Troxel blasts to No. 3, Ashley ends successful test session in Pomona POMONA, Calif. (February 9, 2008) - Melanie Troxel blasted to the top of the field in the first session on Saturday and ended qualifying in the No. 3 spot at the CARQUEST Auto...
Troxel blasts to No. 3, Ashley ends successful test session in Pomona
POMONA, Calif. (February 9, 2008) - Melanie Troxel blasted to the top of the field in the first session on Saturday and ended qualifying in the No. 3 spot at the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals, removing any question about her ability to make the transition from Top Fuel to driving the ProCare Rx Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. Mike Ashley had a good testing weekend but failed to qualify in the developmental Chuck Hasse-built car he was driving.
Troxel delivered a stellar performance in the first session on Saturday, netting a 4.810/327.90 but smoked the tires in her second lap. Her speed of 327.90 m.p.h. was the fastest Funny Car speed of the event. Ashley ran 4.898/321.88 in the first session and followed suit with a tire-smoking second pass.
"What a feeling!" Troxel said. "This is why I was so excited to be a part of this Gotham City Racing team. Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald and all the guys have got such a great handle on this car, for sure. They were trying to get me back into the number one spot, and we just overpowered the track in that difficult right lane.
"Even though Mike didn't qualify, there's no one walking around shaking their heads or moping. Everyone is supportive and positive. It's a great team, and I think the performance on the track speaks to that," she said.
Ashley responded, "I'm very pleased with the way things worked out this weekend. Of course I would like to have qualified, but I told the guys coming in that this weekend was a test session for this car, and we really got a lot of great data on this new Chuck Hasse chassis. Once we get it dialed in, I don't think you'll be able to stop it. It's a cream puff," he said.
"Our focus right now is giving Melanie the best car on the track, and my job this weekend was to get a backup car ready for her - and we definitely accomplished that," he said.
Special guest, Medal of Honor recipient and former POW, Jon Cavaiani, buoyed both Ashley and Troxel today. Cavaiani, a close friend and special guest of team co-owner Roger Burgess, spoke at a dedication ceremony for the team's efforts of honoring veterans and welcoming the warriors of the Vietnam War.
Cavaiani said, "What these people are doing for veterans is so important to all of us. Bringing awareness to the veterans and POWs is so necessary, and I'm really honored to be a part of this special program."
One of only 107 living Medal of Honor recipients, Cavaiani was a prisoner of war at the same time as U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain. Cavaiani was released by the Provisional Government of Vietnam on March 27, 1973 and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his attempt to defend Hickory Hill on June 4-5, 1971.
Ashley said, "It's men like Jon who really put life into perspective. Sure, you could say that I had a bad day because I didn't qualify, but when you talk with a guy like Jon who was shot at and wounded several times while fighting for our country - he knows what a bad day is. He was captured and was a POW. I've never experienced anything like that. Not qualifying is nothing when you look at it like that."
Ashley added, "I'm looking forward to tomorrow, because I get to watch my team go out and compete. Melanie is a great driver and a huge asset to our team, and I know she will do very, very well."
Troxel will face off against Bob Tasca III when eliminations begin at 11 a.m. (PT) tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 10.