Fernando Cuadra Sr. entered the second day of qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals on the bump spot of the 19-car Pro Stock field. That likely won't concern the team owner much. His group is fielding three Pro Stock cars, two Ford Mustangs and his Chevy Camaro, as it works toward creating a competitive program.
Cuadra raced out of K.B. Racing in 2019, his first year back in Pro Stock after a multi-year absence. He leased a K.B. Racing engine for his own Chevy Camaro while slowly bringing two of his sons into the Pro Stock fold. That alliance with K.B. Racing dissolved over the offseason and Cuadra created his own team, relying primarily on Nick Ferri powerplants.
He doesn't show any bitterness over the departure from K.B. Racing and instead treats the three-car team with the same enthusiasm that's become something of a hallmark of the Mexican businessman. Cuadra delights in the small details that he hopes become trademarks of his success.
Cuadra walks around his pit, pointing out new gears, shocks and computers. He's not convinced these parts and pieces will bring immediate success, but he's willing to try new things to get there.
He's put in an order for a new Mustang from Jerry Haas which he expects to arrive during the summer, at which point a new engine will be installed and his on-track performance will improve. The team is running an old powerplant in the meantime, but is still experimenting; Cuadra ran a new intake manifold during the first qualifying session.
All the aggression and new thinking in the world won't immediately rotate the Earth in one of the most competitive racing series on the planet. Cuadra is one of the first to note this, but he also knows he can't beat the competition by mimicking them.
The three Cuadra cars are qualified 14, 15 and 16 with two qualifying sessions to go, weather permitting. There's still a long way for the team to go, but Cuadra is building a solid foundation while bringing a new style of thinking to one of NHRA's premier categories.