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Kalitta, Tasca And Cuadra Are Number 1 Qualifiers For The NHRA Arizona Nationals At Wild Horse Pass

From Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor / nhra.com


Cristian Cuadra made NHRA history as the first Mexican-born racer to qualify in the No. 1 position in the Professional classes as he will lead the Pro Stock field into battle Sunday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) also led their fields at the close of qualifying.


Cristian Cuadra made NHRA history as the first Mexican-born racer to qualify in the No. 1 position in the Professional classes as he will lead the Pro Stock field into battle Sunday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) also led their fields at the close of qualifying.



Cuadra, also just the 11th non-American to qualify No. 1 in more nearly 70 years of NHRA national event competition, held onto the top spot with his 6.552 pass from Friday. Cuadra also ran 6.563 and 6.584 to show that his Corral Boots Mustang is a threat for the win on Sunday.


"I'm really, really proud," said Cuadra. “We're making history. That's why we are here because we wanted to make history for our country. It's hard for a Mexican to come here and race just because the economy is different, but we have really good drivers in Mexico. and I learned I learned how to race there. My first year I won the Super Street championship, but it means a lot for me to be the first Mexican to qualify No. 1 in NHRA. I'm really happy and proud of my team.


“It feels very, really special for me. Of course, it's nervous when the No. 1 is underneath us. Everybody's watching us. because we're No. 1, so it's a weird feeling for me.”


With the exception of reigning world champ Erica Enders clawing her way into the top eight with a 6.566 for No. 6, the top eight from Friday stayed intact with Kyle Koretsky (6.554), Dallas Glenn (6.556), defending event champ Aaron Stanfield (6.557), local hero Matt Hartford (6.558), and Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and Gatornationals winner Troy Coughlin Jr. (6.567) holding down the first of the quick eight.


Ironically, Cuadra’s father, Fernando Cuadra Sr., was on the opposite end of the performance spectrum from his son, failing to qualify.for the 6.644 bump.


As it was in Pro Stock, so it was in Top Fuel as Friday leader Kalitta held onto the pole position with his Friday pass of 3.679. His run was never really challenged as no one got within seven-hundredths of him and he capped the day with his win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge.


"We're definitely looking forward to tomorrow,’ said Kalitta, who snagged his 52nd career pole. “We had a good qualifying run Friday night in the great conditions and we won’t see those same conditions out there tomorrow out here but so it's gonna be a dogfight like it always is.


“Alan [Johnson, tuner] and all these guys on this Mac Tools/Toyota, we're looking forward to get after it and see if we can get a double up.”



Mission Challenge runner-up Mike Salinas remained No. 2 with his Friday 3.689 and Austin Prock stayed third with his 3.696. Leah Pruett made the biggest leap with the best run of the day, a 3.721 that carried her Dodge Power Brokers entry to the No. 4 spot.


Brittany Force (3.722), Steve Torrence (3.724), Justin Ashley (3.724), and Shawn Langdon (3.729) round out the quick eight with Sunday lane choice.


Tasca’s last-dash 3.89 on what was a tricky track all weekend for Funny Cars put him into the No. 1 spot in Funny Car, robbing Friday leader Blake Alexander of what would have been his first No. 1 spot.


"Hats off to Todd [Okuhara] and Aaron [Brooks] and the whole team,” he said. “They're very different than anyone I've ever raced with, and you saw all of the cars struggling, and they don't care what anyone else runs. They just focus on what they believe we can run. The track clearly is not as good as it was in Gainesville [where Tasca was the Friday leader]; there are some bumps just at the transition and they make it even more challenging to get it down this racetrack.



"Literally when you hit that transition point, that thing starts to move around and you're just steering it to the finish line because once it upsets itself, it doesn't just go back to perfect. It's upset, it's moving around, the weight's shifted, and as a driver, you're just trying to maintain car control. I actually didn't enjoy that run until the chute came out and the car started coasting.”


Only five teams were able to run in the three-second zone in qualifying (compared to 12 in Gainesville) with Mission Challenge winner Alexis DeJoria’s 3.914 also moving past Alexander’s Friday-leading 3.927.


Gainesville winner and points leader Matt Hagan (3.934), Chad Green (3.952), world champ Ron Capps (4.028), Terry Haddock (4.044), and John Force (4.057) round out the top eight.


The NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park continues with eliminations Sunday at 11 a.m. Television coverage of the event will continue on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with a second qualifying show Sunday at noon ET. Eliminations will air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.


See the full story at nhra.com:



See Saturday's phot gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:



Photo's: NHRA / National Dragster



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