Memphis: Mike Ashley Saturday notes

DNQ Means 'Do Not Quit' for Ashley MEMPHIS, Tenn. (September 15, 2007) - Lightning struck again in the Gotham City Racing pits, keeping Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, from qualifying in the O'Reilly Mid ...

DNQ Means 'Do Not Quit' for Ashley

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (September 15, 2007) - Lightning struck again in the Gotham City Racing pits, keeping Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, from qualifying in the O'Reilly Mid South Nationals. It is the second time this year he has followed up a win with a DNQ, the first being after his win in Topeka, Kansas when he failed to qualify at the event in Joliet, Ill.

"Talk about highs and lows," Ashley said. "We go from winning the U.S. Nationals in Indy to not qualifying in Memphis. Amazing.

"It's really disappointing, to say the least, but, we're not out by any means. I've said it before, not qualifying is something we have to deal with - and for us, DNQ means 'Do Not Quit' - which is exactly the attitude we're taking as we move forward from here," he said.

On his first run of the day, Ashley ran a 4.921/307.51 which put him in 13th heading into the final round. As he approached the line to make his final attempt, he did so knowing he had just been bumped out of the field by Tony Bartone and that it was his final shot to get into the show for Sunday. Just after the hit of the throttle, the cylinders began mixing and Ashley saw his chances of making the eliminations go up in tire smoke. At the line, his 6.629/140.44 just put a period at the end of his disappointing day.

"We just struggled this weekend with a gremlin somewhere in the car, and went through four complete motors in vain trying to find it. Up until the last round, everything was consistent, and I really felt we'd at least get in, but when I heard it banging and the tires started to skip, I just shook my head and said to myself, 'looks like Dallas will be the next time we get to go rounds,'" he said.

Dallas is one of Ashley's favorite tracks because of his success there; in 2006, it was the site of his first final round appearance, when he runnered-up to Robert Hight.

"We did really well in Dallas last year, and I know we'll have everything ready to go when we get back there," Ashley said.

Because Saturday, September 22 is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Ashley has already publicly stated he will not race or qualify that day, putting even more pressure on his team to make his Friday eliminations successful. Despite the Championship implications should he repeat his performance from this weekend, the New York mortgage banker and father of two remained firm on his decision.

"Listen, racing is not the only thing in life, and definitely not the most important. I take what I do out here very seriously, but I take life even more seriously. I have to live what I say I believe, and for me, my faith in GD and being an example and leader in my family takes priority. I know Evan [Knoll, owner of Torco Racing Fuels and Ashley's title sponsor] and my other sponsors understand, the team is with me, and I'm confident we'll perform well so it won't be an issue," he said.

Ashley isn't the first professional athlete who has declined to compete on holy days. In the first game of the 1965 World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax refused to pitch because game day fell on Yom Kippur. A little more than a week later, Koufax came back to beat the Twins in the seventh game of the Series, in what many consider to be one of the best pitched games in baseball history. Any lingering doubts about the rightness of his decision to miss the first game were completely obliterated.

Ashley said he is hoping to avoid putting any more pressure on his team, but knows the big picture for his actions.

"We're not going to force anything at all - we're just going to keep on our game plan and continue to run hard all the time. We'll be out here Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. testing to find our what our problem has been, get it fixed, and then head to Dallas to get in the field. That's the plan, and that's what we're going to do," Ashley said.

-credit: gcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Bartone , Mike Ashley , Robert Hight