Records continue for Ashley in Topeka, Oswald to tune car on Saturday TOPEKA, Kan. (June 1) - After a four week hiatus from drag racing, Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger, picked up right where he left off at this ...
Records continue for Ashley in Topeka, Oswald to tune car on Saturday
TOPEKA, Kan. (June 1) - After a four week hiatus from drag racing, Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger, picked up right where he left off at this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka: setting a track speed record with the fastest Funny Car run of the day and landing solidly in the provisional No. 2 qualifying position.
In the only round of qualifying, Ashley posted a track speed-record setting 327.11 mph in just 4.794 seconds. Robert Hight holds the provisional top spot with a 4.754/320.66.
"It feels good to come off the long layoff and do well," Ashley said. "I had a good time during the layoff; I went to my kid's ball games and spent a lot of quality time with my family.
"To come back, jump in the car and get that first run out of the way and get down the track feels good. At the time we were No.1 before Robert Hight came back to remind me he's around and take it away from me," he said.
After a string of No. 1 qualifying performances, Ashley said being number two heading into Saturday's qualifying doesn't faze him.
"I think it's good. I think what it shows is, again, we need to try and stay consistent. We've got a good car and an incredible team. Brian [Corradi, crew chief] and Mark Oswald [co-crew chief] have really pulled together a consistent car. To come right out and go to the top shows a lot, so we'll have to see what tomorrow brings," Ashley said.
Aside from two more chances to improve his standings and hopefully a change in the weather, Saturday will bring other changes, including a temporary swap in crew chiefs. Former world champion and veteran tuner Mark Oswald will be calling the shots in place of Brian Corradi, who is being carted home on team-sponsor Evan Knoll's private jet to attend high school commencement ceremonies for his oldest son, Nick.
"We are all about family on this team, and I wouldn't have had it any other way," Ashley said. "We'll be just fine without Brian, and we all send our congratulations and wish Nick the best of success as he graduates high school. It's a very special time - and, thanks to Evan, Brian won't have to miss a moment."
Corradi is scheduled to leave Topeka early Saturday morning and return later the same night. Qualifying will continue with sessions scheduled at noon and 2:30 p.m., and Ashley said he's confident the car will run well, despite Corradi's absence.
"Mark was the first nitro crew chief I ever worked with, and has taught me so much about driving, it won't affect me at all.
"I don't make the calls on the car, but, I think probably the game plan will be, if I had to guess, do the same thing we always try to do - give the track as much as it can take without going over center."