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Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Sunday Preview

After two fascinating days of professional qualifying, the fields are set for today’s final eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.
20 Aug 2023
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

The final day of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals promises to be quite different from the first three as Satuday’s warm summer-like temperatures have been replaced by cool Fall air at Brainerd Int’l Raceway. The change in temperature, more than 20-degrees, figures to challenge the sport’s crew chiefs and at the same time, it helps afford maximum entertainment value to the many fans who have packed Brainerd this weekend. It is entirely possible to have a day of upsets as teams adapt to the changes.

To no one’s surprise, the Top Fuel field is led by championship leader Justin Ashley, who knocked Friday leader Doug Kalitta from the top spot with a 3.746 from his Phillips Connect dragster. Ashley, who has already won six events this season, is set to face Terry Totten in the opening round and the winner of that round will receive a bye run into the semifinals.

Kalitta, who continues to close in on his 50th career win, will start the day with a tough race against Clay Millican, who has already banked two wins this season in his Parts Plus dragster. Other pairs from the opening round will feature Brittany Force vs. Josh Hart, Leah Pruett vs. Tony Schumacher, Mike Salinas vs. Austin Prock, Steve Torrence vs. Klye Wurtzel, and Antron Brown vs. Shawn Langdon. Brown comes in on a high note after winning Saturday’s Misison Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge.

Ron Capps ran a 3.894 on Friday in his NAPA Toyota and that run held steady throughout Saturday’s two runs to give the reigning and three-time world champ the pole position. Capps will face off with Jim Campbell in the opening round of eliminations.

There have already been seven different winners in Funny Car this season so picking a favorite is far from easy. Capps has certainly earned that status and the same can be said for Sonoma winner J.R. Todd, who is the No. 2 qualifier with a 3.907. Todd is paired with Dale Creasy Jr. in round one. Other pairings include Alexis DeJoria vs. Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III vs. Blake Alexander, Cruz Pedregon vs. Alex Laughlin, John Force vs. Chad Green, Matt Hagan vs. Dave Richards, and Robert Hight vs. Bobby Bode. Hight has already earned a win this weekend in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge after defeating Hagan in the final round.

The entire Pro Stock field is separated by slightly more than a tenth of a second with Minnesota native Greg Anderson leading the pack at 6.597 in his HendrickCars.com Camaro. Anderson will not have a layup in the opening round as he’s paired with impressive rookie David Cuadra, who ran a best of 6.702. Matt Hartford is nipping at Anderson’s heels with a 6.598 in his GETTRX/Total Seal Camaro. Hartford will also have a tough draw as he’s paired against Fernando Cuadra Jr. in round one.

The rest of the Pro Stock pairings include Kyle Koretsky vs. Camrie Caruso, Cristian Cuadra vs. Chris McGaha, Deric Kramer vs. Troy Coughlin Jr., Aaron Stanfield vs. Bo Butner, Dallas Glenn vs. Jerry Tucker, and Mission Challenge winner Erica Enders vs. Mason McGaha.

The jam -acked schedule will also feature final eliminations in the Fuel Tech Pro Mod series presented by Type A Motorsports and the Lucas Oil Series sportsman categories.


Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Bob Tasca III, Funny Car (Pro Stock was not contested)


Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 11, FC; Bruce Allen, Jeg Coughlin, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, 4, Pro Stock


Top Fuel - 3.640 seconds by Leah Pruett, Aug. '17; 334.98 mph by Brittany Force, Aug. ‘21

Funny Car - 3.793 seconds by Robert Hight, Aug. '17; 338.00 mph by Hight, Aug. '17

Pro Stock - 6.541 seconds by Erica Enders, Aug. '15; 211.39 mph by Shane Gray, Aug. '15


Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona, Calif.

Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.

Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May '14, Englishtown, N.J.


SUNDAY, August 20

Pre-Race ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m.


SUNDAY, August 20, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 1:00 p.m. ET

SUNDAY, August 20, FOX TV will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:00 p.m. ET

Watch all day on NHRA.tv