Justin Ashley Qualifies Lucky No. 13 at U.S. Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Heading into the 66th annual NHRA DENSO U.S. Nationals Justin Ashley and the Strutmasters.com powered by MANSCAPED™ Top Fuel dragster have momentum on the heels of winning the rain delayed Summernationals and qualifying in the lucky No. 13 spot. Over two days of qualifying Ashley had an up and down experience with on-track performance but the rookie of the year contender is ready for the biggest race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“I feel really good. These are definitely unique circumstances,” said Ashley at the end of Saturday. “Having a race within the race is unique. I am going to do everything we can to enjoy it because I think that is important. That is why we are out here, to win and we need to enjoy it and take it in. We will wake up tomorrow and it will be time to race for the US Nationals. It is the biggest, most prestigious race in drag racing. We will make sure we are focused on that when the time is right.”
In three qualifying runs Ashley and his Strutmasters.com powered by MANSCAPED posted qualifying runs of 6.274 second at 96.18 mph on Friday followed by a strong 3.805 second, 318.09 mph pass which solidly put him in the field. The first run of Saturday was the third quickest of the session and earned him one qualifying bonus point. In the final qualifying session which was also the final round of the rain postponed Summernationals Ashley lit up the right lane scoreboard with an elapsed time of 3.958 seconds at 267.96 mph. The run did not improve his position but added the first professional win to his record book.
“It is very emotional for me,” said Ashley. “This is something I dreamed about since I was a young kid. I grew up around the race track so I knew this was going to be an emotional moment. I pictured it in my head over and over again. To actually be here right now means the world to me.”
Heading into the U.S. Nationals Ashley will be pursuing his second career win at the most prestigious national event and the rookie driver will have a huge cheerleader in father Mike Ashley, the 2007 Funny Car U.S. Nationals winner. The elder Ashley offered some advice to his son heading into race day.
“It is the same mindset that I taught him from the beginning,” said Ashley, a three-time Funny Car national event winner. “Every round is just like qualifying or his first test run. There is no crowd, there is no one here. You can only do what you can do.”
Final eliminations will begin at 10 a.m. ET and will be televised live on FOX from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET.