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Justin Ashley and SCAG Toyota Dragster Ready to Start NHRA Season with a Statement at Gainesville Raceway

When the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season kicks off this weekend at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, Justin Ashely and his Top Fuel team will have a new look to their Toyota dragster with the cat’s eye gold of SCAG Power Equipment. Despite the new livery, Ashely returns with the same team that helped him lead the points standings for nine events and tally a career-best six wins in 2023.

“We’re all excited. It’s going to be a great year. I think we had a lot of success in the past but now we have a tremendous opportunity to take this team to the next level,” Ashley said. “The Top Fuel field is separated by such small margins so having an experienced team and being able to map out some testing throughout the year will be really significant. We have the same team, the same people and personnel in place that we’ve had in the past. In order to have success in the sport, it’s people first and I think that’s critical for us. We’re very grateful to be a part of the SCAG Racing family and look forward to carrying out their mission on and off the racetrack.”

The SCAG Racing Top Fuel team will have a busy weekend schedule with the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout once again being competed during qualifying at Gainesville Raceway. In addition to the four qualifying sessions, Ashely and seven other Top Fuel teams will be battling it out for an $80,000 top prize. The participants will “call-out” their opponents on Friday while the race will be contested during Saturday’s qualifying sessions. As the No. 5 qualifier, Ashley will likely be among those called out by a higher qualified competitor.

“Last year, we didn’t have an opportunity to know much about each other going into the callout, now at least having the test session and Bradenton PRO Superstar Shootout, we know a little bit more,” said Ashley who called out Mike Salinas in 2023. “Whether we do the calling out or get called out, it’s going to be filled with excitement and anticipation.”

Ashley, who finished fourth in the championship points standings for the third consecutive year in 2023, has had two semifinal finishes at the Gatornationals, in 2022 and 2021. His best qualifying effort came in 2022 when he started race day from the No. 6 spot. As far as season openers go, Ashley picked up a win at the 2022 season opening, the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., a feat he hopes to repeat this year. 

The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway will feature two rounds of Top Fuel qualifying on Friday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. and two sessions on Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. During the qualifying sessions on Saturday Ashley will also be competing in the Pep Boys All-Star Callout. The final round of the Callout will be contested on Saturday at 4:25 p.m. and will not count towards qualifying. Eliminations will take place Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. Television coverage of the event will begin with qualifying Saturday at noon ET on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) and continues at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with the Pep Boys Callout. A second qualifying show airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on FS1 with eliminations shows at 10:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. ET on FS1.

This story was originally published on March 7, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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