Stage Is Set For Final NHRA Arizona Nationals At Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Story By: NHRA – PHOENIX, AZ – The last “Duel in the Desert” is set for Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, as the final NHRA Arizona Nationals will take place on March 24-26 at the facility just outside of Phoenix.
The 38th and final NHRA Arizona Nationals marks the second race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, bringing plenty of excitement and anticipation to the facility. Massive crowds are expected all weekend, as race fans will look to celebrate nearly four decades of history in Phoenix with plenty of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action to close out racing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
The final NHRA Arizona Nationals will also include the first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, a special program that will take place on Saturday and offer bonus money and bonus points. It will feature the rematch of the semifinalists at the season-opening Gatornationals, with the winners meeting up in the finals. All the action will take place during qualifying on Saturday, adding another memorable incentive to the last NHRA appearance in Phoenix.
Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) all won last year in Phoenix. This year’s race will again be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), as all the top stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will look to pick up the final win in Phoenix and grab an early-season victory.
Salinas made a strong statement early last year, grabbing the first of his career-best four victories in 2022. He held the points lead for a stretch in the regular season, but eventually succumbed to Brittany Force’s stellar and record-breaking 2022 campaign. She won her second world title on the strength of five wins and will look for early momentum against a loaded lineup that also includes Steve Torrence, Justin Ashley, Josh Hart, veteran Doug Kalitta, Leah Pruett, Antron Brown, Austin Prock, Tony Schumacher and Clay Millican.
Hight enjoyed a two-race winning streak to open last year, and he’s after another Phoenix triumph in Funny Car. But it won’t be easy against the likes of Ron Capps, who has won back-to-back world titles, three-time Phoenix winner Matt Hagan, 16-time world champ John Force, J.R. Todd, Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson, Alexis DeJoria, class newcomer Alex Laughlin and Cruz Pedregon.
In Pro Stock, Stanfield will try to replicate his victory from last season and close out Phoenix in style. Standing in his way will be teammate Erica Enders, who won 10 races last year and rolled to her fifth Pro Stock world title. Others to watch include five-time world champ Greg Anderson, NHRA Rookie of the Year Camrie Caruso, Kyle Koretsky, Troy Coughlin Jr., Dallas Glenn, Bo Butner and Phoenix-area native Matt Hartford.
The NHRA Arizona Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, featuring some of the top racers in the country. A big tire/small tire shootout will take place during the weekend, while fans can also look forward to exciting performances from the Little Red Fire Truck driven by Mike Mantell following nitro qualifying on Friday and the Hemi Under Glass wheelstander on Saturday. The Team “Muy Caliente” and “Wicked Sinsation” Jet Cars will also make exhibition runs, along with a fuel altered exhibition on Saturday. An autograph session will take place on Saturday at the Toyota Display with Toyota-sponsored drivers, as will a special autograph session featuring participants in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.
Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more.
Race fans at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners of the last appearance in Phoenix.
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 atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 5 p.m. PT on Friday, March 24, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 25 at 12 and 3 p.m. The finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge take place at the end of final qualifying in each category. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. PT on Sunday, March 25. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 9:30 p.m. ET. on Friday and 12 p.m. on Sunday, leading into eliminations at 7 p.m. ET.
RIGHT TRAILERS TO SPONSOR NHRA JUNIOR DRAG RACING LEAGUE EASTERN AND WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
For the second straight year, Right Trailers will be the title sponsor of the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Western Conference Finals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver and the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals at Bristol Dragway.
The pair of events are two major highlights of the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League, a popular racing league for kids ages 5-17, which celebrates its 31st season in 2023. Both events draw hundreds of young drivers during the marquee weekend, helping further growth in the class and propel aspiring drivers in the sport.
“For us at Right Trailers, these two races are an important part of the sport,” Right Trailers President Michael Scott said. “We want to see that next generation succeed and the Eastern Conference Finals and Western Conference Finals gives all these young drivers a chance to be showcased. This was such a great opportunity for us last year and we’re excited to return as a sponsor and see all these young drivers in action.
The Right Trailers NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Western Conference Finals take place June 22-25 at Bandimere Speedway, one of the track’s major events during its 65th anniversary season. The track, which has been a favorite for race teams and fans for more than six decades, has been a longtime home for the event, where hundreds of young racers will try to pick up a win and a prestigious Wally trophy.
“The 2023 season marks our 65th anniversary here on the mountain and it all started with John Sr’s love for kids,” said Sporty Bandimere, general manager at Bandimere Speedway. “Today’s youth are still at the core of everything we do and hosting the Western Conference Finals is an honor and a privilege. Watching these young men and women develop skills and relationships that will last for years to come is most rewarding as these events are the springboard to the future.”
The following month, the Right Trailers NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Finals will take place on July 10-15 at picturesque Bristol Dragway, continuing a tradition that dates back to 2004. Like the race in Denver, this Eastern Conference Finals gives young racers an incredible opportunity to compete at a top facility and compete for a victory on the national stage.
“Bristol Dragway is honored to once again be the home for the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Finals and we are so proud of our longtime association with this amazing event,” said Jerry Caldwell, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway. “It’s an event that truly showcases the bright future of the sport of NHRA Championship Drag Racing. During the weeklong event, the kids learn the importance of hard work, teamwork, and sportsmanship while pursuing their racing dreams. We can’t wait for these young drivers to return to Thunder Valley for another fun week of racing.”
NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League competitor’s race cars, called Jr. Dragsters, are half-scale versions of the iconic Top Fuel dragsters. They go as fast as 85 mph and as quick as 7.90 seconds in the eighth-mile using a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, though younger age groups are restricted to slower times and speeds.
Right Trailers has become an industry leader since starting in 2004, growing to four locations with an inventory of more than 1,000 trailers and more than 10,000 trailer parts.
“The NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League plays a huge part for the future of our sport, and we’re thrilled to have Right Trailers continue as the title sponsor for these two huge events,” NHRA Vice President and Chief Development Officer Brad Gerber said. “These young racers will have a great opportunity to perform on a big stage at the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, and it is exciting to see the continued growth and interest of so many young drag racers.”
Since its start in 1992, the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League has provided a place for young racers to compete and been the start for many top NHRA professional drivers. The list includes world champions like Pro Stock’s Erica Enders and Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon, who won a JDRL national championship in 1997, as well standouts such as Top Fuel’s Leah Pruett; Funny Car driver J.R. Todd; Pro Stock competitors Deric Kramer, Chris McGaha and Vincent Nobile; Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Cory Reed and many more.