Mike Ashley Heads to the Arizona Desert Prepared for Success Chandler, Ariz. (February 21, 2006) - Preparing for the second race of his sophomore year in nitro Funny Car competition, New York mortgage banker Mike Ashley is keenly aware of the...
Mike Ashley Heads to the Arizona Desert Prepared for Success
Chandler, Ariz. (February 21, 2006) - Preparing for the second race of his sophomore year in nitro Funny Car competition, New York mortgage banker Mike Ashley is keenly aware of the task in front of him at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona. The two-time Pro Modified world champion has one thing on his mind: winning.
After narrowly missing the qualifying bump in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history at the 2006 season-opener two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif., Ashley, crewchief Mark Oswald and the Skull Gear/Torco Racing Fuels team head to the Arizona desert looking for a strong qualifying effort and race-day success.
"I have no illusion that driving Funny Car is easy or that qualifying and going rounds will come without hard work and focus," Ashley said. "I'm competing against the very best, and each of these teams out here is fighting to be on top.
"The guys are really up-beat about this season, because, let's face it, we're all living a dream," he said with a grin on his face. "Since I started driving the Skull Gear Funny Car last year, the cars have gotten quicker and more competitive at every race, and we've been running right up there with guys who have been doing this for years. With the testing we did before the season, both here and in Vegas, we're definitely in a good position coming into this race."
During the National Time Trials at the end of January on this same Phoenix track, Ashley's Skull Gear Monte Carlo ran 4.872 seconds at 298.54 miles per hour in a testing pass that was shut off at about 1100 feet.
"We were able to get some decent data here during the pre-season, so we have a pretty good idea about what the track will be like and what it will handle during qualifying and on Sunday. That, along with the lessons we learned from Pomona, makes me really confident that we'll move up into the pack," he said.
"Here's the point for me this weekend: the season is a 23-race marathon, and we are prepared for the long haul. We'll get our stride and keep moving up, because I know this team has everything it takes to win," Ashley said.
Nitro qualifying is scheduled at 4:00 and 6:30 p.m. (Mountain time) at Firebird Int'l Raceway on Friday, Feb. 24, and continues at 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. (MST) on Saturday. Eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday and run throughout the day. The event will be broadcast on ESPN2 with the qualifying show on Saturday, February 25 at 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (Eastern time), and final eliminations at 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 26.