Heading into the second race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster team powered by National Debt Relief are looking to write their name into the record books. This weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals will be the last NHRA national event at the storied facility located 20 minutes from beautiful downtown Phoenix and Ashley would like to etch his name into the winner’s column. The fourth-year pro has raced at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park twice before and the 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year is hoping the third time racing in the desert will be the charm.
“The NHRA has had so many great races at this facility,” said Ashley, who has qualified No. 5 in both of his previous races in Arizona. “Every race is equally as important. But this one has added significance. We’d love the opportunity to join a long list of previous winners in Phoenix. We have high expectations for ourselves and look forward to racing in front of a sold-out crowd.”
With three qualifying sessions on the schedule Ashley knows it will be critical to come off the trailer on Friday night and lay down a solid number. At the season opening NHRA Gatornationals the team battled some early season issues during qualifying before losing a close first round race at Gainesville Raceway. Ashley was at the top of his form off the starting line with a stellar .038 reaction time, quickest of the round in the losing effort.
“There is so much that goes into making these 12,000-horsepower race cars perform at a high level. It’s one of twenty-one races,” said Ashley. “The race in Gainesville quickly went into the rear-view mirror and our focus immediately shifted to Arizona. We have a championship team with the right mentality and skillset to achieve our goals. We will be ready for this weekend and understand the importance of each pass down the racetrack beginning on Friday night.”
Over the off-season Ashley renewed a number of marketing relationships including KATO Fastening Systems and added Century 21 Realty Specialists, Mac Tools and National Debt Relief. These companies and brands are seeing the rise of an NHRA superstar and championship contending team.
“It’s an honor to represent the partners that we do,” said Ashley. “I am fortunate to work closely with each of them and truly value their time, energy and commitment to the success of our program. I love being the spokesperson for Phillips Connect, the leader in the field of trailer telematics. I love representing National Debt Relief, a company that prides themselves on helping clients achieve financial independence. But most importantly, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with each one of the amazing companies that contribute so much to our team both on and off the racetrack.”
In Ashley’s rookie season he raced to the quarterfinals starting from the No. 5 spot. Last season once again starting No. 5 he was upset in the first round by Tony Schumacher. This year Ashley is looking for another top half of the field or better start in the qualifying order and a long day on Sunday.
“This class was so tough last year, and it’s shaping up to be even tougher this season,” said Ashley. “Every driver who qualifies has a legitimate chance to win the race. We saw it at the Gatornationals and you will see more of the same this weekend at the Arizona Nationals. Teams will have to have four near perfect rounds of racing to put themselves in a position to win. But that is part of what makes our sport so great. The tide is rising and teams are having to rise with it. Our Phillips Connect team is ready.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals will begin on Friday night with one session followed by two qualifying sessions on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will battle for the Wally starting at 11:00 a.m. local time with the race being televised nationally on FS1.