Round Three: Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge

When the NHRA announced that 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series was headed back to Chicago and Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, Mission Foods jumped on board to host both Nitro classes and Pro Stock Motorcycle for the third round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

This is first time since the 2019 pandemic that the fan-favorite drag racing facility has hosted a National Hot Rod Association event and fans were eager to enjoy the intensity of the 11,000 horsepower nitro-powered engines with record breaking performances at over 330 mph.

This all new form of grudge match racing has quickly become a popular specialty race on the NHRA schedule. Just take the world’s fastest drivers and teams (who may or may not like each other) and give them another chance to settle any matters that they may be unhappy about from a previous NHRA race weekend. Yep, that’s how redemption works.

A Mission #2FAST2TASTY NHRA Challenge is held during Saturday’s final qualifying round at the first twelve two-wide NHRA national events. To sweeten the pot, challenge winners pick up a $10,000 purse and three bonus points that are added to the driver’s points for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.


Justin Ashley Is Two-Time Winner in Mission Challenge

In the opening round of the Top Fuel Mission #2FAST2TASTY NHRA Challenge, Justin Ashley (winner of Round Two of the Challenge at the Winternationals) relied on his reaction time with .033 RT against Antron Brown’s quicker 3.736 elapsed time for a one-hundredths of a second holeshot win.

Austin Prock the Top Fuel winner of the Circle K Four-Wide Nationals faced off against teammate Brittany Force as a redemption race after he had defeated her a few weeks back in Pomona. Unfortunately for Force, it was the first time in nine previous Mission Challenge grudge matches that results were not reversed.

As a rematch of the Winternationals final, Ashley maintained his victory streak with a 3.728 ET at 331.12 mph in his Phillips Connect dragster win over Prock and the Montana Brands Top Fuel ride with a losing 3.742 elapsed time at 325.37 mph. Ashley became the first repeat winner in the Mission NHRA Challenge inaugural season.


Ron Capps Wins Mission Challenge at Route 66

Terry Haddock surprised racing fans when he defeated the Winternationals Funny Car champ Matt Hagan in the opening round. But, it was a race Haddock almost missed. The team found and replaced a broken motor mount in staging in time for him to take advantage of Hagan’s tire spin at mid-track.

Round two was a redemption race between the two semifinalist at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip for the Winternationals. Ron Capps squared off against Bob Tasca III. Like almost everyone in the pits, both drivers struggled to make a clean pass down the track; Capps won when Tasca’s Ford Mustang broke loose sooner in the run.

When Capps crawled behind the wheel of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota GR Supra for Round One, he hadn’t completed a clean run down the Route 66 Raceway track. But, a 3.941-seconds elapsed time at 328.30 mph was enough to defeat Haddock, who suffered a mechanical failure at the tree and was unable to make a pass in the final.


Gaige Herrera Wins PSM Mission Challenge

In the first-ever matchup for Pro Stock Motorcycle, Gainesville runner-up Angie Smith took on Suzuki-mounted Chase Van Sant. At the Gatornationals, Smith won her semifinal matchup with Van Sant but redemption was had when Van Sant posted a 6.807 ET to Smith’s 6.832 elapsed time.

Round two of the Mission Challenge pitted Gatornationals winner Gaige Herrera on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki against Jianna Evaristo who impressed fans at Gainesville Raceway with an early round win over Matt Smith. Herrera posted a 6.677 ET for the third quickest pass in class history to defeat Evaristo.

With $10,000 and three Countdown bonus points on the line, Gaige Herrera became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle winner a Mission #2FAST2TASTY NHRA Challenge events with his victory over Van Sant. Herrera’s hopes for great season are alive and well having won the first two PSM races of 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA

UP COMING:

NHRA New England Nationals

The 2023 event in Epping, New Hampshire on June 2-4 will feature racing action from the #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge in the nitro classes on Saturday.

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