NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


NHRA Arizona Nationals Sunday News and Notes

News, notes, quotes, photos, and video from final eliminations day at the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
27 Feb 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Race coverage



Teammates Brittany Force and Austin Prock faced off for the second straight weekend, this time in round one instead of the semifinals, and Force got her revenge with a stout  3.671 at 333.49 mph, which is the new top speed of the meet and tied Mike Salinas for low e.t. of the round.

Prock had owned a 4-1 advantage over his teammate but “destroyed pretty much every component on the race car” on a last-ditch 3.739 pass Saturday night, then smoked the tires a few hundred feet out.


Justin Ashley’s hopes of repeating his Winternationals triumph ended early against Tony Schumacher in a wild race.

Ashley left first put had to pedal the throttle as he began to lose traction while Schumacher’s car launched into a mini wheelstand at 300 feet then began to drop cylinders. Ashley’s car also dropped a cylinder and Schumacher held onto the lead even as his engine began to eat itself up and finally expired in a ball of fire.

"That pedal job was a great learning experience for me," said Ashley. "I felt it shake the tires and I was able to get back on it. I looked over to the left hand lane and saw Tony out in front of me and I was just about to lift. I noticed he started mixing up cylinders and I said to myself, ‘Let’s just stay on it and see if we can catch him.’ We just ran out of real estate. Every experience is valuable and that was one of them.”


Rob Passey collected his first career round win in Top Fuel, upsetting low qualifier Doug Kalitta, who smoked the tires. Passey’s Seven-23 Enterprises dragster, which is being tuned by Arizona legend Johnny West at this event, got the win with a 4.31 to collect his first win light in 17 first-round encounters.

“You have to plan on them making mistakes because we’re just out here making laps, not trying to set low e.t. and having a little fun,” admitted West.

Passey will take on Josh Hart in round two. Hart will have lane choice after a 3.705 pass that scored him a holeshot win over Leah Pruett's 3.699, her best pass of the event.


The wacky first round continued when Tripp Tatum, who had blazed his way to a pair of 3.6-second passes in qualifying and was the heavy favorite against Clay Millican, had his parachute fall out of the pack mere feet into his pass, allowing Millican, who’s had a star-crossed event during qualifying, to take the win.


Pomona Funny Car winner Robert Hight’s first-round 3.864 conquest of tire-smoking Paul Lee was his team’s sixth 3.8-second pass in seven runs this season. Other than a 5.97 pass in Q2 in Pomona, Hight’s team has run 3.882, 3.861, 3.838, 3.848, 3.839, and 3.864, certainly showing that he has a championship-caliber car again.

“It’s all about being consistent,” said Hight. “That’s how you win races and how you win championships. Right now, after these two weekends so far, we have the best of both worlds, quick and consistent. It’s a dream come true to drive a car like this. It’s been a while.”


Eight of the top nine points leaders in Funny Car advanced to the second round, the lone exception being J.R. Todd, who was in sixth and lost to fifth-place Alexis DeJoria in what was the first head-to-head battle between the drivers of the new Toyota GR Supra-bodied cars.

Todd left first by more than four hundredths of a second, but the DHL entry shook the tires, allowing DeJoria’s Bandero Tequila hot rod to race by for a 3.94 to 4.30 victory.


Pro Stock rookie Camrie Caruso notched her first career round win in her second start, defeating Cristian Cuadra in round one with a 6.538.

Caruso is just the third female to get a round win in Pro Stock. Lucinda McFarlin was the first way back in 1992 and Erica Enders was the second, in Reading in her rookie season in 2005.


While the majority of his fellow Pro Stock racers improved run every run, Greg Anderson trended downward in qualifying, from an opening lap of 6.541 to runs of 6.562 and 6.549, and the reigning world champ sure didn’t expect to run 33.78 in round one, and he sure didn’t expect that a double-digit e.t. would win the first round – but it did.

KB Racing teammate Dallas Glenn ran 6.545 in the other lane, but left .015-second too soon, fouling out, while Anderson’s car only went a few feet under power, then coasted to the finish line the winner.


Aaron Stanfield, No. 2 in qualifying and runner-up at the Winternationals and No. 2 in qualifying in Phoenix is No. 1 in one category, pounding out low e.t. of the meet, a sizzling 6.503, the best Pro Stock run in more than a year, since Greg Anderson ran 6.502 at the St. Louis event in 2020.


Clay Millican had a rough event in qualifying, losing a run to an electrical gremlin in Q1 and smoking the tires in Q3, a lost run that probably cost him his spot in the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, but the wide-smiling Tennessean has had plenty to grin about on Sunday so far.

He upset No. 4 qualifier Tripp Tatum with a 3.76 in round one when the latter’s parachute fell out just off the launch then bested tire-smoking Tony Schumacher with a 3.752 that will give him semifinal lane choice against Josh Hart.

Millican entered the event outside the top 10 but he’s already boosted his position up to No. 9 and could make the top five with a final-round finish.


Anyone who thought that Mike Salinas’ 3.6-second cannon shots in Pomona might go away as new crew chief Rob Flynn puts his own stamp on the tune-up he inherited from Alan Johnson is realizing that’s not going to happen.

After a 3.678 shot in qualifying, Salinas’ Scrappers machine has posted runs of 3.671 and 3.692 on Sunday to advance to the semifinals, where he will have lane choice over world champ Steve Torrence, who scored a 3.710 to 3.709 holeshot win over Brittany Force.


