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Justin Ashley, SCAG Runner-Up at NHRA Nationals

Tom Macht photo

Justin Ashley and the SCAG Power Equipment Toyota Top Fuel dragster team raced their way to their second consecutive final round of the year, 20th of Ashley’s Top Fuel career Sunday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park.

Ashley, who entered race day as the No. 11 qualifier, began his road to the finals with a rematch from the Winternationals finals against Tony Schumacher. Ashley would come up with the holeshot win again with a 3.804-second pass at 328.22 mph and a .039 reaction time to Schumacher’s 3.791 at 325.69 and .067 reaction time.

In the semifinals, Ashely would face reigning world champion Doug Kalitta and pull off a 3.825 second run at 326 mph to defeat Kalitta’s 3.866 at 307.37. The win would line Ashley up with motorsports legend Tony Stewart for the second time. Ashley would improve to 2-0 against Stewart with a 3.844 at 323.74 bettering Stewart’s 3.885 at 316.45. The win would set Ashley up with a final round against veteran racer Shawn Langdon.

Langdon would have the starting line advantage and Ashely and with SCAG team wouldn’t be able to catch up. Ashley would cross the finish line at 3.849 seconds and 324.98 mph while Langdon had a 3.760 at 318.69.

“Overall, it was a great weekend finishing the Winternationals with a victory on Saturday and then a runner-up finish for the Arizona Nationals today. It’s good momentum and a result of how hard the team is working,” Ashley said. “It’s fun to go rounds in front of so many SCAG dealers and we want to keep that going every weekend. We’re happy to roll into another even immediately and excited about our first opportunity of the season to go four-wide racing.”

Daniel Wilkerson and his SCAG Ford Mustang Funny Car team started race day with a statement. Qualified No. 8, Wilkerson would face No. 9 qualifier, reigning world champion Matt Hagan. Tuned by his father Tim, Wilkerson would handle the SCAG Mustang to an impressive 3.949 second pass at 324.28 mph to defeat the champ’s 4.043 at 310.48.

Facing rookie Funny Car driver, and eventual race winner, Austin Prock in the second round, Wilkerson and the SCAG Mustang would be up in smoke almost immediately and have to shut off to cross the finish line in 7.514 seconds at 98.44 mph while Prock would have a 4.053 pass at 280.54.

“We made a lot of progress this weekend, and we’re really proud of that. My dad really had the car tuned up for the first round. He saved us and we made a badass run,” Wilkerson said. “Our base tune-up has moved on us a little over the winter, so we didn’t make a big enough change for the track conditions in that second round. But we have a good hot rod again and I’m excited to be heading to Vegas.”

The Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series season continues with the first of two four-wide events April 12-14 with the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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This story was originally published on April 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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