Fernando Cuadra missed the Countdown to the Championship in Pro Stock by less than a round and for that, the rest of the class should be thankful since the Mexican businessman is doing some damage in the first event of the NHRA playoffs. Cuadra, who returned to the sport last year after more than a decade on the sidelines, entered the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals winless on the season, but he’s having a career day with a round one win over Kenny Delco and a stunning upset win over Erica Enders in the quarterfinals. Cuadra entered the Reading race with two round wins in 55-career races,
Cuadra opened with a round one win over Kenny Delco, and then shocked the Reading crowd when he put the nose of his Corral Boots Camaro in front of Enders to reach his first semifinal. In a 6.578 to 6.581 decision, Cuadra won by just a thousandth of a second, and did not realize he’d won, even after being told by the top end crew.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d be here [in the semi’s],” said Cuadra. “I truly didn’t’ believe that I won. It was too close to see. I said [to the NHRA shut-down are officials] ‘Don’t kid me.’ This is so much to believe. Let me tell you I have a lot of respect for all these guys out here. I do this for my sons because they’ve worked hard to put our [program] together.”
Cuadra punched his ticket to the final round after Jeg Coughlin Jr. red-lighted by just two-thousandths in the semifinal round. Coughlin entered the Countdown as the No. 8 seed. In the other half of the semi's, Matt Hartford's run ended against Jason Line.
Enders came into final eliminations riding a string of two-straight final rounds in Brainerd and Indy. The two-time champion was also the low qualifier in Reading with a 6.480, one of the quickest runs of the fuel injection era in Pro Stock. Enders came into the Countdown as the No. 5 seed and moved past Greg Anderson after his untimely round one exit.