KENT, WA (July 31, 2022) — Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Energy started the Western Swing with a semifinal finish in Denver and they capped the three race stretch with another semifinal today at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways outside of Seattle. The third-year pro and team owner went into race day as the No. 7 qualifier and defeated Austin Prock and Steve Torrence before dropping a wild semifinal against Tony Schumacher. Ashley will leave the Northwest Nationals sitting third in the points with three races left before the Countdown playoffs begin after Labor Day.
“I am really proud of these guys,” said Ashley, at the end of a long day. “We didn’t’ accomplish what we wanted to this weekend, but I thought we ran really well. The real number for us was 47. These guys turned this car around in this weather in 47 minutes. I am really proud of this team. We will regroup and move on to Topeka.”
In the first round Ashley and Prock left side-by-side, but the Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy had enough power to get out in front and race away for the win. Ashley’s winning elapsed time of 3.782 seconds outran Prock’s 3.796 seconds. In the battle between two NHRA Rookies of the Year Ashley moved his head-to-head record to 5-0 against Prock with today’s round win. Ashley earned lane choice in the quarterfinals over four-time Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence.
Facing the four-time and reigning Top Fuel champion Torrence in the quarterfinals Ashley stepped up his game posting another 3.78 second run in on a track that was over 130 degrees. The two-time winner already this season pulled away from Torrence, who was smoking his tires, for another quick and clean run to advance to the final four.
The Pacific Raceways’ racing surface continued to heat up and Ashley drew eight-time Top Fuel champion Schumacher for his third race of the day. Both drivers launched hard, but Ashley smoked the tires almost immediately. He saw Schumacher also get into trouble and Ashley tried to pedal his 11,000 horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster, but as he tried to wrestle his race car under control it crossed the centerline disqualifying his run and handing the win to Schumacher. It was a dramatic end of a successful team effort for Ashley and his Davis Motorsports backed team.
“It just went up in smoke,” said Ashley, from the top end after the semifinal run. “That is what happens sometimes when you are racing as hard as we are. I just tried to give it a ride after I saw Tony having some trouble in the other lane. I wanted to give our Phillips Connect team a shot.”
The new experience of racing all three Western Swing races and making his first appearance at Pacific Raceways gave Ashley the opportunity to talk about his marketing partners like Bendix, Velociti, Sensata Insights, Lucas Oil, and KATO Fastening Systems to a packed house of fans. The team will head to Topeka in two weeks looking to close the gap on the Top Fuel points leaders.
Q1: 4.048 sec, 247.11 mph; Qual. 9
Q2: 3.853 sec; 319.75 mph; Qual. 6
Q3: 3.851 sec; 319.98 mph; Qual. 7
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, 3.782, 325.30 mph def. Austin Prock, Pittsboro, Ind., Montana Brand dragster, 3.796, 326.32 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, 3.785, 322.42 mph def. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco dragster, 6.333, 95.40 mph
Tony Schumacher, Austin, Texas, Maynard Family Foundation dragster, 4.485, 258.37 mph def. Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, DQ-Centerline