Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Energy raced to the semifinals today at his first NHRA Mile High Nationals. The second-generation professional driver qualified No. 2 and outran Cameron Ferre and Austin Prock before dropping a close race to eventual race winner Leah Pruett in the semifinals. Throughout qualifying the team battled to get a handle on a strong tune up heading into the final qualifying session from the bottom half of the field. Crew chiefs Mike Green and Tommy DeLago kept working and the final qualifying pass catapulted Ashley into the No. 2 spot and set him up for a strong race day.
In the first round against Ferre, Ashley was first off the starting line with an impressive .051 reaction time and never trailed in the race. As Ferre’s Top Fuel dragster was launching his parachute blossomed and he was robbed of any chance to chase down the Phillips Connect Toyota dragster.
“The first round is always the toughest and you can’t take an opponent like Cameron lightly,” said Ashley, who has two wins this season. “We struggled a little in qualifying but our last run in qualifying jumped us up to No. 2 and really gave us a strong shot today.”
The 2020 Rookie of the Year faced the 2019 Rookie of the Year in the second round as Ashley pulled up beside Prock looking to keep his perfect win streak alive. In their three previous races Ashley was 3-0 against the young driver from Indiana. Prock was first off the line but he was up in smoke almost immediately. Ashley was mixing up some cylinders, but he was charging down track. Prock was unable to pedal his dragster and catch up to Ashley who advanced to his sixth semifinal this season. Ashley earned lane choice over Pruett in the next round.
The Phillips Connect Top Fuel dragster was unfortunately plagued with cylinder issues again in the semifinals as Ashley took off and was immediately down on power. Pruett was on a smooth run that Ashley could not catch up to as they accelerated down the track at Bandimere Speedway. Ashley’s elapsed time of 4.091 seconds was not enough to take down Pruett’s 3.879 second pass, which was the quickest run of the session.
“Thar was a disappointing round for sure,” said Ashley. “We had some issues in the second round against Austin and the team thought we had corrected the issue. We’ll get it all squared away for the Sonoma Nationals. I would have loved to have gotten a couple more round wins today because this track is amazing and the Bandimere family put on a great race.”
Heading into the Sonoma Nationals Ashley will be introducing his fans to the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Energy for the first time along with marketing partners Bendix, Velociti and Sensata Insights, Lucas Oil, and KATO Fastening Systems.
Q1: 4.016 sec, 294.95 mph; Qual. 4
Q2: 8.174 sec, 78.86 mph; Qual. 11
Q3: 3.871 sec, 320.05 mph; Qual. 8
Q4: 3.765 sec, 327.51 mph; Qual. 2
Bonus Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q4)
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, 3.920, 319.22 mph def. Cameron Ferre, Huntington Beach, Calif., Lone Star dragster, 4.366, 264.86 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, 4.144, 291.63 mph def. Austin Prock, Pittsboro, Ind. Montana Brands dragster, 4.721, 194.60 mph
Leah Pruett, Lake Havasu, Ariz., Power Brokers dragster, 3.879, 317.94 mph def. Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by Vita C Energy, 4.091, 303.64 mph
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Mike Salinas 877
2. Brittany Force 867
3. Justin Ashley 785
4. Steve Torrence 744
5. Josh Hart 582
6. Leah Pruett 540
7. Austin Prock 538
8. Shawn Langdon 529
9. Clay Millican 519
10. Doug Kalitta 492
Elon Werner PR