Justin Ashley Racing
CHARLOTTE, NC – Justin Ashley announced today a new co-primary sponsor for the remainder of the 2021 NHRA Countdown to the Championship and 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Beginning at this weekend’s DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals his Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster will be powered by Vita C Shot, a company backed by longtime NHRA supporter Chip Lofton.
The past two seasons Lofton’s Strutmasters.com has adorned the side of Ashley’s 11,000 horsepower land rocket. Beginning in Charlotte, Vita C Shot will take its place as the newest addition to the Justin Ashley Racing stable.
“I’ve had the privilege of spending time with Chip Lofton in a personal and professional capacity throughout the last two plus seasons. He is a great businessman, but more importantly he is special person. Our team is fortunate to have him in our lives,“ said Ashley, from the zMax Dragway media center.
CHARLOTTE, NC – Second year driver and 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley got off to a strong start in his first official Countdown race grabbing a runner-up finish last weekend at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals. The Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com qualified No. 6 his third top half of the field starting position in the last four races. This weekend the driver who jumped from seventh to fourth in the Camping World Top Fuel point standings will be looking to keep that momentum moving forward at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. Ashley’s history at the Carolina Nationals dates to before his rookie season when he raced to a semifinal finish in his first NHRA Top Fuel race in 2019.
“I love everything about racing in Charlotte. It is a beautiful facility since it is a Bruton Smith track you know everything will be first-class,” said Ashley. “I remember my first race there in 2019. I just wanted to do my best and we raced to the semifinals and almost made the finals.”
With the Countdown point reshuffle and Ashley’s strong performance, defeating three Countdown competitors in Reading, Pennsylvania before losing a close race to a fourth Countdown racer the driver from Plainview, New York, sits just 55 points out of first place. This deficit is less than three rounds of racing with six playoff races left in the season. Ashley raced a Countdown qualified driver in every round of racing last weekend, which gave him the toughest path on race day.
Second-year driver jumps to fourth place in championship points
READING, PA – Racing in his first official Countdown playoff race Justin Ashley, of Plainview, New York, drove the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com to a runner-up finish at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Ashley made significant strides throughout qualifying to enter race day as the No. 6 qualifier and a first round match-up with perennial championship contender Doug Kalitta. In a solid performance Ashley took out Kalitta, Clay Millican and Steve Torrence before dropping a close final round to Billy Torrence.
“It was really a great weekend. The car was fantastic running in the low 3.70s or high 3.60s,” said Ashley. “It was consistent and that is a testament to (team owner) Dustin Davis and (crew chief) Mike Green. We have worked for this all year. We spent the races prior to the Countdown getting ready for this moment. When it was time to step up, we took advantage. I feel good leaving here this weekend after taking a big swing out of the points. Now we focus on Charlotte.”
The opening round race was a battle between two of the best drivers off the starting line in recent NHRA history. When the Christmas Tree fired both drivers were at the top of their game leaving together and keeping their 11,000 horsepower racecars in the middle of their lanes. At the finish line it was Ashley getting the win over Kalitta with a strong 3.703 second, 328.26 mph run.
READING, PA – In a regular season full of new experiences and continued development as a professional Justin Ashley, driver of the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com, will start his biggest challenge yet at this weekend’s Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. One week after the prestigious Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, Ashley will start the seven-race playoff run at a new track for the second-year driver.
“I have been to Maple Grove a number of times but never raced there,” said Ashley. “Reading is my home track so I will have some friends and family in attendance. That, in conjunction with the start of the playoffs is the perfect combination for an exciting weekend. It does not get any better than this.”
