Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals crucial for championship and rookie contenders
Photos by Ron Lewis
September 29, 2020, St. Louis Region – This weekend NHRA Rookie of the Year top contender Justin Ashley will have another brand new experience as he makes his first trip to World Wide Technology Raceway as a Top Fuel competitor. The rising NHRA star recently won his first Top Fuel title at the NHRA Summernationals and he is currently in the top five in the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. The Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil will be another chance for the Melville, New York second generation driver to continue to establish himself as an elite racer.
“I am looking forward to St. Louis because I have never raced there in any categories,” said Ashley. “It will be a fun experience. I remember going there as a kid and I used to love sitting in those wrap around seats. I used to be in the stands at that race and I am looking forward to being on track this coming weekend. It has a stadium feel that a lot of places don’t have. St. Louis is a great facility and has really great fans.”
The NHRA tour has begun to reach out across the country after hosting four consecutive races at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis from July through Labor Day weekend. Ashley and his Strutmasters.com Top Fuel dragster powered by MANSCAPED™ team are eager to engage with NHRA fans that have been patiently waiting for live in-person racing action.
“It will be really nice to get to another NHRA market. You see all the fans in attendance it really is nice to be able to engage with them. At the end of the day that is what separates NHRA from every other sport,” said Ashley. “Every ticket really is a pit pass. To be able to see the fans to be able to be out here racing over 300 mph in our Strutmasters.com AutoShocker Top Fuel dragster it is just awesome. The truth is we couldn’t do it without Chip Lofton and Strutmasters. His support and the support of our marketing partners like Auto Shocker, MANSCAPED, Kato, Lucas Oil, King Engine Bearings, Justice Brothers, Sanit, Guardlab, Hero Soap Company, Menards and Impact has been second to none.”
The Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil will also be just the second time this season Ashley’s team has raced back to back weekends. For the young team the opportunity to stay in a racing groove is a welcome challenge. Last weekend Ashley’s team had an unusual early exit at the NHRA Gatornationals but heading to World Wide Technology Raceway the team is looking to make another move up the point standings.
“It is exciting to have back to back races. As young team that was really only supposed to be out here part time this season. The back to back races were going to be few and far between with the original schedule. Now we will race the whole season and what that does is it helps me as a driver get into a rhythm and more importantly it helps the team get into a rhythm. When you are able to go back to back to back it really means a lot in terms of working together and figuring out processes and procedures as opposed to one race a month,” explained Ashley.
The Strutmasters.com Top Fuel team will be on track for both qualifying sessions on Saturday and will be looking to turn on four win lights on race day.
Tickets for the October 2-4 Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil are on sale online (www.wwtraceway.com) and also may be purchased at the track. Tickets start at just $42. The annual event attracts many of the world’s biggest names in professional drag racing, including three-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Antron Brown, who has won WWTR’s Top Fuel finales five times over six years. Defending WWTR NHRA champions include Billy Torrence (Top Fuel Dragster), Shawn Langdon (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Motorcycle). WWTR’s NHRA weekend of speed also will include Pro Mods, Mountain Motor Pro Stocks, Nostalgia Pro Stocks and Jet Cars.
For tickets and information, please call WWTR at (618) 215-8888. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Parler, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil
Friday, October 2 — Sportsman categories and Pro Mod qualifying
8 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
8:30 a.m. — Stock class qualifying.
8:50 a.m. — Super Comp time trial.
9:17 a.m. — Super Stock qualifying.
9:38 a.m. — Super Gas time trial.
10 a.m. — Motorcycle.
10:04 a.m. — Sportsman ET.
10:07 a.m. — Pro ET.
10:11 a.m. — Super Pro ET.
10:15 a.m. — Stock qualifying.
10:36 a.m. — Super Comp time trial.
11:03 a.m. — Super Stock qualifying.
11:24 a.m. — Super Gas time trial.
11:45 a.m. – Midway open.
11:46 a.m. — Top Dragster qualifying.
12:08 p.m. — Comp qualifying.
12:28 p.m. — ET Motorcycle.
12:29 p.m. — Sportsman ET.
12:31 p.m. — Pro ET.
12:33 p.m. — Super Pro ET.
12:35 p.m. — Stock.
12:56 p.m. — Super Comp.
1:23 p.m. — Super Stock.
1:44 p.m. — Super Gas.
2:11 p.m. — Jr. Dragster exhibition.
2:15 p.m. — Comp.
2:35 p.m. — Top Dragster.
2:56 p.m. — Nostalgia Pro Stocks.
3:06 p.m. — ET Motorcycle.
3:07 p.m. — Sportsman ET.
3:08 p.m. — Pro ET.
3:09 p.m. — Super Pro ET.
3:10 p.m. — NHRA Street Car Showdown.
3:11 p.m. — Mountain Motor Pro Stocks.
3:21 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown.
3:32 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying.
Saturday, October 3 – Pro qualifying (Top Fuel Dragster, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle); Sportsman eliminations
8 a.m. – Parking lots open.
9 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9:15 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations.
9:45 a.m. – Midway open.
11:55 a.m. – First round of High School Challenge eliminations.
Noon – Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association exhibition.
12:30 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
1:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
2:35 p.m. – Second round of High School Challenge eliminations.
2:40 p.m. – Mountain Motor Pro Stock qualifying.
2:55 p.m. – Factory Stock Showdown qualifying.
3:10 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
3:40 p.m. – Final round of High School Challenge eliminations.
4 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
5 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
6:10 p.m. – Sportsman eliminations.
7 p.m. – Track closed.
Sunday, October 4 – Final eliminations for pro classes (Top Fuel Dragster, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Sportsman categories
8 a.m. – Parking lots open.
9 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. – Midway open.
11 a.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
Noon – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
12:40 p.m. – Pro Mod eliminations.
1 p.m. – Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.
1:10 p.m. – Mountain Motor Pro Stock eliminations.
1:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
2 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
2:20 p.m. – Pro Mod eliminations.
2:30 p.m. – Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.
2:35 p.m. – Mountain Motor Pro Stock eliminations.
3 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
3:15 p.m. — Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
3:25 p.m. – Pro Mod eliminations.
3:30 p.m. – Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.
3:35 p.m. – Final round of Sportsman eliminations.
3:45 p.m. – Final round of Mountain Motor Pro Stock eliminations.
3:50 p.m. – Parade of champions.
4:05 p.m. – Final round of Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.
4:10 p.m. – Final round of Pro Mod eliminations.
4:15 p.m. – Final round of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
4:25 p.m. – Final round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
All times are Central. Schedule subject to change.
About World Wide Technology Raceway
World Wide Technology Raceway is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 600 acres, WWTR is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. WWTR’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, recently-expanded 2.0-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility, a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue and the Gateway Drive-In Theater at World Wide Technology Raceway (a drive-in entertainment venue able to accommodate 3,000 cars). WWTR acquired Gateway National Golf Links, adjacent to the speedway property, in 2019. WWTR was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from the St. Louis Attractions Association. In 2018, owner and CEO Curtis Francois received the Innovator Award from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission in recognition of his work for restoring World Wide Technology Raceway (known then as Gateway Motorsports Park) to prominence.