By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Phillips Connect sponsored Top Fuel Dragster driver Justin Ashley ended Austin Prock’s return to the sport on Sunday. Ashley defeated Prock to win the 62nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, California.
Ashley went 3.694 at 314.53 mph to claim the Wally. Prock went 3.713 at 333.00 mph in the losing effort.
Prock had been sidelined for the past two seasons without sponsorship support. In the off-season, it was announced by John Force Racing that he would be rejoined by his 2019 sponsors in Rocky Mountain Twist and Montana Brand to return to the driver’s seat.
“We knew coming into the day the Top Fuel field was going to be tough,” Ashley said. “You saw today races separated by such little margins. We really had no layups at all and you’re never really going to have any layups. To be able to beat guys like Antron Brown, Steve Torrence, the four-time champ, and Austin Prock, who’s doing a great job, really solidified what we came out here and wanted to do. We spent the off-season trying to work on power, pick up and get to where we wanted to and I feel like today you could really see that.”
Before this final round, Ashley had a 1-0 advantage over Prock. This was the first time that the two drivers faced each other in a final round.
Ashley defeated Jim Maroney, AB Motorsports owner Antron Brown and four-time Top Fuel Champion Steve Torrence to advance to the final round. Prock had to go through Clay Millican, Tony Schumacher, who is making his full-time return to the sport this season, and his John Force Racing teammate Brittany Force to advance to the final round.
Prock had a small starting line advantage. However, by the time the two drivers went past the Christmas tree, Ashley had captured the lead.
After gaining the lead, Ashley never trailed again in the race. He won by 0.0184 seconds or approximately nine feet.
Ashley now has three Top Fuel Wallys.
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