Round Seven: Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge

In 2023, the semifinalists in Pro nitro and Pro stock classes have the opportunity to compete in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge. In conjunction with the renowned Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, fans were treated to thrilling side-by-side racing.

Thanks to Mission Foods, the proud sponsor of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, Saturday's final qualifying round is filled with fierce competition. Only the top four competitors in the Nitro and Pro Stock classes from the previous NHRA National events qualify for this thrilling race.

The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge will be featured at 12 regular-season two-wide races. The popular event made its debut at the Arizona Nationals and has since captivated fans at all two-wide NHRA Nationals. The recent race at the Mile-High Nationals was sold out in advance and marked the 8 of 12 scheduled events for 2023.

Not only do the Mission Challenge drivers have the chance to earn valuable bonus points for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, but they also get a shot at the impressive half million-dollar purse up for grabs throughout the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The Challenge concludes when the Countdown begins


Ashley Remains Perfect in Top Fuel Challenge

Justin Ashley entered the Mission #2Fast2Tasty at Bandimere having claimed victory at all four rounds of the NHRA Challenge that he competed in this year. He entered the semi round with an all-time 5 to 2 record over Brittany Force. Force left the line with misfiring cylinders in a lost to Ashley’s 3.989 ET at 307.02 mph to advance to his fifth consecutive final round.

Leah Pruett is 2 to 1 in heads up matches with Austin Prock in 2023 but Prock entered the Challenge with 8 wins to 5 losses to Pruett all time. With both drivers trying to catch Clay Millican in the final round of Saturday qualifying, Prock got the holeshot with a .065-second reaction time to Pruett’s .081 RT. Pruett was out of the throttle early allowing Prock to advance with 4.287 ET.

Before the Top Fuel final for the Mission Challenge, Justin Ashley and Austin Prock could only watch as Brittany Force broke the existing track record at Bandimere by seven miles per hour with a final qualifying run of 333.73 mph. In the Mission final, Ashley would pick up his fifth win of season in the specialty race by beating Prock off the tree as well as across the board on times.


Hagan Wins His First Funny Car Mission Event

Ron Capps was making his fifth appearance in the NHRA Challenge against Bob Tasca III who entered Saturday’s Mission event having won earlier this season at Thunder Valley in Bristol. Capp holds a 30 to 21 lead over Tasca for all-time wins. Tasca III posted a 4.117 elapsed time with a cylinder misfiring but Capps went up in smoke and driver of the Motorcraft Ford Mustang advanced to the final.

Hagan has already won three times this year in the NHRA Camping World Series. His first challenger was JR Todd who was the Mission #2Fast2Tasty runner-up at the first round in Phoenix. Hagan entered held a 14 to 5 advantage in wins over Todd. The DHL Supra of Todd grabbed the holeshot with .066 RT but Todd was out of the throttle early and Hagan survived raw fuel out the exhaust for the win.

Matt Hagan and Bob Tasca III rolled into stagging with near perfect conditions on Thunder Mountain with both drivers swinging for fences in the final round of Saturday’s qualifying. Hagan nailed the start with .055 reaction time to Tasca’s .082 RT but neither driver (or race team) got what they were looking for as Tasca had tire shake early and Hagan coasted to his first Mission Challenge win.


Coughlin Jr. Claims Second Win in Pro Stock

Dallas Glenn was making his third appearance and Phoenix winner of the NHRA Challenge Troy Coughlin Jr. had qualified for his second Mission #2Fast2Tasty event. Glenn and Coughlin Jr are 1 and 1 in head-to-head matchups in 2023. Coughlin Jr. relied on .020 reaction time in the semifinal round for a holeshot win over a quicker Glenn and advanced to the final in Pro Stock.

Norwalk Pro Stock winner Matt Hartford, who won the Mission Challenge at Pomona, entered the semifinal match against seven-time winner Aaron Stanfield, who claimed victory in the Challenge at Bristol. Hartford enters the event with a 9 to 4 career advantage in wins. But Stanfield nailed a perfect tree with a .000-second reaction time to advance over Hartford who posted the quicker 6.961 ET.

The Pro Stock final of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge pitted teammates Aaron Stanfield and Troy Coughlin Jr. driving the cars called Mayo and Mustard, respectively. In fact, Stanfield was actually running one of Coughlin’s engines in the Janac Brothers car. But, it didn’t matter. Stanfield turned the tree red and Coughlin Jr. nailed a perfect .000 RT for his second Mission win.


Matt Smith Wins in Pro Stock Motorcycle

Hector Arana Jr. was making his third appearance but seeking his first win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge and was coming off a NHRA Camping World win at Norwalk. Seven-time PSM champion Matt Smith is making his first appearance in the Challenge. After breaking Smith’s track record earlier, Arana Jr. left the tree early and allowed Smith to advance to his first ever Mission final.

Jianna Evaristo comes into her second appearance in Mission Challenge as does her round one opponent Steve Johnson. Johnson hold an all-time 4 to 1 record in wins over Evaristo, who is riding well this season but lost to Johnson three weeks ago. Jianna grabbed the early advantage with .005 RT but Steve Johnson had a much quicker bike with a 7.249 ET and the win light.

Matt Smith entered the final round in Pro Stock Motorcycle hoping to do what his wife Angie had already accomplished this season, which is to claim victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge. Johnson grabbed a slight advantage at the start but the high-winding Suzuki of Matt Smith pulled ahead at the line to give the DENSO rider his first career win in the NHRA Challenge.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


UP COMING:

Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals

The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge will continue the Western Swing as part of Saturday qualifying at the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals on July 22 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. It will be the first time riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete at the scenic drag strip nestled in the shadows of Mount Rainier.

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