CHARLOTTE, NC (April 30, 2022) — Third year pro Justin Ashley continued his hot start to the 2022 NHRA season with his first career No. 1 qualifier at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals today at zMax Dragway. Driving the Phillips ConnectToyota Top Fuel dragster powered by Vita C Shot at the fifth race this season Ashley ran to the top of the field on Friday night with a 3.669 second at 331.77 mph run. It earned the 2020 Rookie of the Year the provisional pole. The time held up through two more rounds today when conditions warmed up and challenged all the teams.
“We are fortunate to have accomplished a lot in a short period of time,” said Ashley, who won the season opening Winternationals and has a runner-up from last weekend’s SpringNationals to his credit this season. “To be able to sit here and say we are the No. 1 qualifier at an event like this with the depth of the Top Fuel field is great. This says a lot about our Davis Motorsports team. Crew chiefs Mike Green and Tommy DeLago do a great job race in and race out. There is always pressure no matter where you are if it is No. 1 or No. 16. There is pressure on race day because it is race day. You are out there to win, and no one puts more pressure on ourselves than we do. We are not racing the person in the lane next to us or the next car a couple lanes over, we are just racing the race track.”
The success of Friday afforded the team some latitude today to take some chances. With a strong number in the bank his team took the opportunity to invest in their future.
“We used Q3 today to do a little bit of testing,” said Ashley, in the zMax Dragway press room on Saturday. “It was more important to us to set ourselves up for tomorrow. It wasn’t the kind of weather to go for it and try to improve on our No. 1 time. We just wanted to go up and down the track. In Q4 we were racing the race track and it didn’t work out in our favor but we were able to hold onto that No. 1 spot. It is just about getting better even if that means we aren’t improving by the numbers.”
Friday’s two runs earned Ashley six qualifying bonus points since he posted the quickest runs of each session. In the first session on Saturday his pass of 3.771 seconds was third quickest and he picked up another point. The championship contender knows that these early season bonus points can contribute to late season success.
“I wouldn’t say we are counting points, but we know how important the points are,” said Ashley. “Yesterday and even today in qualifying we knew we wanted to pick up some of those bonus points. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is a long season especially with how things are set up with the Countdown. The points take care of themselves if you take care of business on the race track. Our best bet is to focus on ourselves and our team.”
Tomorrow racing will begin at 11 a.m. ET with Ashley leading a quad made up of No. 8 qualifier Austin Prock, No. 9 qualifier Antron Brown and No. 16 qualifier Cameron Ferre. Ashley will be seeking his first round win in the unique four-wide racing format.