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Texas NHRA FallNationals Sunday preview

Winning championships is all about adapting to ever-changing conditions, and whichever drivers walk out of Texas Motorplex after today with victories at the Texas NHRA FallNationals will have proved that as Sunday will present yet another weather challenge.
16 Oct 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Race coverage
Texas NHRA FallNationals

Winning championships is all about adapting to ever-changing conditions, and whichever drivers walk out of Texas Motorplex after today with victories at the Texas NHRA FallNationals will have proved that as Sunday will present yet another weather challenge.

After a mild Friday and a hot Saturday, Sunday is shaping up to be a cool day with a persistent threat of rain, meaning that crew chiefs may have to rethink and reconfigure their hot rods not just from what they learned in qualifying but as track and weather conditions evolve Sunday,

Top Fuel low qualifier Austin Prock seems to be in a good place as his Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster went down the track on all four qualifying runs but seemed better suited to the kind of cooler conditions that raceday will bring rather than the heat of Saturday, where the car was middle of the pack.

His biggest threat may well come from his teammate, Brittany Force, whose crafty crew chief Dave Grubnic can throw down some big numbers when the conditions turn fast. Force also made it down the track on all four passes over two days.

Prock will start raceday against No. 16 qualifier Alex Laughlin.

Incoming points leader Justin Ashley will look to recoup from a lackluster qualifying effort that left them without first-round lane choice. After a disastrous outing last weekend in St. Louis, they need a get-better day right now.

Funny Car’s top seed is Matt Hagan, whose Dodge Power Brokers Charger was solid on all four runs, leading two of the sessions and finishing in the top three of all of them. Points leader Robert Hight only made it down on two of the four, though that’s certainly doesn’t take into account whatever the team may have been experimenting with after qualifying solidly on the opening day.

Hagan and the rest of the contenders – including reigning world champ Ron Capps, who won here last year -- will hope for an early exit for Hight and a long day for themselves if they want to chew into his lead.

Hagan will open against Texan Terry Haddock, who had a spotty qualifying effort but has shown he’s capable of a big upset.

Erica Enders was untouchable in Pro Stock qualifying as her Melling/Elite Camaro was the quickest car in all four qualifying sessions as she continues her Countdown rampage.

Her biggest threats will come from inside her own camp as Elite had the top four cars, with Aaron Stanfield, Cristian Cuadra, and Troy Coughlin Jr. lining up behind her. Enders cannot clinch the championship here, but a long day will go a long ways towards her perhaps locking up her fifth title at the next event, the penultimate race of the season in Las Vegas.

Enders will open her Sunday account facing off another Elite driver, Fernando Cuadra Jr.

Angelle Sampey bookended her qualifying efforts with the best run of the first and final qualifying sessions, assuring everyone that her resurgent Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki is a potent weapon.

Points leader Matt Smith was right there, going low in the two sessions she didn’t and finishing second behind in the sessions where she was quickest.

Sampey will take on “Flyin’ Ryan” Oehler in round one while Smith will square off against national record holder Karen Stoffer.