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NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series – Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL

Photo Credit:

By Adam Carabine

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series kicked off their 2024 season with a bang in Gainesville, Florida this past weekend with all four professional touring classes in action.


Top Fuel Dragster


Steve Torrence looked strong early, earning the two fastest passes in Q1 and Q2.  However, not far behind him was Shawn Langdon who wound up earning the No. 1 Qualifier with a 3.682 in Q4. This was Langdon's first No. 1 Qualifier since 2020.


Steve Torrence was foiled by his father, Billy Torrence in the third elimination round.  Despite being charged with his second oildown of the young season, Billy made his way to the final round to face Shawn Langdon.


Langdon’s road to the final round was fairly smooth, as he beat Cody Krohn, Justin Ashley, Antron Brown, and eventually Billy Torrence all quite handily. 

Also of note, former IndyCar & NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart qualified for his first ever pro race in NHRA, he lost in the first round to Justin Ashley.


Funny Car


Austin Prock wasted no time showing he belongs in a Funny Car, with a solid showing on Sunday.  Prock was announced to be taking over Robert Hight’s ride, as Hight takes the year off for medical reasons. 


Austin Prock had the fastest et in the first two qualifying rounds (including beating a track record in Q2), and the second-fastest in Q3, earning him the No. 1 Qualifier.  Bob Tasca III was hot on his heels, and wound up qualifying second overall. 


In the elimination rounds, Prock’s closest call came against his boss John Force.  Austin was able to hold on to win by just 0.014 seconds. 


Tasca’s adversity came in the third round against eventual winner JR Todd.  While neither driver got the pass they wanted, Tasca had traction issues and Todd advanced to the final round against Austin Prock.


In the final round, while Prock looked to have the early lead, JR Todd put in his fastest pass of the day to earn his 10th Funny Car win, from the 6th qualifier position.


Pro Stock


It was the Erica Enders and Cristian Cuadra show in the Pro Stock division.  Enders earned the No. 1 Qualifier while making the fastest pass in Q2 and Q3.  Interestingly, Cuadra scored the exact same et in all three of his qualifying attempts, but it was just 0.003 seconds shy of earning the top spot.


Both drivers had solid elimination rounds up until the final, but it was Enders who reigned supreme, finally earning her first win in Gainesville.  Cristian Cuadra dealt with some bad tire shake and knew he was out of it from the starting line. 


Enders increased her head-to-head record against Cuadra, putting it now at 12-0.


Pro Stock Motorcycle


Gaige Herrera picked up right where he left off after winning the championship last year.  Matt Smith was his fiercest competition in the qualifying rounds, but Hererra still earned the fastest pass in all three. 


It was Herrera winning No. 1 Qualifier, and Smith right behind in spot No. 2. The two seemed destined to meet in the final round.


While it was closer than he would have liked, Herrera held on to beat Smith, padding his incredible final round stats.  Gaige Herrera is now 12 for 13 in final rounds.




The series returns in two weeks, as Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock head west for the Winternationals in Pomona, California.  The Pro Stock Motorcycles do not return until late April – Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, North Carolina.


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