The National Hot Rod Association roared into the desert just outside Phoenix, Arizona for its annual stop at Wild Horse Pass Motor sports park and the home of the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.
Tony Schumacher and the US Army team were Army strong during Sunday’s elimination rounds, conquering the top fuel dragster class by eliminating Jenna Haddock and her Patriot Grading & Engineering team in the opening round with a stellar performance of a 3.725 at 325 mph. In the second round he mowed down teammate Spencer Massey and his Red Fuel/Sandvick team with a 3.768 at 320 mph to a tire smoking 5.726 at 116 mph. In the semi-final round he would take on teammate Antron Brown and the Macto tools dragster. Brown left the starting line first (0.060 to 0.069) and was out front until about the 700ft mark, when Schumacher drove around him for a 3.738 at 325 mph to a 3.753 at 319 mph win. This would set up a final round between Schumacher and Doug Kalitta.
Kalitta and the Mac tools team ran through Clay Millican in his Great Clips/Parts Plus team dragster in round one with a 3.762 at 328 mph, then took out Brittany Force in round two with a 3.770 at 326 mph, and Shawn Langdon in the semifinal round, who was coming off a win at the season opener. Both cars lost traction as they thundered down the 1000ft racetrack with Kalitta coming out on top with a 4.303 at 242 mph to a 4.75 at 278 mph. Kalitta and Schumacher have raced 14 times in final rounds with Schumacher having the better record 10-4. Kalitta had a slight advantage off the starting line but Schumacher made that up within 100ft and went on to capture his 78th career victory with a 3.720 at 326 mph to a 3.758 at 325 mph.
In Funny Car Matt Hagan looked more like Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky in his Don Schumacher racing Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Dodge as he muscled over his competition with performance punches in each round of elimination. He opened up his barrage of runs with his slowest pass of the day a 4.072 at 314 mph to take out Jeff Diehl in round one. In round two he hit a little harder with a 4.058 at 316 mph took knock out Cruz Pedregon and the Snap on tools team. In the semifinal round he would match up with Kalitta motorsports driver Alexis Dejoria and the Tequila Patron team, but she too would be knocked out by a blistering 4.027 at 316 mph, setting up a final round matchup between Hagan and Del Worsham.
Worsham and his Kalitta motor sports DHL Toyota team was more consistent and a little quicker than Hagan in the opening rounds running a 4.037 at 317 in round one, a 4.047 at 316 mph in the second round, and a 4.010 at 315 mph to take out Robert Hight’s AAA Camaro in the semi-finals. In the final round, Hagan came out swinging for the fence, putting up a 3.975 at 324 mph (a new track elapse time record) to Worsham’s 4.010 at 318 mph, earning a final round knockout and his second win in two races of the 2015 season.
In the Pro Stock category Roger Brogdon was the quickest car in eliminations. He put up winning runs of 6.570 at 211 mph, a 6.569 at 211 mph and a 6.554 at 211 mph. Brogdon would face the 2014 season champion, Erica Enders Stevens in the final round. Enders-Stevens put up winning runs of 6.575 at 211 mph, a 6.570 at 210 mph and a 6.575 at 210 mph to earn her way to the final round.
In the final round Enders-Stevens left the starting line first with a .017 to a .050 rt but she would have an engine problem around half track and Brogdon went by her to capture his third career victory with a 6.560 at 211 to a 6.640 at 205 mph.
The next stop for the NHRA is March 12 through 15 in Gainesville, Florida.