Ten years ago, an impressionable 12-year old Justin Ashley watched his father, then fuel Funny Car racer Mike Ashley, drive his way to a magical NHRA U.S, Nationals champion.

The magnitude of the accomplishment stuck as a lasting memory for Ashley.

Friday, during the first day of qualifying at the Chevrolet Performance NHRA Nationals, the second-generation Ashley was the quickest Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racer on the property as he drove Randy Meyer's A/Fuel dragster to a 5.164 elapsed time at 277.83 miles per hour. 

"To be able to lead both sessions, at a race this prestigious, and one that remains special in my heart is a pretty awesome experience," Ashley said. "We are just going to do what we can to maintain this pace and step up when we can."

Slipping into second was Chris Demke, while Ashley's teammate Megan Meyer was third. Dave Kovar's 5.402 anchors the 16-car field. 

Johan Lindberg set the pace in the Top Alcohol Funny Car division with a 5.398 elapsed time edging out second-gen Funny Car driver John Lombardo, Jr., who turned in a 5.421.

 Comp veteran Frank Aragona, of Freehold, NJ.,  stepped up in the final session to take the No. 1 spot in Comp Eliminator as he ran a 7.305 elapsed time, -0.775 under the E/Dragster Automatic index. Finishing in second was the K/Altered Automatic '32 Bantam of Clint Neff with Greg Kamplain's B/Econo Dragster in third. 

Ernie Neal remained atop the Super Stock field with a 9.482, -1.568 effort. 

In the indexed-bracket divisions, William Riddle (8.905) and  Scott Udenberg (9.900) head into Saturday's eliminations as the top seed in their respective categories.