Plainview, NY (August 28, 2023) — The biggest race of the year will have the eyes of the entire drag racing universe on a Top Fuel class led by 11-time Top Fuel winner and 2023 Top Fuel point leader Justin Ashley. The six-time winner in 2023 driving the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster will be looking to win the Dodge Power Broker U.S. Nationals for the first time and duplicate a feat his Funny Car driving father, Mike Ashley accomplished in 2007.
Justin Ashley and Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster race to semis in Brainerd, photo by Gary Nastase/Auto Imagery
“You’re excited for any race but there’s something special about the U.S. Nationals,” said Ashley. “That’s the one that everyone wants to win. That’s the race that cements your legacy in this sport and we want to win that race. It’s a grind because of the five qualifying sessions, because of the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty challenge and then race day on Monday. It really takes a team effort from the beginning of the weekend through the end of the weekend, so that’s a special one. It’s really an exciting way to end the regular season then shift our focus to the countdown.”
This will be Ashley’s fourth U.S. Nationals and the team owner and driver will be looking to improve on his two previous semifinal finishes. As a rookie in 2020 Ashley qualified No. 13 and he beat Billy Torrence, the defending 2019 champion Doug Kalitta before losing to Shawn Langdon in a wild pedalfast. Last year as the No. 2 qualifier Ashley defeated Langdon and Torrence again before losing to eventual U.S. Nationals winner Toyota teammate Antron Brown.
“We have had some memorable races at the U.S. Nationals and would love nothing more than to add a win and join my father as a U.S. Nationals champion,” said Ashley. “We’ve had close rounds of racing before, but I fully expect this year to take the cake. The depth and quality of the Top Fuel field is so good that races are consistently decided by only thousands of a second. There are no easy rounds and that will be on full display in Indianapolis.”
This season Ashley has been at the top of his game more times than not. Through fourteen races Ashley has won six times in seven final round appearances with an additional semifinal appearance at the most recent Lucas Oil NHRA national in Brainerd, Minnesota. His 31-8 win record is by far the best in the Top Fuel category and he has the best average reaction time in Top Fuel. Heading into the final regular season race Ashley is poised to make another serious run at the Camping World Top Fuel world championship.
“All our success so far this season can be attributed to the team,” said Ashley. “It’s been a true team effort both on and off the racetrack. That includes Mike Green and Tommy DeLago tuning the car, the crew guys working on it, and our partners like Phillips Connect, Toyota, Lucas Oil, Mac Tools, Strutmasters.com, Impact and KATO supporting us. We have a long way to go before accomplishing the ultimate goal but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with this special group.”
On Saturday Ashley will be racing in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge for the eight time, a record for Top Fuel and all the professional classes. He has won 18 championship points and earned $54,000 winning five times overall. The race will be contested during the qualifying sessions on Saturday and Ashley will face his Brainerd semifinal opponent Leah Pruett.
They have raised the purse for the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge so there will be $15,000 on the line for the Top Fuel winner,” said Ashley. “But more importantly points are available and the NHRA fans will get to experience more eliminations style racing. This has been a great program and Mission Foods has been an unbelievable asset within our sport. I hope it comes back next season.”
Leading up to the U.S. Nationals Ashley will be participating in several free fan events. On Thursday night Ashley will be attending the Cruz Pedregon open house in Brownsburg, Indiana, signing autographs with many of his fellow competitors at 7:00 p.m. and on Friday he will be attending the Don Schumacher Racing open house to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital signing autographs at noon.
“The U.S. Nationals is our Super Bowl so there are a lot of fun events for our fans leading up to the race,” said Ashley, one of the rising stars on the NHRA tour. “As a representative of Phillips Connect it’s important that I make myself available while also ensuring that I am mentally and physically prepared to compete a high level. Five qualifying sessions and a Monday raceday requires a lot of focus so finding the right balance between racing, events and everything in between will be a key to finding success.”
Ashley leads the Top Fuel points with 1,133 total points and he has a 101-point lead over second place driver Steve Torrence. It will be a battle between these two drivers for the No. 1 seed heading into the Countdown there are 195 total points on the line for the U.S. Nationals. A solid race day for Ashley will lock up the top seed for the six-race dash to the championship.
“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to head into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed,” said Ashley. “We control our own destiny going into the U.S. Nationals which is all you can ask for. Our approach will not change. We will take one round at a time beginning in qualifying and run our very best. If we take care of our business the points will take care of themselves.”
Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel team will be on track on Friday night at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Motorsports Park at 7:00 p.m. for their first qualifying run. He will have four more runs, two each on Saturday and Sunday, to grab one of the 16 spots in the race day field. Final eliminations will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET on Monday with the race being broadcast on FS1 and FOX throughout the day.
About Maynard Ashley Racing
Maynard Ashley Racing (MAR) was founded in 2023 with the express goal of delivering world class results, on and off the racetrack, for a growing community of marketing partners and fans drawn to Justin Ashley, the 2020 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year and seven-time Top Fuel national event winner. Behind Maynard Ashley Racing is a partnership between JCM Racing, led by Joe E. and Cathi Maynard, Joe C. Maynard, and Eric and Kim Lehman, who have taken the NHRA by storm over the last year, and Max Out Motorsports a partnership between Justin Ashley, Dustin Davis and Jim Epler.