TOPEKA, KS (August 15, 2021) — Following one of the toughest races of his young career Justin Ashley bounced back strong with an excellent qualifying effort and quarterfinal finish at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by Pet Armor. Ashley powered his Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com to the No. 5 spot on the qualifying sheet thanks to strong runs on each day of qualifying. Ashley’s three qualifying runs earned him three bonus points and set him up for race day success.
“We made three great runs in qualifying thanks to this Davis Motorsports team and our crew chief Mike Green,” said Ashley, on Saturday night. “Our second run in the heat was the quickest of the session and we were fourth quickest in the final session. That kind of consistency will win races for our Smart Sanitizer and Strutmasters.com team.”
In the first round Ashley raced Top Fuel rookie Alex Laughlin in a battle of two of the youngest stars in Top Fuel. Laughlin is running Pro Stock and Top Fuel during the 2021 season and is proving to be a tough competitor. Ashley was not taking him lightly and used a starting line reaction time advantage to secure the round one win. The 2020 Rookie of the Year and category leader in reaction time posted a .056 reaction time to combine with his 3.807 second elapsed time for the victory on a hole shot.
“I knew Alex would be tough on the starting line and I just did my routine,” said Ashley. “I felt good in the race car all weekend. After the Pomona final I changed my routine at the track to make sure I stay healthy and sharp throughout the day. I felt great all weekend.”
Two weeks ago Ashley suffered heat exhaustion prior to his final round race against Leah Pruett at the Winternationals. It was a learning experience for the young driver but one he took to heart. This weekend he kept his focus on his racing responsibilities as well as sponsor obligations. On Friday night he spent time with race sponsor Menard’s in their suite and on Saturday he hosted Brian Cook of Independence, Missouri, who won a social media contest Ashley along with sponsor RISE Brewing Company and Menard’s hosted in conjunction with NHRA. Cook met Ashley, toured the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel pit area and received autographs and a personalized signed photo.
“It was great to meet the guests from Menard’s as well as Brian, our RISE contest winner,” said Ashley. “We have so many great partners like Smart Sanitizer, Strutmasters.com, RISE, Auto Shocker and KATO Fastening Systems so when you get a chance to give back to their guests and customers it is a great honor.”
In the second round Ashley drew the Top Fuel point leader and three-time reigning Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence. Both drivers were on their starting line games leaving together but Ashley’s 3.824 second run wasn’t enough to get around’s Torrence’s 3.787 second run, which was the second quickest pass of the round.
“Steve has a great team and we knew we needed to put up a low number. We fell off a little, but overall this was a great weekend for the team. We are holding our own in the Top Ten with two races left in the regular season. I am very excited for Brainerd and my second U.S. Nationals,” added Ashley.
The Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel team is seventh in Top Fuel points and has a lead of over 200 points on the driver in eleventh place with two regular season races remaining.
Q1: 3.796 sec, 320.66 mph; Qual. 5
Q2: 3.826 sec, 321.81 mph; Qual. 5
Q3: 3.769 sec, 324.05 mph; Qual. 5
Bonus Points: +3 (Quickest of Q2)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Justin Ashley 5 .056 3.807 321.88 (W)
Alex Laughlin 10 .105 3.800 317.87
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Justin Ashley 5 .057 3.824 322.88
Steve Torrence 4 .055 3.787 320.36 (W)
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence 1090
2. Brittany Force 748
3. Antron Brown 736
4. Leah Pruett 611
5. Shawn Langdon 587
6. Mike Salinas 571
7. Justin Ashley 523
8. Billy Torrence 510
9. Clay Millican 482
10. Doug Kalitta 471
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.