--- Home Page
--- What's New
--- Features
--- Features
--- E-mail

NOTE: Refresh this page each time you visit to ensure you see the latest updates

The latest update as of February 24, 2020

2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

Here's all the final round pictures from the NHRA Arizona Nationals.


Big Tire Shootout --- Big Tire Shootout crash

While these pictures weren't the final round of the "Big Tire Shootout" exhibition, they aptly portrayed what can happen when you combine a very powerful turbocharged engine with small tires. When the turbo power kicks in full-tilt, it can overpower even a big tire car. Thankfully, the driver walked away from this wreck after a series of scary moments that culminated in a hard smack into the guardwall.


STK - Jon Irving (near lane) vs 
Brad Burton (far lane) --- SS - Justin Lamb (near lane) vs 
Kyle Rizzoli (far lane)

(LEFT) After six gruelling rounds of eliminations, Snohomish, WA's Brad Burton (far lane) overcame the handicap head start of Jon Irving (near lane) for the Stock Eliminator victory. Burton's wheelstanding D/SA '72 Firebird ran just over his dial-in as Irving gave away what could have been a sure victory by breaking out after leaving first by .032 in his I/SA '73 Satellite.

(RIGHT) It's another wheelie picture, with #2 in the world in 2019, Kyle Rizzoli (far lane) leaving hard in his SS/CA '69 Camaro enroute to the Super Stock win over the SS/AS '10 Cobalt of Justin Lamb (near lane). Both racers ran right on their dial-in, but Rizzoli's .001 light (versus Lamb's .042) sealed the deal.


SG - Matthew Larson (near lane) vs 
Ed Olpin Jr. (far lane) --- SC - Val Torres (near lane) vs 
Cal Belden (far lane)

(LEFT) It's a pair of topless '63 'Vettes (the de rigeur choice in S/G due to the wide-open peripheral vision) in the Super Gas final, and it was a reaction time victory for Ed Olpin Jr. (far lane) over Matthew Larson (near lane). Olpin's near-perfect .001 leave (.052 for Larson) coupled with a .043 over the index defeated Larson's closer .032, and when the math all added up it was a four hundredths of a second margin for the winner.

(RIGHT) The Super Comp final featured another incredible light, as Val Torres (near lane) was perfect on the tree (.000), while opponent Cal Belden (far lane) cut it just a smidgen too close, red-lighting by just .005 to hand the automatic win to Torres. With his 8th national event victory in hand, Torres coasted slowly into the winner's circle with a 13-second e.t., while Belden added insult to injury by breaking out (-.003) on the big end to lose the race at both ends of the track.


TS - Ed Olpin (near lane) vs 
Paul Mitsos (far lane) --- TD - Art Hoover (near lane) vs 
Phil Unruh (far lane)

(LEFT) Top Sportsman showcased a wide assortment of door cars and when the finalists rolled out of the lanes, it was MountainView Tires Paul Mitsos (far lane) taking the win in his '08 Dodge Stratus, cutting a great .003 light and running less than three hundredths off his dial-in. In the other (near) lane, Ed Olpin in his '68 Camaro cut a very good - but not good enough - light at .023, and ran just a little more off his dial-in (.035) to give Mitsos the win by a total margin of .027 seconds.

(RIGHT) As the name implies, this final featured two Top Dragsters, with Art Hoover (near lane) cutting the better reaction time, (.012 to .059) and forcing his opposition Phil Unruh (far lane) to break out in a vain attempt to catch him at the stripe. Hoover's 6.603 - 198.93 pass was just three thousandths from his dial, while Unruh's 6.346 - 223.21 was four thousandths too quick. A close race and interesting for the spectators to watch a high-speed bracket race.


COMP - Doug Lambeck (near lane) vs
Dean Carter (far lane) --- TFH - Jay Turner (near lane) vs 
Ricky House (far lane)

(LEFT) With the odd-sized 15-car field, Competition Eliminator featured plenty of bye runs, as both finalists, Doug Lambeck (near lane) in his D/SMA '08 Sunfire and Dean Carter (far lane) B/ND front-engine dragster, received two free runs in the four rounds before they met in the final. You might be wondering how a 15-car field could go five rounds of eliminations.... and the simple answer is that the field was set up for 32-cars and that's the ladder the NHRA went with. Still wondering? Don't ask me! Both drivers cut average lights but Carter gave up a bunch of index, going .646 under to cover Lambeck's .575 under effort. Check out the NHRA rulebook for an explanation of how the index system works in Comp... but allow an hour or two to absorb it all.

