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The latest update as of February 26, 2022

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NHRA Arizona Nationals SATURDAY Report

The first qualifying session on Friday night saw some great times turned by the Pro Stock cars, with the first 12 cars on the ladder bunched within five hundredths of a second of each other, from Erica Enders great 6.540 - 210.44 at the top of the heap to #12 Matt Hartford in at 6.594 - 209.49. Going down from there, the times dropped another four hundredths to the #15 spot, before Troy Coughlin Jr. sat on the bump spot with a 7-second timeslip. The three alternates were all much slower than that though.

In the Funny Car field, there were just enough entries to fill the field, but with Jeff Diehl taking out the timing blocks at the finish line, both his and Paul Lee's times were DQ'd, leaving just 14 cars with an e.t. At the very top was Winternationals champ Robert Hight with a great 3.838 - 332.18, followed closely by his boss (John Force) and three others in the 3-second zone. The top half of the field was anchored by the Aussie car of Peter & Helen Russo, driven by Jeff Arend to a solid 4.130 - 277.03 pass. After that, the times dropped off rapidly, as a number of the normally strong cars simply overpowered the track.

For the Top Fuel brigade, that inconsistency turned into a torrent of tire smoking and tire shaking runs. After Rob Passey shut off with a fuel leak before his burnout, the first pair (b>Tripp Tatum and Todd Paton got down the track in good order, with Tatum's 3.684 - 310.55 seemingly showing that some great performances were in the offing. Tatum's career best e.t., coupled with an early shutoff (note the 310-mph speed), must have had some of the teams salivating at the propsect of great e.t. possiblities. Alas, the next two pairs resulted in a best clocking of 7.50, before Leah Pruett's 3.703 - 328.22 and Doug Kalitta's 3.657 - 329.56 lit up the scoreboards.

After that career best e.t. for Kalitta, it was all downhill. The last four pairs notched a collective "best" of 5.886 - 108.64, as car after car failed to get past the 330' mark before igniting the tires or running into severe tire shake. With 84 (F) track temp and less than 1800 ft. corrected altitude at the start of the session, it appeared that the rapidly cooling evening desert temperatures caught out a large contingent of crew chiefs. When the smoke cleared - literally - at the end of the session, there were just three 3-second e.t's on the sheet, one 4-second, one 5-second, one 6-second, and a slew of 7-and 8-second times and two cars that didn't make a run. Not the most auspicious start to the weekend.