NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Saturday News & Notes from the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals

News, notes, quotes, and photos from day two of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. (Updated throughout the day).
29 Jun 2024
Kelly Wade
Race coverage
Travis Shumake

Mother Nature came in with something to prove this morning, but she seems to have gotten it out of her system, and we are up and running! Top Fuel cars are in the lanes and preparing to make their first pass of the day.

Top Fuel Q3

Second-generation nitro pilot Travis Shumake is the very first car on track today, and a short while later Billy Torrence is the first one to show that the track is coming back to life after this morning's absolute soaking. The NHRA Safety Safari put forth intense effort to rejuvenate the racing surface, and here it shows as Torrence puts a 3.748, 332.59 on the scoreboard. Rust-Oleum-backed T.J. Zizzo and Billy's kid, lead "Capco boy" Steve Torrence, both clock 3-second passes behind him to show we're well on our way to a good session.

Kyle Wurtzel's Heartwood dragster has multiple cylinders out and bangs the blower. The supercharger sits a wee bit askew as he comes to a stop, and we're down for a short while as Safety Safari carefully checks the track to ensure there are parts nor pieces left behind.

Top Fuel Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, round one

First up: Kalitta Air Careers pilot Shawn Langdon and Matco Tools campaigner Antron Brown. Brown gets away first by a bit and powers his way to a 3.717, 3.739 win. Both drivers improve on their previous qualifying times, but it's Brown who moves ahead to the final round of the Challenge. Langdon's 335.73 mph speed is the new track record.

Richmond winner Doug Kalitta and his Alan Johnson-tuned Applied Innovation Toyota rail continue to earn those win lights. This time it's at the expense of Tony Stewart and his Dodge Direct Connection/Mobil 1 dragster, 3.709 to 3.752. Kalitta has low elapsed time in this round of qualifying for three more bonus points, as well.

Kalitta will have lane choice over Brown in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge Top Fuel final. As for the challenge of coming up against the points leader, Brown knows he and his team have to keep marching.

"We just have to keep putting it together," said Brown. "That's been the car to beat, and the Kalitta team has been very strong. We're going to have to put the coals to it and give it all we got."

Funny Car Q3

It's an interesting mix here. Tequila Patron driver Alexis DeJoria matches her previous time to the thousandth, 3.950, and several pairs later we see our first side-by-side 3-second runs of the day for the floppers as Scag Power Equipment-branded Daniel Wilkerson and Chad Green in the Bond-Coat Ford race to 3.928 and 3.960 passes, respectively. D-Wilk is low of the round so far, but his tuner is characteristically displeased.

"Man, the weather here is just killing us. The grains are just off the hook, hot and nasty and sticky. We're just doing our best," said crew chief (and dad) Tim Wilkerson.

Funny Car Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, round one

He's won the last two Mission Challenge titles, and Austin Prock and his AAA Chevrolet are gunning for another in this showdown with Dodge Direct Connection pilot Matt Hagan. Prock's 3.878 beats a strong 3.903 for the win. Their reaction times, though, tell a story of a healthy level of competition. Hagan was a very swift .036 as he left the starting line, and Prock was right there with a speedy .048 reaction.

"I have to get up on the wheel for Matt Hagan," said Prock. "He’s a four-time champ and a tough competitor, and you have to be sharp on the Tree when you race those guys. We’ve been one-upping them, but it’s a long season, and we know they’re going to be tough all year long."

Defending Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals champion Blake Alexander and his Schaeffler-branded Ford are head-to-head with Bob Tasca III and his Nitro Mustang Dark Horse Funny Car here, and these two are running side-by-side until Alexander has trouble down track. Tasca is going to the final round of the Mission Challenge on a 3.888 to a 4.529.

"It’s real hard making power in this air and keeping all the cylinders lit," said Tasca. "If we can keep them all lit, we’ve got a shot. If not, it’s going to be a tough race."

Pro Stock Q3

After losing the later round last night due to parts breakage, Matt Hartford makes a good pass as the first Pro Stocker out today. His 6.696 is not an improvement on the 6.606 he ran the day before, but it’s a good start to the day for the Total Seal/GETTRX team.

Chris McGaha takes his Harlow Sammons Racing Chevy to a great 6.674 - it's not an improvement over yesterday, but it's low of the round so far and a move in a positive direction for a driver who has been challenged throughout the season.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. takes over low of the round with a 6.662 for the Scag Power Equipment brood, then Eric Latino wheels the GESi Camaro to a 6.650.

Pro Stock Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, round one

The JHG/Melling Chevrolet, driven by incoming Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, got a spot in this week's Challenge because last weekend's semifinalist Bo Butner is not racing here in Norwalk. She's up against RAD Torque Systems-branded Dallas Glenn, the current points leader. She is first off the starting line and grabs a bit more as they approach the finish line to defeat Glenn, 6.656 to 6.660.

Richmond winner Aaron Stanfield brings his JHG/Melling Chevy to the starting line to square off with five-time world champ Greg Anderson and his Summit Racing-decorated Chevrolet.

No. 1 qualifier Anderson clocks a blistering 6.611 to shut down Stanfield's 6.656, and he scores three bonus points and a trip to the #2Fast2Tasty final.

"We obviously have a little bit of work to do [before the Mission final], but that's nothing these JHG/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment guys aren't used to," said Enders. "It's the ultimate matchup between Greg Anderson and myself. I think we really like to go toe-to-toe; there's no love lost there, for sure. Our job is going to be just go out there and focus. It'll be a good old fashion drag race, and may the best girl win."

