NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Schedule set for Winternationals conclusion, Mission Challenge in Phoenix

The NHRA has announced details for the racing action at the NHRA Arizona Nationals on April 5-7 at Firebird Motorsports Park, including the final rounds of the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, as well as the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.
25 Mar 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
John Force

The NHRA has announced details for the racing action at the 39th NHRA Arizona Nationals on April 5-7 at Firebird Motorsports Park, including the final rounds of the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, as well as the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

In what promises to be an epic weekend with two race finishes and a specialty event in Phoenix, fans can expect nonstop action during the return to Firebird Motorsports Park. The opening round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge will take place during Friday’s qualifying session that begins at 4 p.m. PT. The finals of the bonus event follows during the second round of qualifying at 11:30 a.m. PT on Saturday.

That sets up a marquee finish to the day on Saturday, with the final rounds in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock for the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals taking place as part of final qualifying, which begins at 2 p.m. The final rounds from Pomona, which were postponed on Sunday due to inclement weather, will be the final pair in each category.

It adds up to an incredible, can’t-miss weekend at the “Duel in the Desert” in Phoenix, with final eliminations of the NHRA Arizona Nationals to follow at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday, April 7. Television coverage includes action on FS1 at 9:30 p.m. ET. on Friday and then a special NHRA in 30: Pomona Finals show at 9:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Sunday coverage includes qualifying at 10:30 a.m. and eliminations at 6:30 p.m. ET.

A handful of drivers will also have the opportunity to win three times in one weekend, including Top Fuel standout Justin Ashley. He accomplished that feat last year in Bristol, winning the delayed NHRA New England Nationals and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, and taking the victory the next day at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

To do that in Phoenix, he’ll have to get past the winningest driver in Top Fuel history, Tony Schumacher, who advanced to his first final round of the year in Pomona. That makes for an epic Winternationals final round in Phoenix, with Ashley also looking for his third straight victory at the historic race. The young standout is also the defending event winner of the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
In Funny Car, the final run of the day on Saturday in Phoenix will be a spectacular one, as the legendary John Force will face off with reigning world champion Matt Hagan with a victory at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals on the line. Force, a 16-time world champion and the winningest driver in NHRA history, will aim for his first victory since 2022, while Hagan is after a repeat Winternationals triumph and his 50th career win.

The Pro Stock final round from Pomona includes defending and six-time world champion Erica Enders, who will try for back-to-back wins to open her 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season. The winningest female in motorsports can also pick up her 50th career national event victory with a win in Phoenix on Saturday. She takes on Dallas Glenn, who qualified No. 1 and is also the defending Winternationals winner.

The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge features a wealth of intriguing matchups, too, as a full slate of stars look to win the bonus event that provides a bonus purse and bonus championship points, bringing competitive racing to both Friday and Saturday qualifying in Phoenix. In Top Fuel, Ashley will take on two-time world champion Brittany Force, while Schumacher will meet up with Billy Torrence.

In Funny Car, Force and Ron Capps will continue their storied rivalry in the opening round, while Hagan takes on Gainesville winner J.R. Todd. Enders and longtime rival Greg Anderson meet in one of the Pro Stock matchups, while the other pairing in the opening round of the specialty race features Glenn and Mason McGaha.

Ashley (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock) all won in Phoenix in 2023. The NHRA Arizona Nationals also includes thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, featuring the top racers in the country. It also marks the debut of the NHRA Pro Mod category in Phoenix. There will also be exciting performances from Team “Muy Caliente” and Curt White "Iceman" Jet Cars. 

All weekend long, fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage is the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music, and much more. Race fans at Firebird Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremony that introduces and celebrates each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan-favorite SealMaster NHRA Track Walk. 
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Phoenix. This opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting and interactive atmosphere. 

To purchase tickets to the final NHRA Arizona Nationals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general-admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket.