Mike Ashley takes AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge at Houston BAYTOWN, Texas (April 18, 2004) -- Behind the wheel of a Unique Performance-built Shelby G.T. 500E '67 Mustang, Mike Ashley, from Melville, N.Y., defeated Zach Barklage, from...
Mike Ashley takes AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge at Houston
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 18, 2004) -- Behind the wheel of a Unique Performance-built Shelby G.T. 500E '67 Mustang, Mike Ashley, from Melville, N.Y., defeated Zach Barklage, from Eldon, Mo., for his first AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge win since Dallas in October of 2002. Barklage was driving a '04 Pontiac Grand Am.
The AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, was run as part of the NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil held this weekend at Houston Raceway Park, in Baytown, Texas, about 30 miles from downtown Houston.
Ashley was nothing less than spectacular this weekend leading every session during qualifying, taking the No. 1 spot for his first top spot since Gainesville of 2002, and then turning on the win light today.
"It's great! Oh, so sweet," said Ashley from the winner's circle. "We struggled so much last year but at the end of the year our 2004 season began. We put over 120 laps on our cars since then. It's starting to show now.
"We're number one in the points, number one in the shootout deal and we won this race today.
"Today is a significant day, not only because we won this race, but because we won this race on the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Mustang. I'm grateful for my all my sponsors: Unique Performance, Infinet Insurance and especially Carroll Shelby."
In the opening round Ashley defeated Scotty Cannon, who qualified for his first AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge. The reigning IHRA champ Mitch Stott defeated Al Billes, the winner of the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge at Gainesville.
On the other side of the ladder, the Gainesville runner-up Ed Hoover defeated Chip King and Zach Barklage, who has assumed the role of the hottest driver on the tour, turned back last year's hottest driver at season's end Von Smith.
The semifinals found Mike Ashley sending Mitch Stott to the trailer, while the 19-year-old Barklage, sent Ed Hoover packing. Barklage won over Hoover by one thousandths of a second on a holeshot.
Barklage's reaction time at the green light was .052 seconds, while Hoover was a little slower at .065 seconds. Time at the finish line was 6.229 seconds for Barklage and 6.204 seconds for Hoover.
Barklage credits his tuners, Mark Barklage and Chad Wilson, for his sudden found success.
"We learned a lot last year and this year has started out perfect," said Barklage. "I didn't expect to do this good this year this fast but I'm happy we are. Our hard work has paid off.
"My dad and Chad, together with tuning consultant Darren Mayer, are doing an awesome job tuning on the car. We're running well and, as a driver, I like it. It gives you added confidence to know that when you go to the track you can run those numbers and be right up there with the big dogs."
Of note is that Ashley ran the quickest elapsed time of the weekend in the semifinals 6.155 seconds and Barklage ran top speed of the weekend at 232.59 mph in the final round.
Sunday's final results from the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, the second of 10 events in the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge.
ROUND ONE -- Mitch Stott, Chevy Camaro, 6.222, 229.20 def. Al Billes, Chevy Corvette, foul; Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.194, 231.99 def. Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 7.721, 132.70; Ed Hoover, Corvette, 6.204, 228.58 def. Chip King, Dodge Avenger, 6.218, 230.72; Mike Ashley, Mustang, 6.224, 228.96 def. Scotty Cannon, Studebaker, 8.937, 102.38;
SEMIFINALS -- Ashley, 6.155, 229.31 def. M. Stott, 12.310, 94.39; Barklage, 6.229, 231.75 def. Hoover, 6.217, 228.54; FINALS -- Ashley, 6.180, 229.98 def. Barklage, 6.193, 232.59.