Tasca, Ashley, Enders and Herrera Earn #2Fast2Tasty Wins At Saturday’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals Qualifying

Bob Tasca III

Justin Ashley powered his 11,000-horsepower dragster to his first #2Fast2Tasty win of the season during Saturday’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Powered by strong Friday night runs, Doug Kalitta, John Force and Greg Anderson join Gaige Herrera to earn No. 1 qualifier spots ahead of elimination Sunday at zMAX Dragway
Tickets for Sunday’s 44,000-horsepower showcase of speed are still available online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com
CONCORD, NC (April 27, 2024) – With more than just No. 1 qualifying spots on the line during Saturday’s action at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, drivers put on yet another record-breaking showcase of speed. New this season, the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge brought a race within a race to zMAX Dragway, as the top eight drivers from the 4-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas were pitted against each other with money, playoff points and bragging rights on the line.

When the final win lights were lit, Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) earned top honors in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. Using runs from Friday’s qualifying sessions, Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) join Herrera as No. 1 qualifiers looking ahead to elimination Sunday.

‘Pissed Off’ Tasca Lays Down Record Lap

After learning that his second-round qualifying pass had been disqualified by the NHRA for running an adjusted manifold, Tasca felt vindication when his Funny Car – complete with a manifold loaned by fellow racer Steve Torrence – ran a track-record 338.34 mph at 3.834 seconds in Saturday’s final qualifying session, earning the veteran racer the #2Fast2Tasty title.

“I was as pissed off as I’ve ever been in a race car today, and I just used that as energy,” Tasca said. “Mentally, that was my mindset. Truthfully, I wasn’t racing any of those racers up there. I was racing NHRA. I was racing for the reputation of my crew chiefs.”

The 18-time winner will look to carry Saturday’s momentum into race day on Sunday when he faces a stacked field of drivers hungry to turn on a win light of their own.

“This level of competition, it takes a perfect call from the crew chief,” Tasca said. “The crew has to do everything right; the driver has to be perfect to beat three other competitors at the highest level. It’s insane, honestly, to win one of these four-wides. It’s probably an easier race to get to the finals, but it is, without question, the most difficult race to win.”

Tasca, whose run propelled him from No. 16 to the No. 2 qualifier, will face Jim Campbell, Paul Lee and Daniel Wilkerson in the opening round of eliminations.

Ashley Outstanding in #2Fast2Tasty Final

Ashley’s 3.701-second pass at 334.32 mph was enough to hold off a #2Fast2Tasty field that included Antron Brown, Steve Torrence and Josh Hart.

“Yesterday, we fell behind a little bit,” Ashley said of Friday’s qualifying effort. “We wanted to run a little bit better, a little bit quicker. We wanted to come out here today and set a new tone for ourselves. Running that 70 was really important. It doesn’t matter whether it’s qualifying, whether it’s the Mission Foods Challenge, whether it’s race day, we want to win each and every lap down the track.”

Kalitta’s Friday night pass of 3.691 seconds held up on Saturday, relegating Ashley to the No. 3 qualifier position. He will face Tony Stewart, Dan Mercier and Doug Foley in the first round on Sunday.

Second Chance Lifts Enders to #2Fast2Tasty Win

Despite her elimination in the Pro Stock #2Fast2Tasty semi-finals, six-time World Champion Erica Enders was given a chance at redemption when she replaced Greg Anderson following his Q3 disqualification for a technical violation for bypassing a safety device.

“Never give us a second chance,” said Enders, whose 6.516-second 210-mph run secured her second #2Fast2Tasty Challenge win and subsequent bonus points of the season.

While the run earned her the #2Fast2Tasty title, Enders finished in the ninth qualifying spot overall and will face Anderson, Sienna Wildgust and Brandon Foster in the first round.

Fernando Cuadra Sr. failed to qualify for Sunday’s eliminations after announcing his retirement this week, missing the top 16 by just two-thousandths of a second.

Herrera Heats Up in Mission Foods Final

In the Pro-Stock Motorcycle category, reigning World Champion Gaige Herrera dethroned provisional No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith during the category’s final qualifying round, posting a 6.671-second run at 202 mph, simultaneously earning the zMAX Dragway elapsed-time track record and the top seed heading into Sunday.

“Yesterday, we had a malfunction on the first run that set us back, and then we ran 6.68 on the second and that was a good run,” Herrera said. “Today, I ran a 6.70 and then that 6.67 and that’s just our team learning how to fine-tune the new fuel. There was not much left on my bike. It went straight and required very little correction. Tomorrow will be a lot of fun.”

The NHRA 4-Wide Nationals builds to a thundering 44,000-horsepower crescendo on Sunday, with high-octane eliminations beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

TICKETS: Race fans in attendance will be treated to a series of special pre-race ceremonies including driver introductions and the fan-favorite SealMaster Track Walk beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Single-day tickets for Sunday’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals are still available online at charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

KEEP TRACK: Stay on pace with what’s happening at Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on X and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.

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John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2024, Issue 4, Posted 9:26 PM, 04.27.2024