Ashley ready to defend his title in Topeka
Topeka, pre-race: Heartland Park Topeka holds a very special place in the heart ProCare Rx Dodge Charger driver Mike Ashley. More than the site of his first NHRA nitro Funny Car win, Topeka is the place where Ashley said "it all just came together."
"Last year, we'd done everything except win an event: we'd been to the finals in Atlanta, been number one qualifier three times in a row, and we even had a DNQ to keep us humble," Ashley explained.
"All day Sunday, we just had everything running like clockwork. Brian Corradi [Crew Chief] and the team were in 'the zone' and we just knew it was right. I always go the line expecting to win, and everything worked as planned.
"As my first season with the jobs of both team owner as well as driver, the win was extremely satisfying," said the mortgage banker from New York.
Heading into this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals as the defending event champion, Ashley is determined to hold onto his title.
"It's been more of a testing season for me up to this point. I've had such a busy schedule with Lend America and the state of the mortgage and housing situation in America, I couldn't commit to a full season. When [team co-owner] Roger Burgess and I talked about me running more races, I definitely knew I wanted to be in Topeka to defend my title. It's just something I had to do," he said.
Ashley said he's committed to run at least three other races this season, and although he sees his role as test car for his team's primary driver - Melanie Troxel - his determination to win is as strong as ever.
"I really believe that if you expect mediocre results, you'll achieve them every time, but if you expect to win, you will. If not the first time or every time, you'll learn to get to your goal, and our win here last year is proof," he said.
He said he is extremely pleased with the progress his team has made this year, and with his teammate Troxel's win at the last event in Bristol, Tenn., the momentum is definitely going the right way.
"We're confident going into the event this weekend, and there's nothing I'd like more than to meet Melanie in the final. That would be the very best of all," he said.
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