Last year the Countdown was suspended, and Ashley raced the complete season, finishing his rookie campaign in seventh place in the Top Fuel standings. At the completion of the 2021 regular season Ashley and his Davis Motorsports team sit in seventh place and are now only seventy points behind Steve Torrence the No. 1 seed thanks to the recalculation of the point standings. The Countdown will be a new challenge for Ashley and his young team, but the back-to-back races could be an advantage.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – For second generation driver Justin Ashley adding another Dodge/SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals trophy to the family trophy case will have to wait until at least 2022. Fifteen years ago, Mike Ashley, Justin’s father, won the Funny Car class at the NHRA most prestigious national event. The younger Ashley was hoping to add his own name to the illustrious list of Indy winners. Today the Smart SanitizerTop Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com and the 2020 Rookie of the Year dropped a close race in the first round to fellow future star Alex Laughlin.
Less than an hour after the tough loss Ashley was back in his pits signing autographs for dozens of young fans who flocked to his rope line. The continual praise from his young fans slowly took the sting of a shorter than expected race day out of Ashley’s psyche.
“Talking with these kids definitely helps,” confessed Ashley. “I mean, of course it’s not the kind of race we wanted here at the U.S. Nationals, but at the same time, you have to put things in perspective. Number one we’re fortunate to be here. And number two is the impact that we’re able to have on people goes way beyond the racetrack. It’s nice to spend time chatting with the fans out here. They’re great and I am appreciative for their support of our team and NHRA.”
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Winning the prestigious Dodge SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals is an accomplishment every professional racer knows is a career defining event. Hoisting the Wally at Indy for many drivers is on the same level as winning a world championship. Second-year Top Fuel driver Justin Ashley knows the history and for this year’s race he is ready to drive the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com, with complete focus on seeing four win lights on Sunday. Even though this is his second U.S. Nationals, this year the second-generation driver is feeling the draw and importance of Indy for the first time.
“It definitely feels like the U.S. Nationals is a big deal this year,” said Ashley, on Monday leading up to the race weekend. “The way last season played out was a little funky with having three races at Indianapolis Raceway Park before the official U.S. Nationals. In a lot of ways last year felt like another race in Indy. This year feels like a real stand alone, big deal U.S. Nationals. Once you pull around the front of the staging lanes, roll under the walk-over bridge and see the packed grandstands, that is when you say to yourself ‘Wow! I am at Indy!’”
In his debut U.S. Nationals Ashley picked up his first career win on the Saturday night before the race when he defeated TJ Zizzo to win the postponed NHRA Summernationals. It was a unique way to start his first U.S. Nationals when you consider it was the fourth race in a row at the track as the NHRA was rebooting their season after a nearly three-month layoff. The win set him up for success on race day as he powered to the semifinals and lost one of the most memorable rounds of racing in years. Ashley and Shawn Langdon exchanged the lead numerous times as each of their Top Fuel dragsters belched tire smoke lurching down the track in a classic pedal fest.
BRAINERD, MN – Justin Ashley, like every racer that competes at the highest level of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series focuses on winning every race they enter. This weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals while Ashley did not pick up the traditional Wally as the event winner he did sign his way, literally, into the Countdown to the championship. Following his first round victory Ashley officially clinched his spot in the 2021 Countdown to the Championship and will be eligible to race for the Top Fuel championship. This will be the first time the second-year driver will compete with the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com in the NHRA playoffs.
“When I won the first round race and I saw them holding the big Countdown check for me to sign as an official Countdown contender and I got pretty excited,” said Ashley, who raced to the final round at the Winternationals. “Our goal is to compete for and win Top Fuel championships with this Davis Motorsports Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com. We have put ourselves in position to compete for the championship. For a young team like ours that is quite an accomplishment, but we aren’t going to lose focus on the ultimate goal.”
On race day Ashley came in as the No. 4 qualifier on the strength of his strong runs on Friday and Saturday. Right off the trailer Ashley and his Smart Sanitizer team posted the third quickest elapsed time of the lone Friday night session, picking up a qualifying bonus point, and putting the team in a position to try some things on Saturday. At the end of qualifying Ashley’s team figured a few things out and were set up for a tough first round against Leah Pruett.