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Justin Ashley stampedes Top Fuel field for repeat win at Texas Motorplex

by Michael Haag | Posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2022

Justin Ashley. Photo courtesy of the NHRA


By Michael Haag 

ENNIS, Texas — Coming into the Stampede of Speed Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, Top Fuel points leader Justin Ashley held a narrow 14-point edge over his competition. After qualifying with the 10th best time of 3.766, Ashley bulldozed through Sunday’s bracket and knocked off top qualifier Austin Prock for the overall victory. 

Justin Ashley. Photo courtesy of the NHRA

It was a battle between the two youngsters, as the two 27-year-olds duked it out in the final round for the third time of the 2022 season. Ashley cruised to victory, clocking 3.688 seconds at 329.24 miles per hour. The Plainview, N.Y. native is on the cusp of a world championship, now hoisting a 82-point lead in the standings. going into the final two races of the season at Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif. 

The 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year won at this same track a year ago. On Friday, Ashley said that win in 2021 helped catapult him and his team points-wise. It was no different this year.

“Past history has shown that if you win Dallas, you really put yourself in a position to really go for that championship,” Ashley said. “So, it was a critical win.”

Ashley opened the day with a first round win over Doug Kalitta, following that with a narrow win over Kebin Kinsley, who didn’t have a ride to the FallNationals until this past Wednesday. 

Brittany Force. Photo courtesy of the NHRA

The third round saw Ashley knock off Shawn Langdon, who took down Brittany Force in round two. Force reached a speed of 336.3 mph in her first round win over Buddy Hull, a new track record. 

Then came the championship round, where Ashley cruised to victory as Prock barely made it down the strip. His tires wouldn’t hold up after he hit the gas off the starting line. 

Regarding his journey to the final round, Ashley said “no matter who you raced, it always seems to be a gauntlet of opponents.” Despite Force facing an early exit and Steve Torrence being eliminated in the opening round, Ashley said the overwhelming talent level of the class was showcased on Sunday. 

“This class is tough,” Ashley said. “If you asked me, I think it’s definitely the toughest Top Fuel field in NHRA history. And I know a lot of other drivers share the same sentiments.”

Antron Brown. Photo courtesy of the NHRA

Antron Brown, one of Ashley’s teammates, had a solid run on Sunday but ultimately fell eight thousandths of a second shy of meeting Ashley in the final. Ashley said Brown has been huge for him and his development at this point in his career.

“That’s a guy who’s been there, done that,” Ashley said. “He’s a teammate, but he’s more than that. He’s family and he’s always the first to call me or give me advice. One thing that makes him so great, one thing that makes him so special is his ability to thrive when it matters most.”

Ashley’s Phillips Connect-sponsored car now heads to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA Nevada Nationals, which will take place Oct. 27-30. Ashley said with two races left, his 82-point lead over the opposition doesn’t mean much, due to Vegas and Pomona still being ahead. 

“Being this time of the year, knowing that Pomona is points-and-a-half, everything is up for grabs,” Ashley said. “I know it’s gonna come down to the wire but we really wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to us.”

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About the Author

Michael Haag is a Journalism student at Baylor University in Waco, TX. He is also Sports Editor for the school's student newspaper, the Baylor Lariat. He has covered the 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl and multiple Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the site in Waco. Michael has covered Baylor football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and more for the Baylor Lariat. He plans to finish in the spring of 2025 with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism.