POMONA, Calif. (March 24, 2024) – Justin Ashley and the SCAG Power Equipment Toyota Top Fuel dragster team rallied to their fourth consecutive final round at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip on Sunday. The finals were postponed due to inclement weather and will be contested at the NHRA Arizona Nationals the weekend of April 5-7.

Ashley, who has won the Winternationals the last two consecutive years and finished runner-up in 2021, is set to face eight-time world champion and winningest Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher in his 20th Top Fuel final round.

“We were looking forward to racing in the final round in front of all the great fans that stuck it out through the rain,” Ashley said. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t get it done, but grateful that we have an opportunity to finish things up in just a few short weeks.”

Ashley made his way to the finals by first defeating Shawn Reed with a 3.831-second pass at 317.81 mph to Reed’s 7.630 at 124.93 after smoking the tires at the hit. In the second round, Ashley would line his SCAG Toyota dragster up against four-time champion Steve Torrence. Torrence would have lane choice and opt to make a swap at the last moment. The adjustment would be in Ashley’s favor resulting in a 3.706 pass at 334.65 while Torrence smoked the tires almost immediately for a 7.359 at 98.98.

Another multi-time champion, Brittany Force, waited for Ashley in the semifinals. Ashley would have the starting line advantage, but they would both lose traction. Ashely would pedal his way to the win with a 4.190 second pass at 296.63 mph to Force’s 4.626 at 216.13 setting him up for a final round match up against Schumacher.

“I have a ton of respect for Tony. He’s a winner and a champion for a lot of different reasons. I have the utmost respect for him and Joe Maynard and that team over there. It will be a battle no matter where we get the race in. We have a huge responsibility to the BlueBird, Versatran, and SCAG dealers that came out and waited out this weather all weekend long. Not to mention, Pomona is a home event for Phillips, and Rob Phillips was here in the house. It won’t be raced in Pomona, but it’s still the finals of the Winternationals, so all chips are on the table. In the meantime, we’ll hop into our Toyota Sequoia and head back to the shop to make the most of our week off.”

In Funny Car, Daniel Wilkerson and the SCAG Power Equipment Ford Mustang entered the day as the No. 8 qualifier with a 4.014-second pass at 314.31 mph that was quickest of the Friday qualifying session earning him three bonus points. Wilkerson would face Jeff Diehl in the first round. Wilkerson had the starting line advantage but his Mustang Funny Car would be up in smoke almost immediately and have to shut off coasting to a 10.334 at 85.08. Diehl would have his quickest pass of the weekend at 4.044 and 303.30.

“We had weak shake during qualifying Saturday, so we tuned it up for eliminations and it was too much,” Wilkerson said. “Seems like our tuning window on this particular setup is small. The change we made versus the results we saw didn’t correlate. So, we have some more studying to do. We’ll regroup and get back after it in Phoenix.”

Dave Richards and the Versatran/BlueBird Funny Car team qualified in the No. 14 spot with a 4.502 second pass at 205.44 mph that put them against Bobby Bode in the first round. Richards, like his teammate, would be up in tire smoke at the hit and have to shut off to go only 8.359 at 92.23 while Bode had a 3.964 at 291.51.

“Not the result we wanted round one but we’re continuing to learn and build off of each round. We’re working out all the bugs in the new car. We’re seeing improvement. This weekend is a better result from the Gatornationals, and we’ll continue to make that progress, slow as it may seem,” Richards said. “We’re really thankful for the opportunity to work with a great group of partners in Versatran, BlueBird and SCAG. It’s a dream come true.”

The Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series season will continue April 5-7 with the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park.


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