INDIANAPOLIS, IN (September 6, 2020) — In his first NHRA DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals race as a professional, rookie of the year candidate Justin Ashley drove the Strutmasters.com powered by MANSCAPED™ Top Fuel dragster to a semifinal finish. While he was not victorious his final pass of the day was one that will stick with NHRA fans for many years.
Racing against 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon both drivers had their hands full as soon as their 11,000 horsepower dragsters jumped off the starting line. Ashley grabbed a starting line advantage with what is becoming a customary stellar reaction time. As he accelerated down track his Top Fuel dragster overpowered the track.
“That was the first time I ever had any kind of pedalfest in Top Fuel,” said Ashley. “Immediately it went up into smoke and I slapped the throttle but I just couldn’t get it to hook up completely. The car got a little sideways and at that point I pretty much lifted. I was getting ready to call it a day but I still didn’t see Shawn there on the other side so I thought I would slap it one more time. I got it across the finish line eventually but Shawn got me that time. I am happy for his team. I want to wish them the best in the finals. It was a good race. If we weren’t able to come out with a win I am glad we were able to put on a show for the fans.”
While he did not get another win this weekend Ashley looked at his success on race day which included an upset win over Billy Torrence. As the No. 13 qualifier he was giving up lane choice to the veteran driver. His Aaron Brooks tuned Strutmasters.com powered by MANSCAPED dragster made his best run of the weekend, a strong 3.717 second run at 323.12 mph. The win set up another match up with perennial Top Fuel championship contender Doug Kalitta.
The quarterfinal match up went Ashley’s way when he once again grabbed a starting line advantage and drove to a hole shot win. His slower elapsed time of 3.774 seconds combined with his .035 second reaction time was enough to get to the finish line stripe before Kalitta’s 3.755 second run.
When the young driver looked back at his three days at the U.S. Nationals which included a race win at the postponed NHRA Summernational he took in all the positive experiences from the event.
“Life is good. This whole experience has been very humbling for me,” said Ashley. “I know I am a small part of a much larger group. I think that this is pretty amazing to be a rookie team, to make it this far and to have the kind of weekend we had. Our goal coming in was to double up and we gave it a good run. Wally’s are hard to come by and this was a successful weekend for us. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to race in a final and to make it to the semifinals. My hat is off to the entire Davis Motorsports team. Aaron Brooks, Dustin Davis and all my guys did an awesome job.”
Q1: 6.274 sec, 96.18 mph; Qual. 15
Q2: 3.805 sec, 318.09 mph; Qual. 12
Q3: 3.958 sec, 267.96 mph; Qual. 13
Bonus Points: 0
E1: Justin Ashley, Melville, NY, Strutmasters.com dragster powered by MANSCAPED, 3.717, 323.12 mph def. Billy Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, CAPCO Contractors dragster 3.773, 320.81 mph
E2: Justin Ashley, 3.774, 294.50 mph def. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.755, 329.67 mph
E3: Shawn Langdon, Avon, Ind., DHL dragster, 6.920, 175.00 mph def. Justin Ashley, 7.237, 184.90 mph
Unofficial Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings
1. Doug Kalitta, 492
2. Leah Pruett, 442
3. Steve Torrence, 432
4. Justin Ashley, 370
5. Billy Torrence, 331
6. Shawn Langdon, 330
7. Antron Brown, 316
8. Terry McMillen, 305
9. Clay Millican , 279
10. TJ Zizzo, 179
Photos courtesy of Ron Lewis Photography for media use only
About Justin Ashley Racing
Justin Ashley Racing in partnership with Davis Motorsports fields the Strutmasters.com Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. As a driver Ashley is a two-time winner in Top Alcohol Dragster on the Lucas Oil Series and is the son of multi-time NHRA national event winner Mike Ashley. In 2017, he was named to the Drag Illustrated magazine’s 30 under 30 list, highlighting some of racing’s most promising young individuals on and off the racetrack. When he’s not racing, Ashley serves as President of Ashley Developers, a real estate investment organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of distressed properties. To learn more about Justin Ashley Racing, visit JustinAshley.com.