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The latest update as of February 27, 2022

NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

NHRA Arizona Nationals SUNDAY Report

We received quite a bonus last night when a bundle of photos, taken from the grandstand, arrived in our email inbox. Our super intrepid photographer, Big Bob Snyder bounced back from a severe case of vertigo on Friday night to make it out to Wild Horse Motorsports Park for the second and third qualifying sessions at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. We were both disappointed that he couldn't be at the starting line, but NHRA has decided that we didn't make the cut for this event as they also did at the recent Winternationals.

PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #2

Alan Prusiensky - PS --- Cristian Cuadra - PS

(LEFT) Still fighting the good fight with a 2012 Dodge Dart, New Jersey's Alan Prusiensky moved up the qualifying ladder from #14 to #13 with a good 6.596 - 208.97 pass. Note that the car is lacking the eCarMover.com signage. Hmm...

(RIGHT) One of the trio of Caudra's competing this weekend, the Corral Boots sponsored Mustang of Cristian Cuadra made a big jump up the ladder with a great 6.559 - 209.59 to move into the top half of the field in the #6 position.

Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane) vs Chris 
McGaha (far lane) - PS --- Mason McGaha - PS

(LEFT) Both drivers in this pairing, Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane), and Chris McGaha (far lane) stepped up, with Caudra breaking into the 6.50's, clocking a 6.594 - 207.56 to take a tentative hold on the #14 spot in the field. With all the cars remaining in the lanes already qualified above him, his position was "safe" going into the final qualifying session. McGaha also improved, making the huge leap from #12 to #1 with a great 6.539 - 209.46. However, his hold on that exalted position was nowhere near safe with ten very quick cars waiting to run.

(RIGHT) The other half of the "Harlow Sammons Racing" team, young Mason McGaha made a small improvement from Friday's 6.574 pass, with a 6.560 - 209.30 coming up on the scoreboards. That small gain paid a good dividend as it moved him up four spots to the #8 position.

Camrie Caruso (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky 
(far lane) - PS --- Rodger Brogdon (near lane) vs Deric Kramer 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Before I write about the racers, this photo grabbed my attention with a full grandstand in the background. It seems like a long time since we've seen that sort of attendance at a drag race. In the near lane, Camrie Caruso, making only her 7th competition pass in Pro Stock, vaulted into the top half of the field with a career best 6.547 - 209.59 pass that put her in the #6 spot. In the far lane, Kyle "Kid Kaos" Koretsky ran just a bit better and climbed all the way to the top of the ladder with a 6.539 - 210.01 clocking.

(RIGHT) Visibly pulling away in the far lane, Deric Kramer pushed the BIO Fuel-backed car to a new low qualifying e.t. of 6.536 - 209.20 that moved him up to the top from the #6 rung on the ladder. Trailing at the finish line, was Rodger Brogdon (near lane), who's planning to run the entire schedule for the first time since 2015, and his 6.575 - 209.10 left him in the #12 spot.

Bo Butner (near lane) vs Greg Anderson 
(far lane) - PS --- Aaron Stanfield (near lane) vs Erica Enders 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Slightly ahead at this point, returning veteran competitor, Bob Butner in his new Johnson's Horsepower Garage Camaro (near lane), ran just a little quicker than his Friday effort, stopping the clocks at 6.559 - 208.52 to move up one spot in the order, from #10 to #9. In the far lane, Greg Anderson slowed from Friday's 6.51 to a 6.562 - 209.15 that was only good enough for #6 on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Saving the best for last, as so often happens, Erica Enders (far lane) got all she wanted on this run with a new low e.t. of qualifying at 6.530 - 210.34 to take the top spot away from Deric Kramer. In the near lane, Aaron Stanfield had to give up the run early and coast to a 6.721 - 174.39 time that left him in the #5 position going into the final session.

TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2

Rob Passey - TF --- Jim Maroney (near lane) vs Clay Millican 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT)The first car out of the lanes was longtime competitor Rob Passey from Salt Lake City, Utah. He's been trying hard, but unsuccessfully, for the past 20-something years to get somewhere with his dragster, and this year, with the invaluable help of veteran crew chief Johnny West, seems to have finally turned the performance corner. Still working with an all-volunteer crew, Passey cranked out a safe and clean career best pass of 4.123 - 270.00 to open the session. That - amazingly - left him in the #4 position on the ladder, but with 16 very capable cars still waiting to run.

