Story By: NHRA – TOPEKA, KS – Top Fuel points leader Justin Ashley continued his impressive 2023 season, defeating defending world champion Brittany Force in the final round and picking up his sixth win of the year on Sunday at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park.
Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also won at the 13th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
In the championship round, Ashley went 3.702-seconds at 323.58 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota dragster to slip past Force’s 3.707 at 323.58 in the final NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series national event at Heartland Motorsports Park. After battling through several weather delays, the final round finished up under the lights as Ashley earned his 11th career win.
Ashley knocked off Josh Hart, Leah Pruett and Antron Brown to reach the final round before turning in the quickest run of the weekend to continue his dream season. He also stretched his lead to 83 points over Steve Torrence.
“We have a lot of history as a team here. Jim Epler was the first Funny Car driver to go 300 mph and he did it right here in Topeka and my father won Funny Car here in 2007. This is the first race that him and I have won professionally at the same venue,” Ashley said. “It’s really exciting and each one is more special than the next. We had four incredible turnarounds today and the team did a good job. Their ability to maintain composure and consistency on and off the racetrack is really second-to-none.
“It was tough to stay focused today. We really didn’t know what today was going to bring but every driver and team were under the same circumstance. We didn’t know if we were going to get a race in, let alone four rounds today, was probably the biggest challenge of all. But you have a lot of confidence as a driver when you have a team like the Phillips Connect team.”
Force, who stayed third in points, reached her first final round of the season, knocking off Shawn Langdon, Torrence and Clay Millican. It is also her 36th career final round.
In Funny Car, Bob Tasca III continued to impress at Heartland Motorsports Park, earning his second straight victory at the facility by taking down points leader Matt Hagan in the final round with a run of 3.885 at 332.26 in his 11,000-horsepower BG3 Ford Mustang. Tasca delivered the quickest run of the Funny Car weekend under the lights against Hagan, moving to fifth in points while also picking up his second victory in what has been a standout 2023 season.
To reach the finals, Tasca got past Blake Alexander, Alexis DeJoria and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight, posting an identical reaction time and E.T. with Hagan to set up the thrilling final round. Tasca quickly chased down Hagan, making the only Funny Car run in the 3.80s this weekend to clinch his 14th career win.
“It was a hard-fought day and I give all the credit to the guys. Every time we warmed up the car, there was something wrong,” Tasca said. “They just fought through it. The car shut off in the first round, second round, third round, we were struggling with putting cylinders out and having the safety box shut the car off. That run was a monster run (in the finals).
“That’s what’s different about this team from any team I’ve been on. I’ve never had the car that could just step up. This team, led by Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara, it’s a different attitude than any I’ve been around. We’re one of the quickest qualifying cars year-to-date, hot tracks, cold tracks, anything in between we can go up there and run low E.T. It was a big time run, a statement run for this team. Going into Brainerd and Indy, we’re in the top five. If you have that leaving Indy, you have a really good chance to win the championship. This car can go to any race and win, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that before.”
Hagan stretched his lead to 61 points over defending world champ Ron Capps, beating Alex Laughlin, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd to reach the final round for the sixth time this season and 85th time in his career.
Defending Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders seemingly got better with each run this weekend in Topeka, finishing off her weekend with an impressive run of 6.617 at 206.13 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance Chevrolet Camaro to defeat longtime rival Greg Anderson in the final round. Enders earned her second victory this season and 45th in her career, beating a strong list of contenders to reach the final round. She knocked off Chris McGaha and teammate Aaron Stanfield to open the day before facing off with points leader Dallas Glenn, who won against Enders a day earlier in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.
This time, though, Enders won on a holeshot, using a .009 reaction time to slip past the points leader. That set up her 10th career final round matchup against Anderson, leading from start-to-finish in a race featuring a pair of five-time world champions. She moved to fifth in points, making a big step toward another title run.
