(Photo credit Ron Lewis Photography)

Heading into the midpoint of the Countdown to the championship Justin Ashley and the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Shot are poised to make a run at the young driver’s first Top Fuel world championship. In only his second season behind the wheel of an 11,000-horsepower land rocket Ashley has raced to two final rounds and firmly established himself and the Davis Motorsports team as serious championship contenders. The 36th annual Texas NHRA Fall Nationals will be Ashley’s next chance to close the gap on the four drivers in front of him in the Camping World Drag Racing Series points standings. Currently he sits less than a round out of third place in the standings.

“This Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel team powered by Vita C Shot has come a long way very quickly this season,” said Ashley, the 2020 Rookie of the Year. “Every race I continue to get more comfortable, or I pick up on a new experience. Last weekend we had our first early exit in a long time but luckily, we have four races to make up for that. I think we can be in a great position when we get to the last race of the season in Pomona.

Before the season wraps up Ashley will be experiencing the inaugural Stampede of Speed at the historic Texas Motorplex. The all-concrete racetrack is known for record-setting performances and highlight reel runs. Last season Ashley went into race day from his best qualifying position, No. 2, and he raced to the quarterfinals. This year there will be four qualifying runs spread over Friday and Saturday with the second run on Friday providing Ashley and his team the opportunity to win $15,000 in low qualifier bonus money.

 “The Motorplex is an all-concrete track and a really nice facility,” said Ashley, who picked up his first Top Fuel win at the 2020 Summernationals. “It is going to be packed out with fans. We ran well there last year. (Ashley’s current crew chief) Mike Green at the time was tuning for Tony Schumacher and he ran well there last year. We know what we are capable of at this race. We know the track will be fast. Having that $15,000 bonus on Friday night along with four sessions is huge. That extra session gives us the chance to go for it all on Friday night if we do what we need to in Q1. We really have a good opportunity to go for that $15,000.”

The key to success for Ashley has been making a return visit to some the tracks where he had success his rookie season. The added elements of the Stampede of Speed also has the driver who enjoys additional sponsorship support from Auto Shocker and KATO Fastening Systems excited about participating in this unique event.

“I am very excited about the Stampede of Speed. I have never participated in a race like this before,” said Ashley. “It is really more than a race; it is more of a show. This is a template for other tracks to use. It will be a fun experience for the drivers but more than that it will be a fun experience for the fans. That is what we are there for. We are there to win races, but we are also there to entertain and interact with the fans. This whole week and what the Motorplex is doing is a fantastic idea. I am going to make it a point to enjoy all the action.”

Qualifying for the fourth race of the Countdown playoffs will get underway at 4 p.m. on Friday with the Friday Night Live second qualifying session at 8 p.m. The conditions should be conducive to quick times especially with the experience and confidence of crew chief Mike Green. Two more qualifying sessions will round out Saturday with final eliminations starting at 11 a.m.

Tony Fay PR