PLAINVIEW, NY (July 13, 2022) — Already in the thick of the NHRA Top Fuel championship battle, Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Energy will tackle a new challenge on the side of the mountain at Bandimere Speedway this weekend. For the first time the third-year pro will compete in the NHRA Mile-High Nationals outside of Denver, Colorado. The NHRA Western Swing will begin this weekend at the picturesque Bandimere Speedway before moving to Sonoma, California and Seattle, Washington over the following two weekends. The three in a row series will test teams and drivers in a variety of racing environments as the 2022 NHRA Camping World regular season ends.
“Members of our team have raced in Denver before, but this will be my first time racing on the mountain at Bandimere Speedway,” said Ashley, the 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year. “Ironically, in 2006, I won the NHRA FanNationals in NHRA’s Funny Car simulators while watching my dad race in Denver. Now I’ll be racing in Top Fuel sixteen years later. Crew chiefs Mike Green and Tommy DeLago always give me a great racecar and I look forward to taking on the challenge of racing at a high altitude.”
Ashley and the Phillips Connect Top Fuel team powered by Vita C Energy have won twice this season already and reached two more final rounds. They are sitting in fourth place in the Top Fuel point standings just one point out of third place. The young driver and team owner knows this three race swing is a great opportunity to make a move on the three teams in front of him with six races left in the regular season.
“This is crutch time to begin stacking round wins and picking up points on the competition,” said Ashley, who has a win this year at the Winternationals and Thunder Valley Nationals. “There is a sense of urgency around this time of the year but it’s important to stay within ourselves. All the Top Fuel teams want to win these next three races but it all starts with taking one round at a time in Denver. This Phillips Connect Vita C Energy team has been doing a great job all season and I am excited about these next three races.”
Two final rounds in the previous three races has Ashley feeling confident but not over-confident. The Toyota backed team has qualified in the top half of the field at every NHRA national event this season except for the New England Nationals. Ashley started that event from the No. 14 spot but raced his way to the winner’s circle from the bottom half of the field. This was the second time the young driver has secured a win from the No. 14 spot.
“We got our first win this season as the No. 14 qualifier in Bristol,” said Ashley. “We have won from the top of the field and bottom of the field and that’s indicative our Phillips Connect Vita C Energy teams’ mentality. I know that no matter where we start a race, we can get four win lights on race day. That is a great feeling as a driver.”
Throughout the season Ashley has faced some of the toughest competition in the Top Fuel class. On the track Ashley has kept his cool amongst the toughest field the category has seen in recent memory. Off the track Ashley has represented his marketing partners like Phillips Connect, Toyota, Vita C Energy, Bendix, Velociti and Sensata Insights at autograph sessions and through his trackside hospitality program. The chance to mingle with sponsors and their guests motivates Ashley throughout qualifying and on race day.
“The fan and sponsor access are one of the coolest parts of NHRA,” said Ashley. “Our marketing partners and their guests are right beside our pit area all weekend. I can interact with them throughout the day. It helps me keep my head in the race because you want to do a good job for the people at the track and everyone watching on the FOX broadcast.”
The Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster team powered by Vita C Energy will be on track beginning Friday with two qualifying sessions. Saturday will feature two more qualifying runs before the quickest sixteen Top Fuel dragster will compete on Sunday for the coveted Wally trophy. The race will be broadcast nationally on FOX beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.