“Today was just a great day,” Enders said. “Coming in, we felt like we struggled – yeah, we were No. 4 qualifier, but my car wasn’t running as great as some of my teammates, and we certainly weren’t running as good as the other guys. We knew we had our work cut out for us today. Looked up the ladder first thing this morning and it was stout. It was pretty cool that I had to battle everybody from a different team this time except for Aaron.
“I’m fortunate to have such a great team that when everybody was eliminated everybody was all-hands on deck for the quick turnaround. Like always, when my guys’ backs are against the wall, they perform the best. You give Mark Ingersoll a couple opportunities, and he’ll get better. That’s exactly what we did today. We improved on every round. I’m just really grateful he’s in my corner and I’m glad to have the guys I have that have my back.”
Anderson reached the final round for the first time in 2023 and 173rd time in his career after defeating David Cuadra, defending event winner Troy Coughlin Jr. and Deric Kramer. Glenn’s lead now stands at 228 points over Matt Hartford.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action Aug. 17-20 with the 41st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 34th annual Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park. The race is the 13th of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
1. Justin Ashley; 2. Brittany Force; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Leah Pruett; 7. Scott Palmer; 8. Austin Prock; 9. Shawn Langdon; 10. Buddy Hull; 11. Lex Joon; 12. Tony Schumacher; 13. Doug Kalitta; 14. Mike Salinas; 15. Josh Hart; 16. Terry Totten.
1. Bob Tasca III; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. J.R. Todd; 4. Robert Hight; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Alexis DeJoria; 7. Paul Lee; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Chad Green; 10. Jack Wyatt; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. Alex Laughlin; 13. John Force; 14. Blake Alexander; 15. Dave Richards; 16. Cruz Pedregon.
1. Erica Enders; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Dallas Glenn; 4. Deric Kramer; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 6. Camrie Caruso; 7. Aaron Stanfield; 8. Matt Hartford; 9. Cristian Cuadra; 10. Kyle Koretsky; 11. Jerry Tucker; 12. Bo Butner; 13. Chris McGaha; 14. David Cuadra; 15. Fernando Cuadra; 16. Fernando Cuadra Jr..
TOPEKA, Kan. — Sunday’s final results from the 34th annual Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park. The race is the 13th of 21 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Justin Ashley, 3.702 seconds, 323.58 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.707 seconds, 322.88 mph.
Funny Car — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.885, 332.26 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.965, 329.18.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.617, 206.13 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 198.41.
Top Alcohol Dragster — Hunter Green, 5.198, 277.43 def. Shane Conway, 5.281, 265.80.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.533, 264.44 def. Ulf Leanders, Camaro, 5.564, 261.93.
Competition Eliminator — Clark Smiley, Pontiac GXP, 7.270, 187.89 def. Doug Engels, Dragster, 7.428, 178.64.
Super Stock — Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., Pontiac Firebird, 9.803, 125.73 def. Ryan Montford, Chevy Camaro, 9.091, 142.94.
Stock Eliminator — Mike Cotten, Plymouth Duster, 11.056, 119.25 def. Parker Devore, Plymouth Volare, Foul – Red Light.
Super Comp — Mark Grame, Dragster, 8.893, 178.02 def. Matt Driskell, Dragster, 8.887, 175.87.
Super Gas — Rodger Sauder, Plymouth Barracuda, 9.898, 149.48 def. Austin Williams, Chevy Camaro, 9.884, 156.19.
Top Sportsman — Darian Boesch, ChevyCamaro, 6.275, 216.31 def. Jimmy Lewis, Pontiac GXP, 6.464, 208.68.