(RIGHT) It didn't take long for the other cars to start moving Passey down the charts, as the first pair out of the lanes, Jim Maroney, in the near lane, and Clay Millican in the far lane, lit up the scoreboards with two good passes. Maroney shut off a little early, but still ran into the 3's, with a 3.930 - 294.56 pass, while Millican ran all the way through to a 3.748 - 322.88 clocking.

Steve Torrence (near lane) vs Brittany Force 
(far lane) - TF --- Doug Foley (near lane) vs Justin Ashley 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) And the hits kept coming as last year's top two performers, Steve Torrence (near lane) cranked out a solid 3.715 - 3222.73, while his closest pursuer in the championship chase, Brittany Force one-upped him with a 3.694 - 321.96, good enough for a temporary hold on the #3 spot in the field.

(RIGHT) The next pair rang up a pair of 3.70 runs, as Doug Foley in the near lane, pushed his new car to a 3.766 - 313.07, while on the far side, the Winternationals winner, Justin Ashley slotted into the #5 position on the qualifying sheet with a 3.713 - 329.59 pass.

Antron Brown (near lane) vs Mike Salinas 
(far lane) - TF --- Austin Prock (near lane) vs Shawn Langdon 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) As the session continued, 3.70 passes were coming up in bunches, with Antron Brown (near lane) clocking a 3.735 - 328.30 alongside Mike Salinas (far lane) who pushed a little harder to a 3.714 - 330.39, that was now only good enough for the #6 position. Rob Passey's session opening pass was #4 for a few minutes, but he was now all the way down to #14 on the list.

(RIGHT) After ten consecutive 3.70 - or better - passes, the performance string was broken as Austin Prock (near lane) lost traction at half track and coasted to a 4.915 - 145.52. No such bad luck befell Shawn Langdon in the far lane, as he motored on to a 3.771 - 326.00 pass that was only good enough for #13 in the field.

Leah Pruett (near lane) vs Todd Paton 
(far lane) - TF --- Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) Running near the end of the round for possibly the first time ever, Canada's Todd Paton (far lane), in the Terry Haddock Racing "rent-a-dragster" started falling back early as he shut off to a decent 4.159 - 263.67 that was an improvment over Friday's 4.279 effort, but still left him in the bump spot going into the final qualifying session. In the near lane, Leah Pruett ran very well, but no better than her Friday 3.703, as a 3.725 - 328.14 rang up on the scoreboards. It left her in the #4 position.

(RIGHT) The final pair of the round featured the two quickest cars from Friday, and while they didn't improve their times, both put down solid backup runs. Stopping the timers first was Tripp Tatum (near lane) with the second quickest e.t. of the round at 3.969 - 329.18 as he held the #2 spot in the order. In the far lane, Doug Kalitta was just a fraction slower at 3.700 - 330.39, but ended the session in the top spot.

FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #2

Cruz Pedregon (near lane) vs Jeff Diehl 
(far lane) - FC --- J.R. Todd (near lane) vs Bob Tasca III 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Knocking six seconds off his dismal 9.95 pass of Friday night, Cruz Pedregon (near lane) powered into the top half of the field with a strong 3.859 - 329.10 pass, while in the far lane, Jeff Diehl trailed substantially, but still stopped the timers with a good 4.075 - 279.85 to jump onto the #8 rung on the ladder. Most likely temporarily, as the rest of the field waited to run. Diehl had to make do with his backup body as his ill-fated Friday pass resulted in a badly damaged front end on his primary body.

(RIGHT) The next pair featured side-by-side 3.90 runs, as J.R. Todd (near lane) showed off his new Toyota Supra body to the tune of a 3.908 - 325.69 set of numbers, while in the far lane,Bob Tasca III ran just a little quicker and faster at 3.902 - 329.02 in his Mustang-bodied entry. To show how quickly the field was tightening up, Tasca was #6 and Todd #7 in the field.

Paul Lee (near lane) vs Alexis DeJoria 
(far lane) - FC --- Jim Campbell - FC

(LEFT) Finally getting past half track with the throttle open, Paul Lee, in the near lane, started drifting towards the centerline and shut off to a 4.294 - 215.31 time. In the far lane, Alexis DeJoria jumped into the top half of the field with a very good 3.911 - 323.12 pass.

