Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Shot showed they will continue to be a team to be reckoned with as the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series heats up. Today at Houston Raceway Park Ashley, who qualified No. 4 raced to the final round coming up a few feet short of his second victory against new points leader Brittany Force. In the opening round Ashley took out Doug Foley, then Austin Prock and reigning world champion Steve Torrence to reach his sixth career final round.
“That was a tough final round and the truth is there are no gimmes out here,” said Ashley. “The entire Top Fuel field is so tough. The guys did a great job today. We had some issues after the semis and they were able to turn it around and get to the final on time. I didn’t do my job. I have to learn from that. Hats off to Brittany and her team. Our Phillips Connect, Vita C Shot Toyota team did a great job this weekend. The good news is we only have to wait a few days until we get to Charlotte.”
In the first round Ashley came into race day hot getting a starting line advantage over Foley, .046 to .092, and he never trailed in the drag race crossing the finish line with a strong 3.740 second pass at 329.26 mph. In the quarterfinals facing his Winternationals final round opponent Austin Prock Ashley had lane choice and once again he grabbed his second win light of the day when Prock redlit with an early start. Ashley’s winning time of 3.792 seconds at 326.79 mph wasn’t enough for lane choice in the semifinals against four-time world champion Steve Torrence.
It was another epic battle for Ashley racing against Torrence, a native Texan and the No. 1 qualifier. Ashley jumped off the line with a .051 reaction time and never trailed in the race. He got to the finish line first with a winning time of 3.760 seconds to Torrence’s 3.778 seconds. His time gave him lane choice heading to the final with his dragster which also enjoys backing from Auto Shocker, KATO Fastening Systems and Lucas Oil.
Just before the team was set to roll out for the last national event pass at Houston Raceway Park Ashley’s Top Fuel dragster had a problem on the warm-up that was recognized as an issue with the lifters. The team quickly replaced the motor and the 2020 Rookie of the Year made the call. As Ashley and Force sat in the water box for the Funny Car final to conclude they had to wait to follow an incident with Funny Car driver Bobby Bode who was unhurt following a dramatic engine explosion that shredded his Mustang Funny Car body.
After the NHRA Safety Safari cleared the track Ashley and Force took the final green light. Unfortunately, for the first time on Sunday Ashley was second off the line. As the 11,000-horsepower dragsters crossed the finish line at over 320 mph respectively it was Force who got the win light.
Ashley will be back in action on Friday for the Circle K Four-Wide Nationals with two qualifying sessions on Friday followed by two more sessions on Saturday before final eliminations at noon on Sunday, May 1.
Q1: 3.697 sec, 330.80 mph; Qual. 2
Q2: 6.815 sec, 86.20 mph; Qual. 2
Q3: 3.737 sec, 325.45 mph; Qual. 4
Bonus Points: +2 (2nd quickest in Q1)
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Shot, 3.740, 329.26 mph def. Doug Foley, Mooresville, NC, Protech Construction, 5.078, 139.65 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Shot, 3.792, 326.79 mph def. Austin Prock, Pittsboro, Ind., Montana Brands dragster, red-light DQ
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Shot, 3.760, 327.51 mph def. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco dragster, 3.778, 323.43 mph
Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Monster Energy dragster, 3.767, 321.42 mph def. Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Shot, 3.763, 329.58 mph
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Brittany Force 420
2. Steve Torrence 388
3. Justin Ashley 367
4. Mike Salinas 349
5. Clay Millican 281
6. Austin Prock 253
7. Tony Schumacher 227
8. Josh Hart 220
9. Doug Kalitta 206
10. Antron Brown 198
Elon Werner PR