Ashley provisional ninth after his busiest racing day ever CLERMONT, Ind. (August 31, 2007) -- From unveiling a tribute car and announcing an addition to his racing operation for 2008 to attending two press conferences and a photo shoot, it was...
Ashley provisional ninth after his busiest racing day ever
CLERMONT, Ind. (August 31, 2007) -- From unveiling a tribute car and announcing an addition to his racing operation for 2008 to attending two press conferences and a photo shoot, it was the busiest day of racing Mike Ashley has ever had, and it all ended with a 4.804/324.67 qualifying run at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals to earn a provisional No. 9 spot.
"I can't remember when I was so busy at the race track," Ashley said. "Today was incredibly emotional, but, I have to say, it was a great day."
Like most days for the Long Island, New York mortgage banker, Ashley started with a brisk three-mile jog to get his mind and body clear. After that, it was off to a photo shoot for the elite drivers who qualified for the Countdown to Four.
Once he arrived at O'Reilly Raceway Park, he was shuttled to a Driver's meeting before he could even put his briefcase down, and then it was a press conference for the eight drivers who made the Skoal Showdown -- a $100,000 race-within-a-race to be contested on Sunday afternoon.
From there, he rushed to a 4:45 p.m. press conference where he announced that Top Fuel driver Melanie Troxel would be joining his Gotham City Racing team as a driver in a second Torco Race Fuels-sponsored Funny Car next year.
"I'm really excited about Melanie joining our team next year. She has such a great personality and will fit with our team so well, not to mention that she's an awesome driver. I couldn't be happier," Ashley said.
At 5:45, Ashley received a plaque and was introduced to the crowd at ORP in a special ceremony along with all the other drivers who made the NHRA's playoffs.
"If you think about it, really, we have done something truly remarkable. I mean, this is my first year owning a Funny Car team, and we made it to the Countdown and the Skoal Showdown. Just two years ago, at my first race in Funny Car, we didn't even qualify. Now, we're a part of the playoffs and among the very best qualifying cars in our sport. I'm so proud of our team," he said.
To top it off, as he pulled to the line for his lone qualifying pass of the day, there was an amazing ceremony unveiling a unique, Chip Foose-designed tribute car Ashley will drive only at the U.S. Nationals and then the car will be auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., with all the funds raised going to support the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation. The Foundation was created to help parents who suffer the loss of a child before or just after birth.
"There's nothing more tragic to lose a child, and my friends Donnie and Hollie Faulkner had to deal with that recently. Evan Knoll, my sponsor, called me and asked if I would run a special car for this race as a way to help the Foundation, and, of course, I didn't hesitate to say yes.
"It's amazing, really, to see how many people have gotten together to help -- people like Evan and Jim Jannard of Oakley, Chip Foose, Mark and Allan Adkins of Illusions and so many more. This truly was an emotional outpouring of love and support, and it's an honor to be carrying the banner for them," he said.
After the unveiling, Ashley proceeded to run a straight shot down the left lane and post a 4.804/324.67 to take a provisional No. 9 spot after the first day of qualifying at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park just outside of Indianapolis, Ind.
"It was a good, clean run, just a little soft," Ashley explained. "We wanted to put down something like a '77, but we didn't hit it hard enough. No matter, though, it was a great baseline for the rest of qualifying, and will be something we can improve on tomorrow and Sunday.
"I can't remember when I've had so much to do at the racetrack in one day, but, like I said, it was a great day, and I'm so glad to be back here at Indy, where it all started for me in Funny Car."