Justin Ashley Returns to Winternationals to Wrap Up Western Swing

photo by Ron Lewis Photography

The 2021 NHRA Western Swing will conclude this weekend at the historic NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Second year Top Fuel driver Justin Ashley will be looking to cap his two week west coast racing schedule with a win and additional momentum as the NHRA regular season enters its homestretch. The Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com will be looking to improve on a streak of success at the southern California track that started for the young driver in 2019. In his two previous appearances Ashley has advanced to the quarterfinals at Auto Club Raceway.

“Pomona was one of the tracks I raced at before I officially started my rookie season and we got to the quarterfinals,” said Ashley. “Last year we started the season with a first round win at the Winternationals but lost to Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals, who went on to win the race. I love racing at Pomona because that is where drag racing really got its start in southern California.”

The Winternationals will be contested this weekend after being postponed from its traditional February date and the change will offer the teams a tough challenge. Usually crew chiefs and teams are welcomed to Auto Club Raceway with cool temperatures but with temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s the track will be dramatically different for these 11,000 horsepower race cars. Qualifying has been shifted to the evening to offer some relief from hot track conditions but as Ashley understands all the teams will face the same conditions.   

“We know it will be hot but it will be hot for everyone,” said Ashley, who sits No. 9 in Top Fuel points, “I have a great tuner in Mike Green and this Davis Motorsports Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster will be ready to go on Friday night. We made some great runs in Sonoma last weekend and I think we can build on that momentum at the Winternationals.”

This season Ashley and his Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Strutmasters.com has shown they can run with the top teams in the category. Opening the season with a semifinal finish at the Gatornationals and winning consistently in the first round has the second year team confident they can make a run into the Countdown and be a contender for the NHRA Camping World Top Fuel championship. The next few races will be used to gather data and also get the team into a championship groove for the stretch run.

“We are a young team that has never raced a full season like this before,” said Ashley. “We have to take advantage of back-to-back races to maximize our opportunities to work together and learn. Mike is a great tuner and we have a great team. I have a lot of confidence in everyone on this team that we will continue to keep winning rounds and get in a good position going into the playoffs.” 

Last year Ashley won the 2020 Summernationals for his first Top Fuel victory on the way to Rookie of the Year honors. Throughout the off-season and as the 2021 season has unfolded he has added marketing partners to enhance his team’s performance. Brands like Auto Shocker and KATO Fastening Systems have returned and continue to utilize Ashley in their marketing efforts. Ashley understands the off-track exposure is as critical as on-track win lights.

“I would not be out here racing as much as I am without Smart Sanitizer and our sponsorship partners like Chip Lofton and Strutmasters.com, Auto ShockerKATO Fastening Systems and our new associate sponsor this weekend Anderson Enterprises out of Oregon,” added Ashley. 

Tony Fay Public Relations