Pro Stock Motorcycle Q3

Not much improvement here for the Pro Stock Motorcycle gang, but Matt Smith and his Denso Buell is quickest of the session so far with a 6.806, while wife and Denso teammate Angie Smith is fastest on a 200 mph pass beside him.

On to the Challenge!

Pro Stock Motorcycle Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, round one

It's Hector Arana Jr. and Richard Gadson up first, and this is expected to be a great race between two strong riders. Gadson is No. 2 in the points, but Arana is the defending event champion here in Norwalk. Gadson stumbles on the starting line aboard his RevZilla/Mission/Vance & Hines Suzuki and looks to be dead in the water, but Arana has trouble down track and his GETTRX Buell slows. Gadson sees an opportunity and gets right back in it to make up ground quickly and claim the win - but he's a bit sheepish at the top end.

"It's embarrassing, but i've been playing around with different rider positions to help myself on the Tree, andagain I didn’t throw the clutch," explained Gadson. "I made that same mistake in Chicago. I have to stop doing that, and I’m going to stop doing that right now.”

He already has the longest win streak in NHRA history, but Gaige Herrera wants more. The reigning world champ launches his RevZilla/Mission/Vance & Hines Suzuki with a crisp .023, butJohn Hall is already away on his Denso/B.R.A.K.E.S. V-Twin with a .013 reaction time. Hall gets the nod by just .004, 6.826 to 6.820.

“He’s always excellent on the Tree, and the last race he gave me a little door of opportunity to beat him and I didn’t,” reflected Hall. “I did my job here and got around him. We’re excited.”

Top Fuel final qualifying

The field was full, and three drivers were pushing to get in. The conditions have improved in terms of air and track temperature, but the humidity is still relatively high. It's not going to be easy to play the cards right here.

Neither Travis Shumake nor Spencer Massey are able to break in, and for the first time in his career, Josh Hart and his R+L Carriers dragster are also locked out by a distressing .002-second. Kyle Wurtzel will race on Sunday.

Shawn Reed improves to a 3.762, and in the next pair, both Jasmine Salinas and T.J. Zizzo put a 3.762 on the scoreboard. It's an improvement for Salinas, and Zizzo nearly matches his earlier time.

Wow! Justin Ashley's 3.702, 300.47 in the Scag Power Equipment Toyota bumps him up from fifth to No. 2 for now. Steve Torrence and Tony Stewart also improve. Doug Foley, in the United Garage Doors dragster, and Shawn Langdon both pick up a bit as well.

Top FuelMission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, final round

Doug Kalitta and the Applied Innovation/Mac Tools Toyota dragster are here in the #2Fast2Tasty final again, this time next to Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Toyota. Kalitta blasts to a 3.703 with a track-record setting 337.16 mph speed to get the win over a 3.755.

"It's a heck of a ride right now," said Kalitta. "Alan [Johnson, crew chief] and Mac [Savage, co-crew chief] and this whole Mac Tools Applied Innovation Toyota, we're all working together hard, everybody is doing their job, and I just couldn't be happier."

Funny Car final qualifying

Cruz Pedregon is gaining steam in the Snap-On Tools Toyota with his best run of the weekend, a 3.983, 317.94. Dave Richards pick up a tick, as does Alexis DeJoria. Blake Alexander's 3.874 in the striking green Schaeffler Ford, Paul Lee's 3.882 in the McLeod Dodge, and Matt Hagan's 3.884 for the TSR Nitro team also stand out.

Funny Car Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, final round

In another stunning (yet becoming somehow predictable) move, Austin Prock and the AAA Chevy power to an awesome 3.853 that resets the Summit Motorsports Park track record for e.t. and defeats Bob Tasca III's strong 3.882 in the Dark Horse Mustang. It's the third consecutive #2Fast2Tasty win for Prock.

"This AAA team, they're just a bunch of animals," said Prock. "That was stout. This place is really tough to drive, you have to fight the wheel the whole time, but it puts on a good show for the fans. These guys are doing a great job reading the racetrack and their notebook."

Pro Stock Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, final round

For the second race in a row, Greg Anderson is the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge winner. He rips off a .024-second reaction time to Erica Enders' .052 and lays down a 6.595 to defeat a 6.619. For Anderson, the win is particularly rewarding as it comes at Summit Motorsports Park at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, and he's flying the colors of Summit Racing on his Chevrolet Camaro.

"I think it's the paint job; it brings back a lot of great memories for me," said Anderson, who was also the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge winner in Richmond and now has six bonus points that will come into play when the championship points are reset. "I'm very proud to wear that name on the door. It's been a great weekend so far, and that's a great tuneup tomorrow for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals."

Pro Stock Motorcycle Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, final round

Denso/B.R.A.K.E.S. V-Twin rider John Hall gets the jump on RevZilla/Mission/Vance & Hines campaigner Richard Gadson by just a bit, .024 to .031, but Gadson makes up the difference quickly and continues to stay ahead. He earns his first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge title, 6.819 to 6.857.

Factory Stock Showdown incident

During the first round of eliminations in Flexjet 91 Factory Stock Showdown, Jason Dietsch’s car struck the right wall near the starting line and crossed the centerline, striking the left wall before coming to a stop. Dietsch was alert, exited the car under his own power and was examined onsite by NHRA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Surface.