Ashley blasts to No. 9
Las Vegas, Saturday: It was a perfect day for drag racing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Mike Ashley made the best of it in his Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, setting the top Funny Car speed of the meet and qualifying No. 9 with a 4.796/328.86-pass in the final round of qualifying at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.
"This car likes to go fast on this track," Ashley said. "Brian [Corradi, Crew chief] had it tuned to go in the high '70's and that's exactly what we did.
"We had been working with several experimental parts in the car in the previous rounds, and were in the show, but on that last one, he really got down to it and made it hot for me," he said.
Ashley, who is in town with his wife, Mindy, said his goal for the weekend is to win a race for her.
"She's never been at the track when I've won a race, so I told her that this race was for her. She has always supported me in my racing, and really whatever I've done - I don't think I could have a bigger cheerleader.
"My dad is here, too, and he's never been here when we've won in Funny Car, so it's really important to me to do well for them," Ashley said.
Along with his family, Ashley is also hosting a very special fan, TJ, who has been a source of encouragement for the Long Island-based mortgage banker throughout the season.
"TJ is one of those people who really just brings sunshine wherever he is. We met him through the Make-a-Wish program because he's gone through a lot of really tough medical issues, but, he's a real champion and a motivation for me as well as the whole team," Ashley said.
Ashley's pit was also the site of a special wedding renewal ceremony Friday night for Safety Safari member Jimmy Ledbetter and his bride Brenda. The Ledbetters were married in Las Vegas five years ago, and, although his job is with the NHRA, she has never attended a National event.
"I can't thank Mike and Angelo [Angelico, GCR Team Manager] enough for making it so special. They are truly very wonderful people," Ledbetter said.
Ashley said, "We're having such a great time here in Vegas - and people like TJ, and the Ledbetters along with Latrell Preston and the rest of the people from Torco are what make thee experience out here great.
"Now, we're going to go out and give it all we've got tomorrow. I feel really confident about the day, and am really looking forward to race day," Ashley said.
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