Sonoma: Mike Ashley Friday notes

Ashley blasts to provisional top spot in Sonoma SONOMA, Calif. (July 27, 2007) - After two rounds of qualifying, Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, holds the provisional number one position in the FRAM Autlolite NHRA...

Ashley blasts to provisional top spot in Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. (July 27, 2007) - After two rounds of qualifying, Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, holds the provisional number one position in the FRAM Autlolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., and set the Infineon Raceway Funny Car speed record in the process.

Under the cool night sky in the heart of California wine country, Ashley blasted to the number one spot with a booming 4.743-second pass. His speed of 326.79 m.p.h. set the track record, his sixth speed record of the season and the eighth time he has run the top speed of an event.

"What a great way to start my birthday weekend, right?" Ashley said. "I came out here from New York with just my wife, kind of like a little honeymoon for the two of us, and this is a great way to get things going. The track, the facility, the conditions - everything was amazing tonight and just lined up to get us to that number one spot."

Ashley will celebrate his 42nd birthday on Monday, and said a win would be the best gift he could imagine.

"I'd love to get a win for my birthday, but, let's face it, to go out there and run a 4.74 on a Friday night is a real testament to Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, Steve Boggs and the rest of the guys and how they have worked so hard the past six weeks," Ashley said.

"The Friday night run is a big, big deal. I think it has become as important as any round of racing. When I pull up to the line on Friday night, I get butterflies in my stomach, because I know that this is critical to winning the race.

"Honestly, being number one is great, but I've been number one before. What we're really focused on right now is getting points in the Countdown to the Championship, and this will definitely help," he said.

Ashley currently sits No. 3 in the POWERade Championship race with 798 points, 26 points ahead of Tony Pedregon. The top eight drivers will advance to the Countdown to Four playoffs after the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Penn. August 16-19 - just three races away including this weekend.

"Now, I can sleep well tonight knowing that we're solid in the show for Sunday, and it gives us a chance to work on strategy.

"The game plan for tomorrow is really simple - get our race-day setup. We'll take a look at the times we end up running, and see what the track can hold. We'll also do a little testing of some things on the car because with the schedule we haven't had a chance to do the testing we've wanted to," he said.

Qualifying continues tomorrow with nitro sessions scheduled at 12:30 and 2:45 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday, July 29.

-credit: gcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Mike Ashley