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NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Sunday Preview

Race day has dawned at Summit Motorsports Park, and there are trophies to be won at the 18th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Here are a few key things to know before it all kicks off at 11 a.m. ET.
30 Jun 2024
Kelly Wade
Race coverage
Summit Motorsports Park

Race day has dawned at Summit Motorsports Park, and there are trophies to be won at the 18th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Here are a few key things to know before it all kicks off at 11 a.m. ET.

Top Fuel

Points leaderDoug Kalittaand his Applied Innovation/Mac Tools dragster enter the day as the No. 1 qualifier and last night’s winner of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge. Kalitta, who reset the track record for speed in qualifying, has been at the center of winner's circle celebrations three times so far this season, and last week's winner at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals has been to the final round in each of the most recent three events. He’ll start his day with a first-round meeting with Kyle Wurtzel, who battled through the last round of qualifying to ensure a race-day start.

Dodge Connection driver Tony Stewart and Jasmine Salinas are on the same side of the ladder with a round-one match between two relative newcomers to the class. It should be a good match between a diversely experienced racer and a driver who is establishing herself rather quickly as she commands the Scrappers Racing Top Fuel dragster. Stewart’s wife, Leah Pruett, won the event last season.

The most winning Top Fuel driver at Summit Motorsports Park is Steve Torrence, and he’s going after a fourth event win here. Torrence will race Shawn Reed in round one.

Early season leader Justin Ashley and his Scag Power Equipment rail would not have expected to draw eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in the first round, but Schumacher and his Leatherwood Distillery dragster landed 15th in the order. Ashley is looking for a reawakening after a tough trio of races that ended far too early, while Schumacher is aiming to build on back-to-back final rounds in Epping and Bristol.

Other pairings include Doug Foley vs. Billy Torrence; Tripp Tatum and T.J. Zizzo; Antron Brown and Dan Mercier; and Shawn Langdon and Clay Millican.

Funny Car

No. 1 qualifier Austin Prock and his AAA Chevrolet Camaro continued to shine during the most challenging of moments throughout qualifying. Prock handily scooped up all available bonus points (12) and a third-straight Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge title to set up for a strong Sunday in Norwalk. The incoming points leader and first-year Funny Car racer has brought home three wins in six final rounds to start the season, including a triumph at each of the most recent two races. He'll begin his quest for a fourth title on the season with a first-round meeting with Nitro Joe Morrison.

Defending event champion Blake Alexander and his Schaeffler-branded Ford Mustang made a bold and important move in final qualifying with a 3.874 that sent him to the No. 3 position, his best start of the year. Alexander will race Buddy Hull in round one, while J.R. Todd and his DHL Toyota are starting an impressive third for the third time this season. Todd will race Chris King.

Alexis DeJoria and Chad Green will run one another; Bob Tasca III will race Dave Richards; and it will be Paul Lee vs. Bobby Bode, Daniel Wilkerson vs. Ron Capps, and reigning world champion Matt Hagan vs. Cruz Pedregon.

Pro Stock

Greg Anderson came to Summit Motorsports Park with a little extra incentive this weekend as he is flying the flag for longtime sponsor Summit Racing Equipment on the doors of his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. The new look gave Anderson a good nudge of confidence and he parlayed it into nine bonus points in qualifying and the 127th No. 1 of his career. Anderson entered the event No. 2 in the points behind KB Titan Racing teammate Dallas Glenn, who is qualified in the No. 5 position in the RAD Torque Systems Camaro. Anderson will race class veteran and engine builder Larry Morgan, while Glenn will go toe-to-toe with Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Anderson and defending series champion Erica Enders are tied for the most Norwalk wins; they each have three. Enders, driving her JHG/Melling Performance Chevy, will race Elite Motorsports teammate Cristian Cuadra in the first round. It will be a rematch of the Gainesville final in which Cuadra fell into severe tire shake and Enders went straight and clean for the win. Enders has not won a race since then, despite two more final-round appearances, but she will likely be a challenge today as she has the second-quickest car on the property.

Other pairings are Mason McGaha vs. Jerry Tucker; Matt Hartford vs. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; Eric Latino vs. Troy Coughlin Jr.; Deric Kramer vs. David Cuadra; and Richmond winner Aaron Stanfield vs. Chris McGaha.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Resetting the track record for elapsed time (6.748) en route to the 55th No. 1 of his career was a continued stride in the right direction for Denso Buell rider Matt Smith. He has three previous Norwalk wins and will be striving for a fourth, starting with a first-round match with Wesley Wells. On the same side of the ladder as Smith is first-time Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge winner Richard Gadson. The first-time full-time rider came into the event No. 2 in the points behind teammate and fellow RevZilla/Mission/Vance & Hines campaigner Gaige Herrera, who has thus far won every event this season and the past 10 in a row, an all-time NHRA record.

Gadson will race Steve Johnson, who is competing in the 498th event of his long and storied career, and No. 3 qualifier Herrera stands on the other side of the ladder with a first-round rendezvous with Ron "the Rat" Tornow.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle field is rounded out by Jianna Evaristo vs. Chris Bodstick; Angie Smith vs. Eiji Kawakami; defending event champion Hector Arana Jr. vs. John Hall; and 2023 Rookie of the Year Chase Van Sant vs. Marc Ingwersen.

2023 EVENT WINNERS

Leah Pruett, Top Fuel; Blake Alexander, Funny Car; Matt Hartford, Pro Stock; Hector Arana Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle

MOST EVENT VICTORIES

Steve Torrence, 3, TF; Jack Beckman, 3 FC; Greg Anderson, Erica Enders, 3; PS; Andrew Hines, 5, PSM

TRACK RECORDS

Top Fuel - 3.666 seconds by Brittany Force, June '22; 337.16 mph by Doug Kalitta, June, '24
Funny Car - 3.853 seconds by Austin Prock, June '24; 334.65 mph by Robert Hight, June '17
Pro Stock - 6.523 seconds by Erica Enders, July '14; 212.63 by Enders, July '14
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.748 seconds by Matt Smith, June '24; 201.58 mph by Matt Smith, June '21

NATIONAL RECORDS

Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. ‘19, Reading; 338.94 mph by B. Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Hight, July ’17, Sonoma
Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, Mar. ’22, Gainesville; 215.55 mph by Enders, May ’14, Englishtown
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.627 sec. by Gaige Herrera, Oct. '23, Gainesville; 205.04 mph by Matt Smith, July '21, Sonoma

EVENT SCHEDULE

SUNDAY, June 30:Pre-race ceremony, 10 a.m.; eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION SCHEDULE

SUNDAY, June 30: FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 2 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, June 30: FS1 will televise one hour of round one eliminations coverage at 4 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, June 30: FOX will televise two hours of finals coverage at 5 p.m. (ET)