Mike Ashley got a front row seat to John Force taking away his No. 1 Funny Car qualifying spot. His only choice? Take it right back.
Ashley, who was the top-qualifier after Friday's first-round run of 4.887 seconds, 308.71 mph, was in the final group of the second round. Right in front of him was Force, who ticked off a 4.84, 317.19 mph run to overtake Ashley at No. 1.
How did Ashley respond? By plowing past Force to retake the top spot with a 4.833, 324.98 mph run, both tops for the day at the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Mike Ashley (foreground) drove his Funny Car to the No. 1 spot during Friday's qualifying runs at the 26th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Ashley's top ET was 4.833 at 324.98 mph. In the far lane Robert Hight qualified No. 3 with an ET 4.867 and 310.05 mph.
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"You're sitting back there and you figure if Force can go out there and run it and the track can take it," Ashley said, "then you just think to yourself there's no reason you can't do it too. I'm sitting in the car trying to think what (crew chief) Brian (Corradi) is thinking to himself. Then the next thing you know he's getting in the box and making changes. He knew the track could take it."
Robert Hight finished the day as the No. 3 qualifier as he posted a 4.867 at 310.05 mph. Fourth was Jack Beckman and fifth was Del Worsham. Beckman had a 4.884 at 315.12 mph while Worsham put up a time of 4.909 at 314.09 mph.
In the opening session it was the cars who weren't able to take the track. The first round was highlighted more by the number of cars that struggled getting down the track than the cars that ran clean races.
The key: Mike Ashley topped John Force in the second round to earn the No. 1 qualifying spot in Friday's preliminary rounds of the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR.
Almost every run down the track saw at least one car, if not both cars, smoke its tires. The heat, which reached into the mid-90s, played a big role in reeking havoc on the track and in turn caused chaos for the drivers.
Not Ashley though, who's No. 3 in the Funny Car points standings. He turned in the best run of the first round as he posted a time of 4.887 at 308.71 mph. Ashley was also the only drive to register a time under five seconds in the opening round.
"It's hot but we've got a pretty decent hot-weather tuneup when we have our program together," said Ashley. "When we're focused on running our system without testing or trying different blowers and different things we're pretty consistent. But this isn't a surprise to us."
It's also not a surprise that Ashley's the top qualifier. He's been the No. 1 qualifier four times this year. And while Ashley has two wins on the season, none have come when he's been the top qualifier. Despite that trend Ashley still likes the spot his team is in.
"I like the position we're in," said Ashley. "I don't know what (Saturday's) conditions will be like. But I know one thing for sure. You get a better night's sleep Friday night when you know you're in solid and that's a big thing."
TROY GUNDERSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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