning 4.889/307.79 shot.

"Well, obviously any loss is bad, and if you think you didn't do your job, it makes it even worse," Hawley said. "Aaron Brooks [crew chief] and the guys did an awesome job and clearly had the fastest racecar out here, I just wasn't the fastest guy off the starting line in the first round, which cost us the win.

"I actually had what I think was a decent light for me, the car ran great, and as the I passed the finish line I had the full expectation of the win light in our lane, but it didn't' work out like that," he said.

Hawley and his Lend America Dodge Charger R/T had been a model of consistency all weekend, keeping traction on a tricky racetrack every lap and earning his best qualifying position of his season. The fact that Hawley was even racing was a last-minute decision and adds to the remarkable nature of his performance. Mortgage banker Mike Ashley, the team co-owner, was scheduled to drive the car this weekend, but, with less than 30 minutes before the first round of qualifying, Hawley was tapped because of an urgent and critical business meeting that required Ashley's attendance.

Hawley proved once again why he is a world champion and a valued drag racing instructor as he stepped into the seat without a hiccough or missed step.

"For us, over all, it was a great weekend, because of the stellar way this car is running. It went down the track every single time we pulled to the starting line.

"Hopefully when Mike gets back in the seat, he's going to pick right back up where he left off and the team will pick up where they left off, and they will be putting Mike Ashley in the winner's circle.

"We're all a team, here, and we all work together. I'm just glad to be able to work with such amazing men as Mike Ashley and Roger Burgess, and I'm privileged to ride in their car," Hawley said.

-credit: gcr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Mike Ashley , Frank Hawley , Roger Burgess