In a rematch of last year’s Top Fuel final round at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Justin Ashley picked up his second straight win at the storied event, powering past Austin Prock on Sunday at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) also won the third of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Ashley went 3.713s at 330.63mph in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota dragster powered by National Debt Relief, leading from start-to-finish against Prock’s 3.762s at 327.43mph. It gives the Top Fuel points leader his second straight victory and ninth career win, as well as a clean sweep of the weekend in Pomona after winning the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday.
Ashley beat Krista Baldwin and Antron Brown to reach the final round, posting a series of incredible reaction times along the way. He was an impressive 0.033s on the starting line in the final round against Prock as well, giving Ashley his 10th straight round win to put a tremendous stamp on the start of his 2023 campaign.
“I’m not sure it gets any better,” Ashley said. “It was just an incredible day. To get two wins in a row, plus the deal on Saturday, it’s just amazing. It really takes an entire team effort from start to finish. This car has been on absolute rails. I’m just really proud of our guys and we are really going to enjoy this one.
“I think last year we took a big step in the right direction and this year, our focus was to take it to the next level and I think you’ve seen that, especially in these last two races. So I feel like we’re on an upward trajectory, but we’re going to stay focused on the present moment. This was probably the best weekend of racing we’ve had as a team.”
Prock reached his first final round of the year after he got past Leah Pruett, Steve Torrence and John Force Racing teammate and defending world champion, Brittany Force. Those two will match up in the next Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Chicago, while the other pairing will feature Ashley and Brown.
Hagan jumped back in the points lead with his second win in three races for Tony Stewart Racing, going 3.967s at 328.06mph in his 11,000-horsepower Haas Automation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to defeat defending world champ Ron Capps. After qualifying just 10th, Hagan and his team were consistent throughout eliminations, driving past Blake Alexander, Alexis DeJoria and Terry Haddock.
Hagan posted a brilliant 0.032s reaction time in the final round, while Capps ran into trouble early in the run. The 45th career win for Hagan was also the seventh at In-N-Out Pomona Dragstrip for the multi-time world champ, which is second behind only John Force in Funny Car at the legendary track.
“It’s a great day when you can go from 10th in qualifying and win the race,” Hagan said. “I woke up and knew we had a little bit of a hill to climb as a team, and it’s just one of those deals where as things progressed and the car goes down the track, you get more confident. Just to watch (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and what he does on the racetrack, there’s very few weekends where that guy doesn’t impress me.
“I’m glad to have him in our corner and I’m just super proud of my guys. It’s pretty amazing to be able to put a car in the winner’s circle with a new sponsor like that. Funny Car is tough and it’s going to be a dogfight, and there’s just no room for error because it’s so tough.”
Capps advanced to his second straight final and 142nd in his career, as the defending world champ got past Paul Lee, No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon and Bob Tasca III on Sunday. In the next Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, Capps will race Tasca in Chicago, while Hagan will take on Haddock.
In a final round matchup of two KB Titan Racing cars, Dallas Glenn drove to his fourth career win and first this season in his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro, beating Matt Hartford in the final round with a 6.546s at 209.92mph. Glenn and his team dialed up an impressive run in the final round, slipping past Hartford by a narrow margin after defeating Chris McGaha, Bo Butner and No. 1 qualifier Camrie Caruso earlier in the day, using a 0.002s reaction time to get past Caruso.
It bumps Glenn to first in points for the first time in his young career and also marks the third different Pro Stock winner in as many races. Glenn’s win also ensures the young standout will have at least one victory in his first three years in Pro Stock.
“It was a great day and anytime I’m tired at the end of it, I know it’s been a good day,” Glenn said. “I’ve got an absolutely great car and it’s been running really well. I’m comfortable in it and I was just able to make a lot of clean runs. It’s really cool to be the points leader right now. I’ve never been able to get it done in Pomona before, and it’s been so frustrating. But I knew the car was going to be really good today and I was just happy it all came together for us.”
Harford, who won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, knocked off Deric Kramer, defending world champion Erica Enders and Aaron Stanfield to reach the final round for the first time this season and 13th time in his career.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action on April 14-16 with the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.