BRAINERD, MN (August 22, 2021) — Justin Ashley, like every racer that competes at the highest level of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series focuses on winning every race they enter. This weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals while Ashley did not pick up the traditional Wally as the event winner he did sign his way, literally, into the Countdown to the championship. Following his first round victory Ashley officially clinched his spot in the 2021 Countdown to the Championship and will be eligible to race for the Top Fuel championship. This will be the first time the second-year driver will compete with the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com in the NHRA playoffs.
“When I won the first round race and I saw them holding the big Countdown check for me to sign as an official Countdown contender and I got pretty excited,” said Ashley, who raced to the final round at the Winternationals. “Our goal is to compete for and win Top Fuel championships with this Davis Motorsports Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com. We have put ourselves in position to compete for the championship. For a young team like ours that is quite an accomplishment, but we aren’t going to lose focus on the ultimate goal.”
Justin Ashley Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel powered by Strutmasters.com (Photo credit Ron Lewis Photography)
On race day Ashley came in as the No. 4 qualifier on the strength of his strong runs on Friday and Saturday. Right off the trailer Ashley and his Smart Sanitizer team posted the third quickest elapsed time of the lone Friday night session, picking up a qualifying bonus point, and putting the team in a position to try some things on Saturday. At the end of qualifying Ashley’s team figured a few things out and were set up for a tough first round against Leah Pruett.
Ashley got the jump off the starting line and never trailed in the race. His run of 3.765 seconds at 326.32 mph was just a tick off his best qualifying run. For the third race in a row Ashley advanced his Top Fuel dragster that is also backed by Auto Shocker and KATO Fastening Systems to at least the quarterfinals.
In the second round Ashley paired up with No. 2 qualifier and point leader Steve Torrence. The winner of this round would get a bye into the Brainerd Nationals final round. Once again Ashley took a huge starting line advantage and was starting to make a move before Torrence caught up to him just beyond half-track. Both dragsters were briefly together before Torrence pulled away with a 3.73 second run beside Ashley’s 3.910 second run. Ashley’s race car slowed at the top end tripping the speed trap with a reduced 277.32 mph run.
“We had a good day on the track even if the results weren’t what we were looking for,” said Ashley. “That first round run was a good run and just what we were looking for. We are getting quality runs at just the right time heading to the U.S. Nationals. Steve is a tough competitor. In that race we were out on him and we just lost power right before the finish line. You have to be aggressive and on that run we might have pushed too hard. We will learn from that and get better for the next race.”
Q1: 3.807 sec, 323.74 mph; Qual. 3
Q2: 4.722 sec, 157.58 mph; Qual. 6
Q3: 3.752 sec, 328.30 mph; Qual. 5
Bonus Points: +1 (3RD Quickest of Q1)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Justin Ashley 5 .056 3.765 326.32 (W)
Leah Pruett 8 .097 4.472 179.64
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Justin Ashley 5 .062 3.910 277.32
Steve Torrence 2 .132 3.737 326.48 (W)
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence, 1212
2. Brittany Force, 829
3. Antron Brown, 791
4. Mike Salinas, 631
4. Leah Pruett, 631
6. Shawn Langdon, 620
7. Clay Millican, 579
8. Justin Ashley, 578
9. Billy Torrence, 510
10. Doug Kalitta, 503
About Justin Ashley Racing
Justin Ashley Racing in partnership with Davis Motorsports fields the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. During his Top Fuel rookie season in 2020 Justin won the NHRA Summernationals, finished in the Top Ten and was recognized as the 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year. Prior to his professional debut Ashley has three wins in Top Alcohol Dragster on the Lucas Oil Series. He 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.