PLAINVIEW, NY (May 30, 2023) — Last year Justin Ashley used a runner-up finish at the NHRA New England Nationals as the launching pad for a summer-long surge of consistency. This year the third-year professional is the only multi-time Top Fuel winner so far this season, has picked up two Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victories and two weeks ago announced the formation of Maynard Ashley Racing to make his Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel team even stronger for the foreseeable future. The 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year is eager to get to a track that is one of the closest facilities to his hometown.
“New England Dragway is considered a home track for my family and I since we can make the drive over in a few short hours,” said Ashley, a seven-time Top Fuel national event winner. “It’s nice to race in the Northeast and give my family and friends the opportunity to join us at the racetrack. The New England Nationals are sure to be packed with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.”
Justin Ashley and Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster, photo by Gary Nastase/Auto Imagery
This will be Ashley’s third race at the historic facility and the young driver and team owner has never started from the bottom half of the field. This season Ashley has started every race except for the season opening Gatornationals from the top half of the field. The strong qualifying efforts combined with his nearly psychic reaction times have made Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster team one of the leading championship contenders. They have two wins this season collecting Wally’s at the Arizona Nationals and the famed Winternationals and Ashley was also the No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals. It was a stellar weekend for the team and one that he would like to continue to duplicate throughout the season.
“Getting back-to-back wins at the Winternationals from the No. 1 spot was an amazing feeling for this Phillips Connect Toyota team,” said Ashley, who sits No. 4 in the Top Fuel points less than two rounds out of first place. “It was proof that all the work our Maynard-Ashley Racing team put in during the offseason was justified. We haven’t gone as many rounds as we expected in the races since then, but we have a great racecar surrounded by a great team. You can never get too high or too low in this sport. We are totally focused on trying to win the New England Nationals and doing whatever it takes to be successful on and off the racetrack.”
With the new team announced Ashley continues to build a solid foundation on and off the racetrack. Long-time sponsors KATO Fastening Systems and Strutmasters along with Lucas Oil, Toyota and most recently Mac Tools will all benefit from this new organization. Over three years Ashley has built his organization along with Dustin Davis to be a team corporate sponsors and fans will want to be a part of for years to come.
In 2022 Ashley qualified No. 8 and defeated Dan Mercier in the first round. He received a competition bye when Scott Farley could not make the call in the quarterfinals. A close semifinal win over 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon set up Ashley’s final round against Mike Salinas. It was a close race, but Salinas was able to get the win and Ashley took the positives from the race and parlayed that into a stretch run over the summer that saw him winning the Thunder Valley Nationals the following event and racing to five semifinals over the next seven races leading up to the Countdown.
“I really think that the two races, Epping and Bristol, gave us a lot of momentum going into the summer,” said Ashley. “We rattled off a ton of semifinal finishes over a short period of time and improved upon our performance even further during the Countdown. You want to use the regular season to get ready for the playoffs and that is what we did beginning with the New England Nationals last year. We have a championship winning team led by Dustin Davis, Mike Green and Tommy DeLago and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Two weeks ago in Chicago Ashley took another step towards the Top Fuel championship winning his second Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge race picking up the $10,000 top prize but more importantly another three championship points. As it stands right now Ashley has six championship points in the bank with the opportunity to pick up more at future events with at least a semifinal finish. The specialty race on Saturday has fired up Ashley and the rest of the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors.
“I love what Mission Foods is doing with the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge,” said Ashley. “It gives the fans another opportunity to watch competitive racing while teams try to accumulate valuable bonus points. Our sport is built on entertainment, and I am a big proponent of doing everything we can to increase the value of entertainment.”
This weekend Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel team will get their first shot at the track on Friday night under the lights when qualifying starts at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday there will be two more qualifying sessions at 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. leading to final eliminations on Sunday at 11 a.m. (ET). The race will be broadcast nationally on FS1 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (ET).