(RIGHT) The final round of Top Fuel Harley was a bit of a non-event as Ricky House (far lane) redlighted to give the automatic win to national record holder Jay Turner who ran into lots of trouble after launching and coasted across the finish line in 9-secons at less than 100 mph. The entire TFH eliminator started off on the wrong foot, with one no show, one broke before staging, one broke after staging, and one 15-second run in the opening round of eliminations. The only bright spot of that opening round was Turner's awesome 6.193 - 237.75 pass that he nearly duplicated in the semi-final with a 6.209 - 233.76. To put those runs in perspective, no one else ran quicker than 6.63 in eliminations.


PS - Bo Butner (near lane) vs 
Erica Enders (far lane)


FC - Tommy Johnson Jr. (near lane) vs 
Jack Beckman (far lane)


TF - Doug Kalitta (near lane) vs 
Steve Torrence (far lane)

Going into the final round, everything seemed to be working in Doug Kalitta's favour. He opened the season two weeks ago with a convincing victory at the Lucas Oil Winternationals, and had worked his way through the full 16-car field with quicker passes in each round leading up to the final. His race day performance was especially impressive after qualifying in the #8 position, with a decent 3.740 in the opening session, but failed to get past the 300' mark on his other two attempts.

Sunday was a different story however, as his first round 3.711 took out Shawn Reed, then Doug dropped into the 3.60's in the next stanza, taking out low qualifier Brittany Force on a holeshot, 3.695 to 3.685 to advance to the semifinals. In that crucial round, he took out Antron Brown with his best run of the weekend, dropping a 3.672 - 330.55 on the cylinder-dropping Brown to move into the final, with lane choice, against Steve Torrence.

Torrence meanwhile was hitting all the right notes throughout qualifying and eliminations. After a successful test session at Wild Horse three weeks ago, he and dad Billy decided to sit out the Winternationals. That decision sent some shockwaves through the drag racing community, and the reasons offered by Team Torrence for their non-appearance were difficult to accept at face value, but that was their choice. Right or wrong.

Pushing the politics to the side and getting down to business, Steve and Billy Torrence came off the trailer with all guns blazing, and ran side-by-side 3.74's in the first qualifying session, to take the #3 and #4 positions respectively. Then Steve cranked out a very strong 3.671 - 326.48 to take the pole after Friday's second session. He only lost the top spot to Brittany Force in Saturday's lone session by one-thousandth of a second, to start Sunday's eliminations from the #2 spot.

Despite taking an easy first round win over Jim Maroney by a 3.717 to 4.436 verdict, Steve was only the seventh quickest car of the round, with Brittany Force (3.643) and Leah Pruett (3.654) well in front of his performance. In fact, Torrence was outrun by father Billy, who put down a 3.683 to march towards what would be a semi-final match between the two Torrences. In the second round, Steve held lane choice over Shawn Langdon only by virtue of his slightly quicker speed, but got past Langdon in a tire-smoking pedalling duel at a less than scintillating 4.570 - 203.31 e.t.

That win set up the semi-final against Billy who had advanced over a tardy Leah Pruett in a 3.703 - 3.688 race that was decided by Leah's .205 reaction time. Going into the semi without lane choice on what was proving to be a tricky surface, Steve parlayed a superior light (.067 to .095) over his Dad as they ran nearly identical elapsed times and speeds: Steve's 3.698 - 329.58 took the winlight by half a car length over Billy's 3.699 - 329.91 pass.

That brought Doug Kalitta, on a seven-round winning streak, and holding lane choice, up against the 2019 World Champion, Steve Torrence, in what was shaping up to be quite a battle for the second title of the 2020 season. Both drivers reacted identically, but tire haze at half track undid Kalitta's bid for the win and Torrence cruised to victory with a blower banging 3.679 - 321.27 over Kalitta's slowing 4.052 - 218.90 in what was a fitting end to an exciting event.

Jay Mageau & Bob Snyder --- Clay Millican & Bob Snyder

Here's a couple of selfies from Bob Snyder's cell phone. On the left is well-known Canadian Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car owner/driver Jay Mageau, enjoying the Arizona sun for a while before he heads back to the Great White North. To the right is an even better known Top Fuel driver, Clay Millican who looks like he's "photobombing" Bob's picture.