BRISTOL, TN (June 10, 2023) — For the third time this season Justin Ashley and Maynard Ashley Racing Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster defeated a gauntlet of tough NHRA Top Fuel competitors and world champions enroute to victory. The second-generation driver moved into the NHRA Top Fuel points lead with his win at the postponed and relocated NHRA New England Nationals outrunning Dan Mercier, two-time world champion Brittany Force, four-time world champion Steve Torrence and finally in an all JCM Racing final eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.
Justin Ashley and Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel team, New England Nationals winners, photo by Gary Nastase/Auto Imagery
“Everybody out here is tough,” said Ashley, who was competing in his 14th career Top Fuel final round. “I don’t think about it during the race, but after, I think it is important to reflect and appreciate when you go up against some of the best in the world. Each one of these drivers is fantastic. Each one of these teams is great. It’s an honor just to line up next to them, so to turn on a win light with Mike Green, Tommy DeLago (crew chiefs), and the guys is truly special.”
During two days of qualifying last week Ashley was able to get his Phillips Connect Toyota dragster qualified in the No. 10 spot and into a first round race with Canadian Dan Mercier. During the second round of qualifying at the Thunder Valley Nationals on Friday night Ashley began his pursuit of three wins in one weekend. The 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year was first off the line with a strong .038 reaction time and never trailed in the race. It was Ashley’s second consecutive win over Mercier and set up and tough match-up with Force.
In the second round today, Ashley was once again first off the line but his Phillips Connect Toyota dragster ran into problems wounding itself as it powered down the track. Force lost traction but pedaled her race car as she tried to chase down Ashley. He was able to keep momentum and get to the finish line stripe first for a win that came at a cost.
Moving into the semifinals facing Torrence for the second time this season Ashley was looking for another win light. The last time these two drivers faced off was the semifinals of the Arizona Nationals which Ashley won. He was able to repeat history getting his third win light of the day and moving into the New England Nationals final round and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge final round.
“It has been a long week to get to this race,” said Ashley. I feel so grateful. When you come to a race – anytime there is an opportunity to win it is special – but when you have the opportunity to win three races in one weekend, especially at a historic facility like Bristol, it just makes it that much more special. The semifinal against Steve was a big round win because it turned into two final rounds.”
In the final round of the day Ashley was first off the line again and used that advantage to squeeze out a small hole shot win over Schumacher with his 3.846 second run getting to the finish line first in front of Schumacher’s quicker 3.835 second pass. Ashley’s reaction time was .041 to Schumacher’s .061. The was a complete team effort according to Ashley as he spoke to the assembled media after a long and productive day.
“The key word for today’s success is team,” said Ashley. “You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I feel more than confident in saying I have the best group of people behind me. I am just grateful for everybody on this Maynard Ashley Racing, Phillips Connect, Toyota team. Even going into the third round, it was a little wacky. It was a quick turnaround, and we did some damage, which we never normally do, but thankfully we got the win. I just have to credit the guys for putting everything together in time. The job that they always do is phenomenal, but especially this weekend working in the heat and getting it done on a Saturday, really is just amazing.”
With the Thunder Valley Nationals looming tomorrow the possibility of three wins is on the horizon. Ashley was philosophical about the prospect of sweeping the weekend. He knows that the support he gets from all his partners like Toyota, KATO Fastening Systems, Strutmasters.com, Lucas Oil and Mac Tools all play into race day win lights.
“Our plan and our objective coming in – was to win everything, like it is every race, but it is so, so difficult out here,” said Ashley. “Now our focus is just on the here and now, in the present, enjoying this win because they are so hard to come by, but come tomorrow, it’s in the past. We can only enjoy this for a short period of time, but yeah, I think we have a great opportunity to win tomorrow, but there are 15 other cars that feel the same way. I know we are going to put on a really good show for the fans.”
Q1: 4.807 sec, 155.61 mph; Qual. 9
Q2: 9.632 sec; 68.78 mph; Qual. 10
Bonus Points: 0
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster, (.038), 3.755, 327.74 mph def. Dan Mercier, Ross Pistons/Amalie Motor Oil dragster, (.084), 3.768, 317.72 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster, (.058), 4.097, 255.92 mph def. Brittany Force, Monster Energy dragster, (.083), 4.322, 274.05 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster, (.051), 3.892, 319.29 mph def. Steve Torrence, CAPCO dragster, (.096), 3.915, 311.13 mph
Justin Ashley, Phillips Connect Toyota dragster, (.041), 3.846, 324.12 mph def. Tony Schumacher, SKAG Power Equipment dragster, (.061), 3.835, 323.66 mph
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Justin Ashley 518
2. Steve Torrence 510
3. Brittany Force 472
4. Leah Pruett 462
5. Austin Prock 443
6. Mike Salinas 414
7. Antron Brown 408
8. Josh Hart 378
9. Shawn Langdon 335
10. Doug Kalitta 325
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.