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Down to the wire, Fernando Cuadra is counting points for the Countdown

A year after his return to the Pro Stock class, Fernando Cuadra Sr. is on the verge of qualifying for the Countdown to the Championship with his Corral Boots Camaro.
01 Sep 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

Fernando Cuadra Sr. entered the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in 11th place in the Mello Yello Pro Stock standings and through the first three rounds of qualifying, he’s been able to trim the deficit between himself and tenth-place Kenny Delco from three points to just one. Currently, Cuadra is the No. 8 qualifier while Delco is 15th. If Cuadra can pick up a spot or two with his Corral Boots Camaro, he could potentially take over the No. 10 spot heading into eliminations.

“I never in my life thought I’d be in this position but here I am,” said Cuadra. “I’ve got all the best stuff that KB Racing has to offer so I should be able to get it done. I’ve got the same power that [provisional low qualifier] Bo Butner has. I just haven’t done as good of a job of driving as Bo has done. I’m working on it but I cannot complain. I’ve been given everything I need to succeed. Now, it’s on me to make it happen. I’m big on responsibility. I try to teach that to my sons every day, so when I say that I am responsible for the success of the team, I mean it.”

Through the first 11 races of the season, Cuadra is still looking for his first round win of the season, but he’s clearly shown progress since returning from a 15-year layoff last season. That progress has been reflected in his qualifying results, which have steadily improved this year. He was No. 12 at the first three events in Pomona, Phoenix, and Gainesville, Cuadra has been a top-half qualifier in four of the last five. That might not sound like much, but in a class where most races are decided by a few thousandths of a second, that represents true progress.

“Hopefully today [Sunday] we can get a couple of runs in and hopefully move up a spot or two,” he said. “We were No. 3 in speed so once again, that shows you the power that the KB guys have given me. Bo and Jason [Line] and Greg [Anderson], and Deric Kramer have all won races using KB power. Of course, I want to be the next one to get a win.”

As much as he’s focused on getting himself into the Countdown, Cuadra, like any other proud parent, is more interested in the progress of his sons, Fernando Jr. and Cristian, who are joining him in the Pro Stock class. Fernando Jr. is currently 11th quickest with a 6.60 and Cristen, who made his debut four races ago in Denver, is the first alternate with his Mustang. Son, David raced in the Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs.com class, but missed the tough 32-car field.

“I could not be more proud of my sons,” said Cuadra. “I’ve taught them that as long as they’re willing to put in the work, we’ll race as a family. I want them to understand the value of a dollar and the effort it takes to race on this level. We don’t have a truck driver. My son drives the truck to and from the races. They’ve over there building transmissions and changing tires and doing all the things we need to do in order to be competitive. Fernando Jr. has already done a great job in Pro Stock. His lights are great and I’m learning from him. I hope we are all able to do this as a family for a long time.”