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NHRA Drag Racers Thrive In Cool Las Vegas Weather
11-1 Salinas
Capturing the top qualifying spot at Las Vegas, Mike Salinas marched his way to the final round in the Top Fuel category and ultimately got the win, his second of the season. Photo By Mike Burghardt

Mike Salinas, Robert Hight, Erica Enders and Gaige Herrera were winners at the NHRA Nevada Nationals as they chase category season titles, with one event left.

In Top Fuel, Mike Salinas, who became the first ever and only driver to exceed 300 mph by the one-eighth mile point, captured the number one qualifying spot and marched his way into the final round. On his final qualifying effort, Salinas garnered a 3.680 at 331.77 mph to hold off Steve Torrence’s 3.683 at 331.69 mph effort. With optimal weather conditions, five drivers scored elapse times in 3.66 to 3.69 range during the event. Salinas utilized 3.695 at 334.15 mph, 3.688 at 334.48 mph, 3.663 at 333.82 mph and 3.673 at333.16 mph performances to take out Rob Passey, Tony Schumacher, Josh Hart and Justin Ashley to claim his second win of the season, placing him 76 points behind the leader (Steve Torrence) with one event remaining.

In Funny Car, Robert Hight has been up and down this season, as lack of consistency held him and his team back. But, for Hight, the NHRA Nevada Nationals provided his team and crew chief Jimmy Prock the weather conditions they thrive in and they took advantage. Hight captured the pole qualifying spot with a 3.851 at 327.51 mph, when Bob Tasca III’s 3.842 at 337.74 mph qualifying run was thrown out due to a technical inspection violation (exhaust header width outside the tolerances). Hight came into the event trailing the point leader Matt Hagan by 69 points and leaves, trailing Hagan by 17 points and Tasca by just two points. Hight utilized 3.816 at 332.67 mph (low elapse time of the event), 3.859 at 333.99 mph and 3.868 at 330.55 mph performances to get by Jeff Diehl, Alexis DeJoria and Blake Alexander to advance to the final round against Bob Tasca III. Tasca took out Steven Densham (in a pedal fest, as both cars lost traction), Cruz Pedregon (who broke on the burnout) and (point leader) Matt Hagan in a close 3.886 at 332.84 mph to 3.901 at 328.38 mph battle in his march to the final round. In the final, Tasca left first (0.040 to 0.063) but his car then shook, losing traction and he could only watch as Hight thundered to a 3.851 at 326.79 mph to 4.235 at 268.78 mph victory. The win was his fourth of the season and the 65th of Hight’s career.

In Pro Stock, the big story was the battle between two five-time Pro Stock season champions, Erica Enders and Greg Anderson. To add to that was the fact that four drivers (Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Dallas Glen and Matt Hartford) were all in contention for the 2023 Season Championship. Another unique story was the return of retired thee time Pro Stock Champion, Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Coughlin was driving a car that looked nearly identical to Ender’s car, because it was built to be her 2024 car. Coughlin was testing it to prepare it for the next season. Not a bad test either as Coughlin made it all the way to the semifinal round, before losing to Enders. But the final round matchup between Enders and Anderson was the highlight. Enders scored her first career Pro Stock victory against Anderson in 2012, becoming the first woman capture a Pro Stock event title, and they have been rivals ever since. In the final Enders left first (0.012 to 0.024) and drove away to a 6.557 at 208.23 mph to (tire shaking) 23.892 at 36.48 mph victory. With the win Ender’s heads to the final event of the season with a 114-point lead over Greg Anderson. Both are seeking their sixth Pro Season Championship.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the 2023 class dominance of Vance and Hines Mission Foods Suzuki racer, Gaige Herrera continued. He was the number one qualifier with a 6.760 at 199.82 mph effort. This was 0.07-seconds quicker than the number two qualifier, Eddie Krawiec, his teammate. And, he never looked back laying down consistent low elapse times of each round to rocket into the final round, where he squared off against his teammate Krawiec, who was seeking his 50th career win. But, once again Herrera defeated Krawiec for event win, 6.755 at 198.32 mph to 6.847 at 198.70 mph. With this win, Herrera goes into the final event of the season in Pomona, CA., with a 181-point lead with only 191 points left to be claimed.

The In and Out Burger NHRA Finals at the famed In and Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona will conclude the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season in mid-November.

11-1 Herrera
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category saw Gaige Herrera score his tenth victory of the season at Las Vegas. He ran low elapse time every round and defeated his teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final. Photo By Mike Burghardt