Justin Ashley, left and Mike Salinas, right, take off from the starting line in Top Fuel at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals drag races Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP)

Justin Ashley Talks Gatornationals

The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals is taking place at the Gainesville Raceway from Thursday to Sunday. This event will be the first of the 2023 season for the sport. Last year, Tripp Tatum beat Doug Foley in the final round to take home the Top Fuel title.

A Look at Justin Ashley

Justin Ashley, a Plainview, New York, native, has won five Top Fuel races in his three-year career with three of those wins coming last year. In 2020, Ashley was voted NHRA Rookie of the Year and has finished in the top 10 each season. This includes back-to-back fourth place finishes in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Ashley’s career best speed is 334.48 miles per hour. He is sponsored by Phillips Connect, Toyota, Kato and several others.

Ashley credits his father, Mike Ashley, with being the reason he competes in the sport. Mike raced for many years. Therefore, Justin spent much of his childhood around the track.

Ashley on Gainesville Raceway and Other Tracks on the Circuit

Ashley won his first race in the Top Alcohol Dragster category at Gainesville Raceway in 2017. He says that it’s one of the best racing venues because of the history that has been made at the track and the prestige of the event.

He explains that each track is different in terms of surfaces and facilities. However, the biggest difference between each race is the time of year that it’s held. Ashley says that cars can typically run faster in the fall than the summer because of the cooler air and opportunity for more horsepower.

Ashley’s Relationship with the Fans

Unlike other sports, when purchasing a ticket to an NHRA race, fans are also purchasing the opportunity to engage with the teams and drivers. Ashley says that his relationship with his fan base is very important to him and that the same goes for other drivers.

About Shelby Hickman

Shelby Hickman is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism with a specialization in sports and media.

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