(RIGHT) Getting to run by himself when Terry Haddock elected to skip the session, Jim Campbell ran strong for 600' before clicking it to a 4.355 - 210.21, leaving him in the #11 spot by virtue of his 4.038 clocking on Friday.

Jeff Arend (near lane) vs Chad Green 
(far lane) - FC --- Tim Wilkerson (near lane) vs Matt Hagan 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Already off the throttle and coasting at this point, Jeff Arend (near lane) started smoking the tires early and shut off to a 5.64, while Chad Green (far lane) made a slight improvement over Friday's 3.982, with a 3.976 - 293.98 time. Despite two good back-to-back 3-second runs, that left the Bond Coat driver in the #10 position.

(RIGHT) Green's tuner, Tim Wilkerson (near lane) didn't quite back up his #3 qualifying 3.85 pass in the first session, but a solid 3.925 - 321.58 showed that he was ready for race day with a solid tuneup. Stopping the clocks first in this pairing, Matt Hagan put down a great 3.861 - 331.36 to stay in the #4 position. His Friday effort of 3.859 showed that the new Power Brokers team were ready to contender on Sunday.

The round closed with an intramural battle between the Team Force cars, with Robert Hight laying down another great run at 3.848 - 330.47 to solidify his spot at the top of the field, while his boss, John Force smoked the tires early and shut off to an 8-second pass, leaving his Friday effort of 3.851 in the #2 spot on the ladder.

Don Knoblouch - TD ---

(LEFT) When he's not driving his Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car (the "Atomic Punk"), this is what Washington state's Don Knoblouch does for fun. He's at the wheel of his Top Dragster, enroute to a second round exit due to a redlight (-.014 light). It wasted an almost-on-the-dial-in 6.415 - 212.49 pass on his 6.41 dial.

(RIGHT) Getting the wheels waaaay up, this Big Tire Shootout driver hangs 'em high during an exhibition run.

PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Despite a rather weak bump spot of 7.066 going into the final qualifier, the first 15 cars on the ladder were tightly bunched between Erica Enders' low e.t. of 6.530 and #15 Alan Prusiensky's 6.596 pass. The three cars on the outside were all well off the pace, but with good air and track conditions for the racers, the fight to get into the field was guaranteed to be intense.

Fernando Cuadra - PS --- Alan Prusiensky - PS

(LEFT) First up was the patron of the Cuadra team, Fernando Caudra and he got the Mustang untracked to the tune of a 6.651 - 207.72 to grab the #16 spot. But his chances of staying in the show for Sunday's eliminations were slim.

(RIGHT) That prediction didn't take long to come to pass, as John Cerbone (not shown) came out in the first pairing of the session and put down a 6.591 - 209.46 to erase Caudra from the qualifying list. Running beside Cerbone was Alan Prusiensky who improved to a 6.579 - 208.88 to move up two spots to the #13 position.

Steve Graham - PS --- Troy Coughlin Jr. (near lane) vs Mason McGaha 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Next up was California's Steve Graham and he laid down his career quickest and fastest pass of 6.594 - 210.73 to climb into the field in the #15 spot, bumping out Fernando Caudra Jr. on speed, as they were tied on e.t. And the field got tighter again, with 14 cars remaining to run, including three currently outside the show.

(RIGHT) One of those "outsiders", Troy Coughlin Jr. (near lane) got his chance to get back in next, and he made the most of it, rocketing up the charts all the way to the #2 spot with a great 6.535 - 210.50 to move the bump spot down to Steve Graham's 6.594 and pushed Fernando Jr. to the #17 spot. In the other lane, Mason McGaha improved by a fraction, from 6.560 to 6.557 - 208.46, to move up one spot from #11 to #10.

Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane) vs Cristian Cuadra 
(far lane) - PS --- Greg Anderson - PS

(LEFT) The next pair was an all-Cuadra affair, with Cristian in the far lane, already safely in the field at #11, improving by four thousandths of a second to a 6.555 - 209.82 and moving up two spots to #9. And the field got tighter and tighter. In the near lane, his brother Fernando Jr., got back into the field by the slimmest of margins with a 6.592 - 208.49 to grab the #16 spot with just one more driver that could bump him waiting to run. In the process, Steve Graham was relegated to first alternate despite his career best numbers.