Top Dragster — Blake Peavler, Dragster, 6.618, 157.25 def. Holden Laris, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Final round-by-round results from the 34th annual Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park, the 13th of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE — Brittany Force, 3.787, 321.50 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.853, 314.53; Justin Ashley, 3.753, 329.26 def. Josh Hart, 5.259, 134.35; Clay Millican, 3.762, 320.74 def. Buddy Hull, 3.941, 288.39; Leah Pruett, 3.821, 324.05 def. Lex Joon, 3.986, 304.87; Austin Prock, 4.260, 291.82 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.465, 242.15; Steve Torrence, 3.786, 328.22 def. Terry Totten, Broke; Scott Palmer, 3.922, 313.73 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.123, 246.08; Antron Brown, 3.810, 326.79 def. Mike Salinas, 4.874, 147.99;
QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.811, 326.56 def. Prock, 4.008, 244.12; Force, 3.781, 321.04 def. Torrence, 3.766, 327.82; Millican, 3.810, 321.58 def. Palmer, 3.943, 288.95; Ashley, 3.755, 327.35 def. Pruett, 3.794, 325.92;
SEMIFINALS — Force, 3.717, 329.91 def. Millican, 3.762, 326.00; Ashley, 3.726, 326.87 def. Brown, 3.711, 325.92;
FINAL — Ashley, 3.702, 323.58 def. Force, 3.707, 322.88.
ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.987, 318.77 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.593, 203.65; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.053, 277.03 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 5.463, 139.80; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.967, 322.19 def. Jack Wyatt, Dodge Charger, 4.555, 199.58; Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.337, 272.17 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 5.828, 119.72; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.039, 283.85 def. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 4.705, 260.01; Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 4.029, 306.19 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.867, 159.66; J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.963, 321.65 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.119, 310.41; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.054, 313.15 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 6.414, 114.56;
QUARTERFINALS — Hagan, 3.987, 317.64 def. Wilkerson, 3.988, 322.88; Tasca III, 4.025, 303.03 def. DeJoria, 4.046, 317.57; Hight, 3.956, 318.09 def. Lee, 4.244, 236.26; Todd, 3.960, 324.36 def. Capps, 4.977, 158.95;
SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 3.933, 329.34 def. Todd, 3.945, 323.12; Tasca III, 3.933, 305.63 def. Hight, 3.969, 320.58;
FINAL — Tasca III, 3.885, 332.26 def. Hagan, 3.965, 329.18.
ROUND ONE — Camrie Caruso, Chevy Camaro, 6.700, 205.91 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.709, 205.69; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.661, 206.57 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.665, 204.94 def. Jerry Tucker, Camaro, 6.691, 206.29; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.652, 206.39 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.687, 204.08; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.649, 205.57 def. David Cuadra, Mustang, 6.723, 205.26; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.672, 206.07 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.738, 205.32; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.649, 205.38 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.737, 204.45; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.660, 205.91 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.709, 205.63; QUARTERFINALS — Kramer, 6.654, 205.07 def. Hartford, Foul – Red Light; Enders, 6.655, 206.83 def. Stanfield, 6.664, 206.16; Glenn, 6.650, 205.22 def. Caruso, 6.650, 205.72; Anderson, 6.640, 206.01 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.647, 206.48;
SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.637, 206.54 def. Glenn, 6.629, 204.94; Anderson, 6.613, 204.57 def. Kramer, 6.630, 205.76;
FINAL — Enders, 6.617, 206.13 def. Anderson, 6.636, 198.41.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Point standings (top 10) following the 34th annual Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park, the 13th of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –
1. Justin Ashley, 1,052; 2. Steve Torrence, 969; 3. Brittany Force, 829; 4. Antron Brown, 793; 5. Leah Pruett, 777; 6. Austin Prock, 766; 7. Doug Kalitta, 710; 8. Mike Salinas, 688; 9. Josh Hart, 683; 10. Clay Millican, 680.
1. Matt Hagan, 1,013; 2. Ron Capps, 952; 3. Robert Hight, 839; 4. Chad Green, 828; 5. Bob Tasca III, 815; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 807; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 763; 8. J.R. Todd, 751; 9. John Force, 673; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 572.
1. Dallas Glenn, 914; 2. Matt Hartford, 686; 3. Troy Coughlin Jr., 680; 4. Deric Kramer, 658; 5. Erica Enders, 634; 6. Greg Anderson, 603; 7. Aaron Stanfield, 586; 8. Camrie Caruso, 545; 9. Cristian Cuadra, 469; 10. Kyle Koretsky, 458.