Richmond: Mike Ashley preview

Ashley anxious to take the winning shot in Richmond DINWIDDE, Va. (October 1, 2007) - After 20 events, three wins, four final round appearances, five No. 1 qualifiers, and six track speed records - including the fastest run in Funny Car history,...

Ashley anxious to take the winning shot in Richmond

DINWIDDE, Va. (October 1, 2007) - After 20 events, three wins, four final round appearances, five No. 1 qualifiers, and six track speed records - including the fastest run in Funny Car history, the entire NHRA season comes down to one race for Torco Race Fuels driver Mike Ashley. Currently seventh in the POWERade Funny Car Championship race, Ashley is battling the top five drivers for one of four spots to continue his quest for the title, and is confident as always that his team will come through with a Championship performance this weekend at his sponsor's title race: the Torco Race Fuels NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia.

"You can't get where we are without having done a lot of things right, and this team is so fired up and ready to go, I am convinced we'll get past this eliminations round and go for the Championship in Vegas and Pomona," Ashley said.

Ashley currently sits outside the bump for making the playoffs, but is less than one round-win out of advancing to the final rounds. With fourteen-time champion John Force sidelined after surviving a spectacular crash at the event in Dallas, Ashley is only 12 points out of fourth place, and two round-wins out of third, depending on how competitors Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Gary Scelzi perform in Richmond. To advance and compete in the finals, Ashley must be in the top four after this weekend's event.

"We've been is several clutch situations already this year, and, every time this team has had the ball passed to them, they've responded with the clutch shots that prove they are already champions. It's like in basketball, one of those times when you don't think about whether you'll make the shot, you just want the ball, because you know what will happen when you get your fingers on it - you'll put it through the hoop.

"I'm ready - just throw me the ball," he said.

Ashley, who became team owner and brought together his team just this year, is no stranger to high-pressure situations. In racing, he has won two World Championships in AMS Pro Modified competition, each one coming during eliminations at the final race of the season. In business, as a mortgage banker from New York, Ashley is embroiled in the current credit crisis in America, and as Vice President and Chief Strategist, has positioned his company, Lend America, to not only weather the storm, but is actually growing his core business through the use of government-backed loan programs.

"For me, pressure is a fact of life. I don't seek it out, but I am always comfortable in it because I know I'm surrounded by the very best. Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald [Ashley's crew chiefs] and the rest of the guys have proven over and over this year that they know how to make this car run, and I know they will be on their game come this weekend," Ashley said.

About John Force, Ashley said, "His crash and injuries in Dallas were a huge reminder that this is a very serious sport, but the advancements in safety that have been made are proving themselves continually.

"I know that Brian has been working with our chassis-builder, Murf McKinney, to adapt the car and make it safer in the wake of what happened, and I agree that everything we can do to keep things safe are in the best interest of everyone in this sport. There are so many brilliant minds working on things to keep making them better, it's actually really exciting to be involved in such cutting-edge stuff.

"My heart and prayers go out to John and his family and team. I know he's desperately disappointed he can't race here this weekend, but right now, he just needs to take care of himself. John is an amazing man and a true hero, and I know he'll get better really soon," Ashley said.

-credit: gcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman , Mike Ashley