(RIGHT) After a championship season in 2021, Greg Anderson is finding the going a little tougher this year. He made it to the semifinals at the Winternationals after qualifying fourth, but here he was sitting down in the #7 position, and his good, but not good enough, 6.549 - 209.72 failed to improve on his Friday clocking of 6.541 to leave him in seventh going into eliminations. Not shown in this photo was Matt Hartford who got back into the field in the #13 spot (from #18) with his best of the weekend at 6.570 - 208.84 to bump out Fernando Caudra Jr. and seal the bubble at John Cerbone's 6.591 e.t.

Rodger Brogdon (near lane) vs Chris McGaha 
(far lane) - PS --- Bo Butner (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) With all the bumping drama completed, all that remained was some possible position shuffles and changes in first round matchups. Rodger Brogdon (near lane) matched his previous best - to the thousandth - as a 6.571 - 209.69 left him in #14. In the far lane, Chris McGaha slowed slightly, as his 6.549 - 209.14 wasn't enough to move up from the #5 spot.

(RIGHT) The next pair saw a big change, as Kyle Koretsky in the far lane, pulled away from Bo Butner (near lane), to the tune of a new low e.t. of the meet at 6.520 - 210.21 to snatch the top spot on the ladder away from Erica Enders. Butner slowed from his previous bests to a 6.574 - 208.59, leaving him in the #12 spot.

Camrie Caruso -PS

In the second to last pair of the round, rookie Camrie Caruso ran into heavy tire shake early and coasted to a 10-second clocking as she remained in the #8 spot with her earlier best of 6.547 - 209.59 time.

Qualifying for Pro Stock closed with the two quickest cars (coming into the session) matched up, and both improved but stayed in the #2 and #3 spots as Koretsky held onto the top qualifying position. Aaron Stanfield came closest with a 6.521 - 210.11 falling just one thousandth short of the top, as he moved up four spots from #6. Running alongside him was Erica Enders who ended qualifying in #3, falling two spots despite her best of the weekend 6.526 - 210.24 effort.

TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Going into the final round of qualifying, the burning question that needed to be answered was if Austin Prock could get down the track quicker than 4.159 seconds. If not, then he would be the only non-qualifier in the 17-car field. Of note is that the driver on the bump spot, Todd Paton in the Terry Haddock car, was not in the lanes to defend his position. They had two passes and felt it wasn't a good investment to make the final session, and in all probability, have to run quicker than Rob Passey's 4.123 pass from the second round of qualifying. Also not showing in the staging lanes was Rob Passey as they didn't have to defend their position with Paton electing not to run.

Austin Prock - TF --- Jim Maroney - TF

(LEFT) First up was Austin Prock and he made his last chance count, with a solid 3.739 - 324.83 to move up from #17 to #10 on the ladder. The run ended in a big oily fireball (not shown) and they faced having to run without lane choice on Sunday morning.

(RIGHT) In the first pair of the round, Arizona's Jim Maroney made his third pass of the weekend, but failed to improve on his earlier 3.930 best, shutting off after half track to a 4.382 - 187.81 to leave himself in the #15 spot going into eliminations.

Clay Millican - TF --- Doug Foley - TF

(LEFT) Out next was fan favourite, and ever-smiling, Clay Millican, who lit up the tires on the launch and idled down the track to a 9-second clocking. His earlier 3.748 left him in the #13 spot.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Millican was Doug Foley and with new tuner Aaron Brooks massaging the tuneup, made a small improvement to 3.751 - 315.12, but stayed in the #14 spot in a field that was very tight for the first 14 spots, with a gap of barely a tenth of a second. Foley's 3.76 and 3.75 were both accompanied with early shutoff speeds of "only" 313 and 315 mph, showing there was definitely more room for improvement in the results.

Tony Schumacher (near lane) vs Josh Hart 
(far lane) - TF --- Steve Torrence (near lane) vs Justin Ashley 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) Starting to pull away in the far lane, Josh Hart made a big move up the ladder, from #9 to #5 with his best of the weekend 3.700 - 329.75 that gave him lane choice in tomorrow's first round. In the near lane, Tony Schumacher lost traction and slowed to a 4.966 to stay near the bottom of the field in the #12 spot. And if there were no further movements in the field, Schumacher would have to face Hart in the first round.

(RIGHT) The best side-by-side pair of qualifying came up next, as Steve Torrence in the near lane, barely outran Justin Ashley (far lane), with a great 3.680 - 328.30 to move into the top half of the field, advancing from #9 all the way to #3. Ashley's almost as quick 3.685 - 327.35 pass saw him make a good move upwards also, to #5 from #8.

Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF --- Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF

Next up was the very hard running Tripp Tatum III in the near lane, but he ran into some serious problems near the top end, with what appears to be a head gasket evaporating, slowing him to a 4.297 - 188.12 clocking. In the far lane, Doug Kalitta smoked the tires and shut off to a 4.868 - 149.00, but still finished qualifying in the top spot with his career best 3.657 run from Friday.

Leah Pruett (near lane) vs Brittany Force 
(far lane) - TF

The final pair was an all-female pairing, with Leah Pruett in the near lane leading early before fading to a 3.922 - 232.15 to stay in the bottom half of the field in the #9 position. On the far side, Brittany Force had some good early numbers too before clicking it going into the lights and putting up a 3.799 - 300.20 on the scoreboards. That left her in the #6 spot, a rather unfamiliar position for a team that routinely tops the qualifying charts.

FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

With just 16 Funny Cars in the pits, there was no pressure to qualify, but the final session could affect first round pairings and lane choices, so the pressure was on some of the racers to make improved runs. Somewhat surprisingly, five cars elected to stay in the pits and skip the session. Several were expected, as Jeff Diehl, Terry Haddock, and Jeff Arend run on minimal budgets and can't afford to spend the money it takes to make a pass if they can avoid it. Also on the sidelines were Jim Campbell and in a bit of a surprise, Tim Wilkerson, who was safely in the top half of the field and certain of lane choice for at least the first round of eliminations.

Bobby Bode III - FC --- Paul Lee - FC

(LEFT) Heading for the top end with chutes already out, Bobby Bode gave up on the run early and slowed to a 5.481 - 109.18 time. That left the young racer in the #13 spot with his earlier 4.112 - 239.23 early shutoff pass being his best of qualifying.

(RIGHT) In the other lane of that first pairing, Paul Lee had his troubles continue, smoking the tires immediately, enroute to an 11-second pass that left him in the #15 position. After a forgettable non-qualifying result at the Winternationals, Lee's troubles appeared to follow him back to Phoenix, where he never made it to the finish line under power during pre-season testing.

J.R. Todd (near lane) vs Chad Green 
(far lane) - FC --- Ron Capps (near lane) vs Alexis DeJoria 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Things picked up consdierably in the next pairing, as side-by-side 3.90's lit up the scoreboards. In the near lane, J.R. Todd backed up his earlier 3.908 pass with an almost identical 3.910 - 329.34 to stay in the #8 position, while in the far lane, Chad Green cranked out another good run at 3.928 - 321.35 to finish qualifying with three consecutive 3.90 runs and the #10 rung on the eliminations ladder.

(RIGHT) While it looks like Alexis DeJoria (far lane) is leading here, you can see smoke starting to trail the tires as she lost the grip and slowed to a 4.388 - 197.54 clocking to remain in the bottom half of the field in the #9 spot. In the near lane, Ron Capps picked up a couple of hundredths with a great 3.877 - 329.91, but was unable to move up from his #6 position in the field.

Cruz Pedregon (near lane) vs Bob Tasca III 
(far lane) - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC

(LEFT) As the shadows lengthened, the final few pairs of cars ran, with Cruz Pedregon in the near lane, improving slightly to a 3.861 - 328.14 to cement his hold on the #5 position. In the far lane, Bob Tasca III picked up a bit also, to a 3.881 - 331.45, staying in the seventh position though.

(RIGHT) This second to last pair turned into a single run for Matt Hagan as scheduled running mate Tim Wilkerson stayed in the pits. Coming into the session in the #4 spot with a 3.859 best, he turned up the volume to the tune of a low qualifying 3.823 at a booming top speed of the meet 333.41. With just the two Force cars waiting behind the water box, Hagan was guaranteed at least a top three position on the final qualifying list.

Robert Hight - FC

Running by himself at this point, Robert Hight tried his best to re-take the top spot, but fell just short with a 3.839 - 333.00 to stay in the #2 spot, while running mate John Force smoked the tires early and gave up to a 9-second time, settling for the #3 spot on the ladder and a possible semifinal meeting with his employee Hight.

And that was it for qualifying and our report, as our photographer was unable to attend Sunday's eliminations. Next stop for him is the Good Vibrations March Meet next weekend. Stay tuned for that report.