MELVILLE, N.Y. --
Strutmasters, the specialty company founded by Chip Lofton, signed with Ashley before the 24-year old driver had turned a tire in Top Fuel competition. Ashley's performance record in three races behind the wheel of the Dustin Davis Motorsports dragster, which included a semi-final finish and three round wins, impressed Lofton, almost as much as the team's professionalism.
'You don't usually get a chance to check somebody out before you sign up for a year," Lofton admitted. "But in this case, we did. We liked everything that we saw. I think he's a rising star. I think next year they have their act together, even better with 12 races and they will do well."
As for the driving, Lofton sees something special in the kid.
"Amazing," Lofton said. "Young fellow. 24-years-old in business driving this crazy car. A lot of power. A lot of speed and never he flinches. He's good on the lights. He's the nicest person you'll ever meet."
Ashley made his NHRA debut in 2017, driving a Top Alcohol Dragster for Randy Meyer, where he qualified No. 1 and won his first national event in consecutive debut weekends. He added a second national event win in Brainerd, Minn.
Top Alcohol Dragster was always a stepping stone towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Top Fuel racer. Lofton's Strutmasters.com brand has enabled Ashley to pursue this next level in his career.
"It means the world to be able to renew with Strutmasters for next year. I think more importantly than anything else; it's the type of person that Chip Lofton is," Ashley said. "He's such a great person, not only did he help me get my start, but he helped other up-and-coming drivers get there start in NHRA. And to have him on our side is just the kind of support that we need. We feel fortunate to have him be a part of our team, and we feel fortunate to be a part of the Strutmasters family."
Ashley is quietly amassing a marketing partnership platform, which also includes Auto Shocker and Lucas Oil. His ascension through the ranks has been the focus of an online reality show/documentary Fix, Flip, Fuel (#FIXFLIPFUEL) airing on the CompetitionPlus TV YouTube.com channel.
Lofton is a fan of the show, and not because he's one of Ashley's sponsors.
"Oh, his show is awesome," Lofton said. "I think everything's going to go streaming and I think he's first in line on some of that. I think it's going to get him a big fan group for both reasons, because of the car and because of the flip deal. Because everybody loves those flip shows, they also like Justin, and that says a lot."
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