Ashley ends strong with semifinal finish, nets sixth in POWERade points POMONA, Calif. (November 4, 2007) - Torco Racing Fuels driver Mike Ashley finished his "007 Bat with a Vengeance" season in sixth place overall in POWERade points and worked...
Ashley ends strong with semifinal finish, nets sixth in POWERade points
POMONA, Calif. (November 4, 2007) - Torco Racing Fuels driver Mike Ashley finished his "007 Bat with a Vengeance" season in sixth place overall in POWERade points and worked his way to the semifinals in the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.
In just their first year together as a team, the flagship Funny Car team for Torco made great strides and accomplished Ashley's goal of "fielding a championship-contending team."
"This was an incredible season, and I think we've proven that we're a force to be reckoned with," Ashley said.
"Success like we've experienced this year comes from great leadership, and the line of leadership for us leads right to Evan Knoll. His belief in this team and me is what led us to the success we've enjoyed. When we struggled with DNQ's, he didn't hesitate, he was there for us, encouraging us, and we came back strong with a win. We made the Countdown to Four because of him and Torco, and came incredibly close to competing for the whole thing.
"We had four wins total, five No. 1 qualifiers, set track records and we ran the fastest lap in Funny Car history - I'd say that's something to be proud of. And, on top of that, we placed number six in the world, which says a lot about the caliber of this team what we've been able to do with Evan's support," Ashley said.
Ashley had a prime opportunity to take fifth place from Jack Beckman after beating him in the quarterfinals of the NHRA Finals, but needed to win the entire event to earn the spot. Instead, Ashley went down in the semifinals to eventual event winner Robert Hight, 4.951 to Hight's 4.877.
"We put out a hole out on that run against Robert which cost us the round. The track had come back and was able to handle more clutch than we gave it, and that was the difference. That one was a little disappointing, because we definitely had the power to beat him," he said.
After earning the No. 7 qualifying spot, Ashley drove away from John Force Racing rookie driver Mike Neff in the first round, posting a 4.802/328.62 to Neff's 4.938/284.56. In round two, Ashley squeaked by Jack Beckman by .002 seconds or about ten inches - at nearly 330 mph. By the numbers, Ashley ran 4.795/329.91 to Beckman's 4.799 320.81.
"Now, that was a good ole' drag race," Ashley said. "I didn't know who won, because he was right beside me the whole time."
Crew chief Brian Corradi said, "Mike has really grown as a driver this year. When we started the year, he was still very new at all of this, and now, he's a seasoned driver and someone who really can get it done.
"I have to say that knowing Mike and becoming friends has been life changing for me. Period. The organization he and Evan have put together is the very best - and I really think that next year, we'll be right in the mix of things all season long, working on winning our first championship at the Finals next year," Corradi said.
Ashley added, "As we worked through the season, we made commitments to each other as a team, and I have to say, we did what we said we would do. The last goal was to finish strong, and we definitely did that. Brian, Mark Oswald, Steve Boggs, Tom, Danimal, Benny, Cameron, Bob, Robb, Mick, Angelo and Matthew - and the others who have worked with us all season long - I'm very proud of each of them.
"Next season, Evan's driver Melanie Troxel will be driving a Funny Car with us, and that, in and of itself is awesome. She is such a great person and her driving speaks for itself. I really am humbled that Evan trusted us enough to field a car for her, and I think I safe in saying that we will put her in the very best available and run for the Championship in 2008," Ashley said.