The past four years have been a roller coaster ride for Las Vegas stock car driver Dustin Ash.  Ash launched his 2006 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season on a high when he was tapped by local racing legend Dick Cobb to drive a MetroPCS Super Late Model at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dustin had been racing since he was three years old and had paid his dues in BMX, Go-Kart and Legends Cars competition. He had earned the opportunity to compete at local short track racing's highest level. In his first season as a Super Late Model pilot, he earned rookie-of-the-year honors.

Ash went after the 2007 season with a vengeance, winning nine MetroPCS Super Late Model features and the points championship.

But the roller coaster had reached its peak. The slumping economy was about to send Dustin to the bottom of the ride. Without sufficient sponsorship dollars, Dustin was forced to leave the Super Late Model ride but managed to keep his skills sharp by driving a Thunder Roadster for the 2008 campaign. There certainly is nothing wrong with driving a Thunder Roadster, but after racing and winning in a Super Late Model, it's akin to sending an MLB Gold Glove recipient down to the minors.

Fast-forward to Saturday, May 2, 2009.  Ash, now 20, appears at the Bullring with a brand-new MetroPCS Super Late Model, sponsored by Vision Airlines. In true storybook fashion, he wins on the first night out.  The post-race victory lane interview revealed the details to Ash's Super Late Model comeback.

"It's very weird how it happened," Ash admitted. "A good friend of mine was working for this team with Dusty Davis and they wanted to run a second car and he mentioned my name.  They called me in the middle of the week and (offered it to me). I had a meeting with the guys from Vision Airlines and they said I'd be racing the rest of the season."

Vision Airlines (www.visionairlines.com) is a Las Vegas success story. The company took off in 1994 with one nine-seat Piper Chieftain. Today the charter service flies Boeing 737s and has offices not only in Las Vegas, but Washington, D.C. and Louisville as well.

"Bill (President & CEO) and Steve (Sr. V.P. & COO) Acor are the owners of the company and it's always been their dream to have a race team and I'm very fortunate to have joined them. The cars are brand-new, but by crew chief Aaron Jiminez. Dusty Davis and I are their drivers. To go out and win for them on the first night, it couldn't have been any better."  

Ash and his family also give back to the community. The Ash family has organized fundraising efforts for The Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities since 2004.  Through their Bullring Race-a-Thon, they have raised more than $10,000 for the charity, combining their own fundraising efforts and the challenges issued to other Bullring drivers. Ash also donates a portion of his winnings to the charity.

"It's (the Race-A-Thon) is something that we always try to do," Dustin explained. "It's great that we can give back to the community. This year's fundraiser will probably take place near the end of the season (on or near Sept. 5). It's pretty much like a walk-a-thon - you go out and get people to make pledges. It's sort of like a sponsorship deal - if someone sponsors you for one dollar per lap and we run 50 laps that night, it's $50 for the charity.  We try to get every racer to go out and raise money and everything we collect goes to Speedway Children's Charities."

Not content to wait until September, Ash and his fellow racers will hold a raffle and sign autographs for Speedway Children's Charities on Saturday night (June 20) at the Bullring.  Tickets will be sold at the raffle booth beneath the grandstands and the prize list includes Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-alongs, Grand Canyon air and bus tours, an autographed Kyle Petty diecast car and a Jeff Gordon stand-up.  They also will host a second raffle at the Bullring on July 2 during the annual Night of Fire.

"We've always done this, even when I raced Go-Karts," said Ash. "We've always found a charity to help."

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