California’s Ashley Sanford is ready to shake her bridesmaid status in Top Fuel at this Saturday’s New Years Thunder event at Willowbank Raceway.
The talented USA driver finished runner-up at the same event at Willowbank last season and claimed another runner-up finish at the opening round of the 400 Thunder Top Fuel Championship at Sydney Dragway in November.
Sanford finished third in the points overall last season, a reward for the consistency that she hopes will pay dividends in Queensland this weekend.
“I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish; that last race especially in Sydney we were so close (to a win),” she said. “It makes us hungrier to go after it at Willowbank.
“It will be hot out there so consistency can win you a race in those kind of conditions. That has been our biggest strength, we can run the numbers when it’s hot. We can go A to B and if something happens in the other lane we capitalise.”
With several appearances at Willowbank Raceway already on her resume, Sanford said she has come to appreciate the history of the 33 year old venue, which has been home to many great moments in Australian drag racing.
“I learned from the fans that is it such a historic track. There is so much love and passion there. I am excited to see everyone there and so long as we can keep our consistency, we can get the win.”
Sanford completed a full season in the Australian 400 Thunder championship during 2017 and 2018 as she continues to search for a drive in her home country. She said being able to compete in Australia with Rapisarda Autosport International worked well to keep her name in the mix.
“The exposure alone has been so beneficial to what I am working on in the USA,” she said. “For me personally, having that seat time and practice, and being in a race environment has been huge for me.
“My comfort level has grown tremendously in the last year and I am so grateful for what the Rapisardas have done to help grow my career.”
Sanford will not be the only NHRA-experienced driver in the mix with Australian ex-pat Richie Crampton also attending New Years Thunder, where he will drive for Lamattina Top Fuel Racing alongside reigning Australian champion Kelly Bettes.
New Years Thunder at Willowbank Raceway features not just the awesome Top Fuel dragster but also Pro Slammers, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike. The main show begins from 5pm this Saturday, January 5.