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Justin Ashley Wins Postponed Winternationals While Qualifying for NHRA Arizona Nationals

In front of a sold-out crowd, Justin Ashley and the SCAG Power Equipment Toyota Top Fuel dragster team picked up their third consecutive NHRA Winternationals victory Saturday at Firebird Motorsports Park while qualifying No. 11 for the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

It was the fourth consecutive Winternationals final round for Ashley who had to race past Shawn Reed, four-time campion Steve Torrence and two-time champion Brittany Force in Pomona, California two weeks ago before inclement weather postponed the finals.

Racing against eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, Ashley would earn his 12th Top Fuel victory, 14th national event win, on a holehsot. Ashely left the starting line in .023-seconds and crossed the finish line at 3.802 seconds and 330.15 mph defeating Schumacher’s 3.772 at 326.38 with a .081 reaction time.

“First off, Tony Schumacher is a great competitor. They have a great team over there and I have a lot of respect for them,” Ashley said. “Even though it’s not in Pomona, it is still the NHRA Winternationals and is a very prestigious race so to win it once is extraordinary. To win in three times in a row is an incredible blessing.

“This event, the way everything played out, it was really a test for our team and they came through just as they seemingly do every time. We’ve been fighting a few gremlins in the car but they’ve been working at it, picking at it. It looks like, hopefully, we have it resolved,” Ashley said. “I think we needed this win as a team. This was a huge win. It’s just so special because you never know when you’ll be in another final. This is the first official Top Fuel win for Randy (Gloede), Maria (Oldenburg) and the whole team at Metalcraft of Mayville and SCAG Power Equipment. We are out here because of all of the SCAG users, all of the SCAG dealers and distributors that let us come out here and do what we love. Thank you for all that you do.”

With his run 3.802 pass, Ashley also qualified No. 11 for the NHRA Arizona Nationals and will, ironically, face Schumacher in the first round of eliminations.

In Funny Car, Daniel Wilkerson and the SCAG Power Equipment Ford Mustang Funny Car team qualified in the No. 8 position with a 3.974-second pass at 294.43 mph that they ran in the final qualifying session. Wilkerson will matchup with reigning world champion Matt Hagan in the first round of eliminations.

Dave Richards and the Versatran/BlueBird Funny Car team narrowly missed qualifying for Sunday’s eliminations. Richards had his best run of qualifying in the third session with a 4.227 second run at 296.31 mph. He finished in the No. 17 spot, just .069 outside of the quick 16.

Eliminations at the NHRA Arizona Nationals are slated to being Sunday at 11 a.m. Television coverage of the event continues on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). The Winternationals Finals air Saturday at 10:00 p.m. ET with a second qualifying show Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET. Eliminations for the NHRA Arizona Nationals will air Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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

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