Justin Ashley wins Top Fuel in Topeka

NHRA: Ashley, Tasca, Enders Win in Topeka Finale

Top Fuel dragster points leader Justin Ashley, Funny Car veteran Bob Tasca III and five-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders won at the Menards NHRA Nationals late Sunday in Topeka.

Ashley continued an impressive run as he claimed his sixth win of the season, while Bob Tasca III and Erica Enders each claimed their second victories of the year at the Menards NHRA Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park.

Top Fuel

In the final round, Ashley edged Brittany Force in Top Fuel. Ashley’s victory with his sixth win in 13 starts this year. He was solid behind the wheel with reaction times in the .030 range in the last two rounds against past champions Antron Brown and Brittany Force.

Justin Ashley wins Top Fuel in Topeka
Top Fuel points leader Justin Ashley continued his impressive 2023 season as he defeated defending world champion Brittany Force in the final round

“We have a lot of history as a team here. Jim Epler was the first Funny Car driver to go 300 mph. He did it right here in Topeka, and my father won Funny Car here in 2007. This is the first race that him and I have won professionally at the same venue,” said Ashley. “It’s really exciting, and each one is more special than the next. We had four incredible turnarounds today, and the team did a good job. Their ability to maintain composure and consistency on and off the racetrack is really second-to-none.

“It was tough to stay focused today. We really didn’t know what today was going to bring but every driver and team were under the same circumstance. Not knowing if we were going to get a race in, let alone four rounds today, was probably the biggest challenge of all. But you have a lot of confidence as a driver when you have a team like the Phillips Connect team.”

Funny Car

In Funny Car, Tasca continued to impress at Heartland Motorsports Park, earning his second straight victory at the facility by taking down points leader Matt Hagan in the final round with a run of 3.88 at 332 driving his BG3 Ford Mustang. Tasca delivered the quickest run of the Funny Car weekend under the lights against Hagan, moving to fifth in points while also picking up his second victory in what has been a standout season.

Bob Tasca wins Funny Car in Topeka
Bob Tasca wins Funny Car in Topeka

“It was a hard-fought day and I give all the credit to the guys. Every time we warmed up the car, there was something wrong,” said Tasca. “They just fought through it. The car shut off in the first round, second round, third round, we were struggling with putting cylinders out and having the safety box shut the car off. That run was a monster run (in the final).

“That’s what’s different about this team from any team I’ve been on. I’ve never had the car that could just step up. This team, led by Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara, it’s a different attitude than any I’ve been around. We’re one of the quickest qualifying cars year-to-date, hot tracks, cold tracks, anything in between we can go up there and run low E.T. It was a big time run, a statement run for this team. Going into Brainerd and Indy, we’re in the top five. If you have that leaving Indy, you have a really good chance to win the championship. This car can go to any race and win, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that before.”

Pro Stock

Enders topped Greg Anderson in a classic Pro Stock finale.

Enders earned her second victory this season and 45th in her career and beat a strong list of contenders to reach the final round. She knocked off Chris McGaha and teammate Aaron Stanfield to open the day before facing off with points leader Dallas Glenn, who won against Enders a day earlier in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

Erica Enders wins Pro Stock in Topeka
Erica Enders wins Pro Stock in Topeka

“Today was just a great day,” said Enders. “Coming in, we felt like we struggled – yeah, we were No. 4 qualifier, but my car wasn’t running as great as some of my teammates, and we certainly weren’t running as good as the other guys. We knew we had our work cut out for us today. Looked up the ladder first thing this morning and it was stout. It was pretty cool that I had to battle everybody from a different team this time except for Aaron.

“I’m fortunate to have such a great team that when everybody was eliminated everybody was all-hands on deck for the quick turnaround. Like always, when my guys’ backs are against the wall, they perform the best. You give Mark Ingersoll a couple opportunities, and he’ll get better. That’s exactly what we did today. We improved on every round. I’m just really grateful he’s in my corner and I’m glad to have the guys I have that have my back.”

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