Funny Car’s two winningest drivers, John Force and Ron Capps, squared off for the second time in this young season when they met in the second round. Capps, who beat Force in round one in Pomona, was late off the line with a .121 reaction time and took a holeshot win, 3.902 to 3.869, but numbers can be deceiving.

“You're racing the champ here, so I cheated all I could on the light,” said Force about deep-staging his Peak BlueDef machine.

Capps, conversely, was staging shallow.

“We were thinking about lane choice [for the semifinals] and staged shallow, but you can't win with a .121 light; that's terrible for me, especially on raceday," he lamented.

Force will take on his teammate, Robert Hight, in the semifinals after Hifht's deadly Auto Club Chevy blasted to another mid-3.8-second pass to defeat Bob Tasca III, earning him lane choice.

Low qualifier Matt Hagan ran 3.864 to beat Alexis DeJoria but will surrender lane choice to the very tough Tim Wilkerson, who pounded out a 3.856 to trailer Cruz Pedregon.


A holeshot also played a part in a big upset in Pro Stock, where Mason McGaha, fresh off of his beating his dad, Chris -- for the fifth time in six races -- in round one defeated points leader Erica Enders, 6.574 to 6.570. It was his first victory against her in five matchups.

"I'm just trying to do my thing; I don't want to go up there and think about it too much, because that's going to throw you off; you just need to make consistent runs," said McGaha, who was .016 in the Tree against his dad and .021 against Enders, who admitted that her concentration wasn't all there after having to swap engines between rounds.

"We hurt a motor first round and didn't even get to wash my hands or sit down or anything, and that definitely was not the tuneup we were hoping for," she said. "I haven't been stellar this weekend -- ,042. 042 .043 and was .044 there -- but the kid did a great job."

Enders' teammate, Aaron Stanfield, runner-up behind her at the Winternationals, advanced to the final four with a narrow .0070-second victory over world champ Greg Anderson and his 6.534 will give him lane choice over McGaha.

On the other half of the ladder, Kyle Koretsky will get lane choice over Troy Coughlin Jr. by .003-second after respective second-round winning runs of 6.555 and 6.558.


Steve Huff made another strong pass in his electric dragster, charging to a speed of 196.79 mph in 7.50 seconds, his fourth pass in a series of electric-vehicle exhibitions this year sponsored by Pep Boys.


Clay Millican will face Mike Salinas in the final round of Top Fuel and will have lane choice based on his superior speed after both ran 3.693. Millican’s 330.15 speed earned him the pick of lanes over Salinas’ 322.19. Both drivers will be gunning for their fourth career win.

Millican, runner-up twice last year, will be shooting for his first victory since the 2018 Chicago event and his first since being reunited with crew chief Mike Kloeber after beating Josh Hart.

Salinas will be gunning for his first win since last year’s fall Bristol event in his 10th final-round appearance. Salinas beat tire-smoking Steve Torrence, ending the Texas family’s reign of terror at the event, with Steve winning in 2020 and 2018 and his father, Billy, winning in 2019. (The race was not contested here in 2021.)

“I’m not for certain [what happened], but we don't typically smoke the tires on a hit like that," said Torrence, "so I'm sure that we might have had something malfunction. The track has been spectacular all day and you've seen it, you've seen it in the numbers." 


Robert Hight continued his string of mid-3.8-second times with a 3.847 to beat his boss, John Force, who shook the tires and had to pedal his mount. The win extends Hight's season skein to seven straight rounds winning including his Winternationals triumph last weekend.

Hight will have lane choice over Matt Hagan, who ran 3.875 to defeat Tim Wilkerson's 3.857 on a holeshot and earn Tony Stewart Racing its first final-round berth in just its second event,


Troy Coughlin Jr. will get another chance at a first career win in Pro Stock after defeating low qualifier Kyle Koretsky on a 6.575 to 6.561 holeshot. Coughlin has two Pro Stock runner-ups to his credit and eight Sportsman-class victories.

Coughlin’s final-round opponent will be Winternationals runner-up Aaron Stanfield, making it another all-Elite Performance money round. Erica Enders beat Stanfield in the Pomona final but Stanfield will get another shot after beating Mason McGaha, whose car broke just off the line after a terrific .001 reaction time.


Robert Hight, Mike Salinas, Aaron Stanfield take NHRA Arizona Nationals wins


Super Stock -- Ryan McClanahan, Chevy Cobalt, 21.649, 46.98 def. Larry McLanahan, Ford Mustang, Broke - No Show. 

Stock Eliminator -- Leo Glasbrenner, Chevy Camaro, 9.414, 136.28 def. Jeff Jerome, Plymouth Savoy, 10.164, 130.24. 

Super Comp -- Dan Foley, Dragster, 8.901, 174.44 def. James Glenn, Dragster, 8.905, 175.09. 

Super Gas -- Mark Yeager, Chevy Corvette, 9.905, 169.53 def. Mike Boehner, Chevy Camaro, 9.924, 151.17. 

Super Street -- Matthew Bong, Ford Mustang, 10.901, 136.65 def. Troy Grant, Chevy Nova, 10.882, 141.62. 

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Art Hoover, Dragster, 6.428, 207.30 def. Rodger Comstock, Dragster, 7.187, 185.97. 

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Don Meziere, Chevy Cobalt, 6.909, 162.14 def. Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, Broke.