Exciting Top Fuel rematches set for Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Phoenix
The matchups for the Top Fuel segment of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge will rematch the semifinalists from the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals — winner Mike Salinas vs. Leah Pruett and eventual runner-up Steve Torrence against Doug Kalitta — during qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge brings competitive racing to the qualifying schedule at 12 regular-season events during the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series campaign, pitting semifinalists from the previous race against each other in a pair of rematches, with the two winners then matching up in the final qualifying session with an additional purse and bonus points for the Countdown to the Championship on the line.
In Gainesville, Pruett got a slight jump on Salinas at the start of their semifinal clash, but her Tony Stewart Racing Dodge Power Brokers car spun the tires downtrack and slowed to a 4.37 against his 3.72.
“We ran 24 test passes this winter and took a hybrid of all of our test runs to come into [the Gatornationals],” said Pruett. "There wasn’t one run of the 24 that we thought was the perfect setting. The TSR crew did a great job putting a setup together for our car. The track was very unique this weekend. Because we were able to go through those types of challenges in testing, that really helped us this weekend."
Salinas, who won last year’s NHRA Arizona Nationals, is ready for the challenge in their rematch, which will come in Friday’s second qualifying session at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
“We're gonna have fun,” he said. “We won in Phoenix last year, and our car runs good there. If the driver comes to work, I think we're going to have a great year because we haven't stopped thinking about this stuff. All my guys eat, sleep, and drink this stuff.”
Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster also lost traction in his semifinal race with Torrence, his coming just off the starting line against the four-time world champ.
“Going through the day, it kinda seemed like the Mac Tools team was in its groove, but obviously smoking the tires was not what we were looking for,” said Kalitta. “It was just one of those deals. We know what was going on with it. We just need to get one more round further and give ourselves a shot to win one of these things. We are happy with the car's performance.”
Torrence, coming off one of his least productive seasons in the last five years, is supercharged by his runner-up in Gainesville and ready to take on Kalitta again, which will be the third time this year as he also called out — and beat — Kalitta in the first round of the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout, which took place on Saturday of the Gatornationals.
“We finally got our consistency back,” Torrence said. “When you make big changes like we did last year, there always are issues you don’t anticipate. It takes time, but these guys never lost focus. They kept after it, and we’re obviously headed in the right direction now.
“Give Mike [Salinas] and those guys all the credit because they had a great weekend, too, but after how our car ran, I can’t wait to get to Phoenix.”