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Rookie Ashley’s Dreams Coming True

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 13 2019
Justin Ashley is making his NHRA Top Fuel debut this weekend in North Carolina. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Justin Ashley always knew he wanted to race in the NHRA, but the second-generation driver never expected to make his Top Fuel debut at age 24 or be able to intertwine his two passions – racing and renovations.

Driving for Davis Motorsports, Ashley made his Top Fuel debut at zMAX Dragway in the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals. His elapsed time of 3.831 seconds made him 12th fastest after four qualifying rounds Saturday. That pits him against Mike Salinas in first-round eliminations Sunday, starting at 11 a.m.

  The 3.831 seconds, which was recorded in Ashley’s first qualifying round Friday, was faster than his father, Mike, ever ran during his drag racing career.

“That was something I never even thought about and something I never even realized until (NHRA lead announcer) Alan Reinhart brought it up,” said Ashley, a two-time event winner in Top Alcohol Dragster. “I think it’s a pretty cool fact. Other than that it really doesn’t mean too much. More important than that I was just happy we were able to run down the track, run fast and really get a baseline for us as a group and be able to work off that for the rest of the weekend.”   

After Sunday’s race, Ashley plans to compete in two of the season’s final three events – Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif. 

“It’s been quite a journey from Junior Dragsters to work up to this level,” the Plainview, N.Y., resident said. “To be able to come out here and make my Top Fuel debut is a little emotional for me. I am trying to keep my emotions in check for the weekend. I don’t want to make anything bigger than it is…but just focus on the task at hand.” 

That task this weekend is racing, but on Monday, it switches back to his real estate business. Ashley flips 25 houses a year in New York State, primarily in Long Island, and often encounters dead animals and black mold in the houses he’s renovating. His real estate success has led to a “Fix, Flip It, Fuel” series that will be on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

“It’s going to follow my life on and off the race track,” Ashley said. “So you will see what I do in my everyday job flipping houses and going through some of these houses, and the challenges of learning to drive a 300 mph Top Fuel dragster. It really gives you in-depth insight into my life and all the details of the team behind the scenes.” 

  Ashley said he didn’t begin flipping houses as a way to fund his racing. 

“I love real estate,” he continued. “It’s something my father has been in and it’s something I just kind of picked up on after I graduated from school. But part of that motivation is definitely being able to come out here and race. I know without working I couldn’t even consider racing. Racing is something I love to do so it’s definitely a driving force in putting my best foot forward in the real estate business.

“Both have their own specific set of challenges, but I think each helps me get better at the other, dealing with different things and seeing different things and getting life experience.” 

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  With qualifying concluded at zMAX Dragway, Steve Torrence owns the No. 1 position in Top Fuel with an E.T. of 3.711 seconds. Jack Beckman’s new track record of 334.07 mph and his E.T. of 3.873 seconds made him the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car. Erica Enders earned her third straight No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock with an E.T. of 6.506 seconds. Steve Johnson surprised everyone in Pro Stock Motorcycle and claimed his first No. 1 qualifying position since 2013 at Englishtown, N.J. It was the fourth of his career. 

“I can promise you we cherish this NHRA No. 1 qualifier with all our heart and soul,” Johnson said. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 13 2019
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