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Justin Ashley Looking for Three-Peat NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

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Points leaders Justin Ashley and the SCAG Power Equipment Toyota Top Fuel dragster team enter this weekend’s Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals with nothing but fond memories of Bristol Dragway.

Last year, Ashley swept the weekend by winning the rain postponed Epping, N.H. New England Nationals, the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge bonus race and the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. While the opportunity to top that kind of a weekend isn’t on the table this year, Ashley is looking for his third consecutive victory at the one-of-a-kind facility.

“It’s one of the more challenging places but rewarding places we race,” Ashley said. “Our team’s experience tuning and navigating this track has played a big part in our success. Last year in Bristol was a weekend I’ll never forget and every time I go to Bristol from now on, it’s going to be something I think about. I am very grateful for that. But at the same time, this is a new year and everything that happened before is in the past. If we want to continue turning on win lights our focus needs on the here and now. It’s going to be a packed house and we want to give the fans a show they deserve. Our team will be ready.”

With six races in the books for the Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series season, Ashley and his SCAG Toyota team have already been to the finals four times, visiting the winners circle twice. Ashley’s final rounds came in four consecutive events starting with a win at the rain delayed Winternationals before he runnered-up at the Arizona Nationals. Ashley would then earn runner-up points at the Las Vegas Four-Wide event before taking a victory in the four-wide format at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte. Ashley’s race day success has also been coupled with success in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. Ashely has picked up two wins in the specialty race that earns him championship bonus points and a cash prize.

Coming off a rare first-round loss just four days ago at New England Dragway, Ashley is appreciative of the quick turnaround to Bristol Dragway and the busy stretch of events through the summer months.

“This stretch of racing is going to be critical for us to get into a rhythm,” Ashley said. “This will be the first time in 2024 that we have a lot of races in a relatively short period of time. It’s great for our team to get into the flow of things and they will thrive as they always do. But it’s also going to be a test because in the summer months when it becomes hot, the tracks can be really tricky to make a clean pass down. The teams that win are going to get down the racetrack more times than the others.”

Competition at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins with four rounds of qualifying Friday at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. Eliminations are slated for noon on Sunday. Television coverage of the event will be on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with qualifying shows Friday at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Eliminations will air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

This story was originally published on June 5, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.