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GAINESVILLE, FL – The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series started today in earnest at the 54th NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. For championship contending team Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by National Debt Relief the take-aways from the first weekend might not be reflected on the points sheet. The 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year made three qualifying runs with two passes on Saturday moving Ashley up in the 16-car field. Ashley rolled into race day as the No. 9 qualifier and a match-up with Mike Salinas.

In the opening round Ashley got the jump off the starting line with a .038 to .087 reaction time advantage and his Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by National Debt Relief was side-by-side with Salinas as they raced towards the finish line. As the 12,000-horsepower Top Fuelers charged towards the finish line Salinas was able to pull away and get out in front of Ashley’s 3.754 second, 330.88 mph run. Ashley’s day was over, but the event was not a total loss for the team that finished No. 4 in the world last season.

“We have a championship team”, said Ashley. “We expect to win. But this is racing. Although we didn’t accomplish our goal this weekend, we have a lot of data and information that we can take and apply moving forward. It’s a long season with plenty of opportunities. I have the utmost confidence in our team and look forward to getting back behind the wheel in Phoenix.”

This was the first race with National Debt Relief on Ashley’s Top Fuel dragster and the new addition has Ashley excited for the future both on and off the track. Adding another major corporation to the team’s marketing arsenal along with Phillips Connect, Toyota, Lucas Oil, Mac Tools and KATO Fastening Systems gives the fourth-year team owner and driver confidence and a level of stability.

“Phillips Connect is the reason we are in the position we are today,” said Ashley. “I have so much gratitude for their dedication, support and commitment to the success of this program both on and off the racetrack. Now, to have the honor of representing National Debt Relief, one of the largest debt relief companies in the country, is truly humbling. I love working with those who are in the business of helping others and that is exactly what they do. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent National Debt Relief and so many of our great partners.”

To be able to bring in National Debt Relief and start working with one of the largest debt relief companies in the country, who’s helped hundreds of thousands of people is really something that I’m privileged to be a part of. I’m just happy that I can be a resource to people out there who need help.”

The next event on the schedule will be the NHRA Arizona Nationals, which is slated to host its final NHRA national event the weekend of March 24-26.

Qualifying Results

Q1: 6.166 sec, 100.15 mph; Qual. 14

Q2: 3.870 sec; 299.06 mph; Qual. 13

Q3: 3.768 sec; 328.94 mph; Qual. 9

Bonus Points: 0

Race Results

First Round

Mike Salinas, San Jose, Calif., Scrappers Racing dragster, (.087) 3.669, 334.82 mph def.  Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by National Debt Relief, (.038) 3.754, 300.88 mph

photo credit Gary Nastase/Auto Imagery

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