Ashley 'Positively Third' after First Round Exit in Sonoma Sonoma, Calif. (July 29, 2007) - Six of the top ten Funny Car drivers in POWERade Championship points race went out in the first round of eliminations at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA...
Ashley 'Positively Third' after First Round Exit in Sonoma
Sonoma, Calif. (July 29, 2007) - Six of the top ten Funny Car drivers in POWERade Championship points race went out in the first round of eliminations at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, including No. 1 qualifier Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T. Ashley was eliminated in the first round by fellow New Yorker Tony Bartone.
The day was typical of the highs and lows Ashley has endured all season long. He started by descending the grandstands to the excited screams of fans to receive his top-qualifier award from Skoal. His hopes at taking home a Wally to start his 42nd birthday celebrations on Monday went up in smoke, however, after about 200 feet of track against Bartone who delivered a 5.038/253.85 to Ashley's 6.584/147.28.
Crew Chief Brian Corradi said, "We were a little too aggressive for what we thought the track would handle, and it just blew the tires off early in the pass."
Maintaining his positive outlook, Ashley said, "I still believe this is the very best team in drag racing today. Let's face it, we're definitely disappointed, but we have nothing to be ashamed of. It's a beautiful day, the facilities here in Sonoma are awesome, and I'm surrounded by such amazing people.
"The up side of this weekend is, we didn't lose our position in the Countdown - we actually moved up because of our great qualifying effort, and we moved up a spot in the Skoal Showdown, too. Overall, it's really a huge positive weekend for us," Ashley said.
Other POWERade top-ten drivers who lost first round include points leader Ron Capps, Tony Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Gary Scelzi, and Jim Head. Unofficially, Ashley holds a 35-point advantage over fourth-place Pedregon and 36-point lead over fifth-place Beckman - his two closest competitors both vying for a higher spot. The top eight drivers will advance to the Countdown to Four playoffs after the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Penn. August 16-19 - now just two races away.
"I love this playoff-type atmosphere and the new format, because I think it adds a lot to every run. Under the old system, no one would really be focusing on points right now. This year, everyone is counting rounds and points, and I think it's added a lot of excitement and competition," he said.