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Rain Showers Cannot Dampen The Arizona Nationals Spirit
Action in the Funny Car category at Phoenix saw Tommy Johnson taking the event title by defeating a tire smoking Jack Beckman with a 3.883 at 326.40 mph in the final round. Photo By Mike Burghardt

The NHRA Arizona Nationals featured weather conditions that kept the famed NHRA Safety Safari group on its toes. Friday featured cool overcast skies, with threat of rain, leading into downpours on Saturday. With the weather conditions, the NHRA had to make serious scheduling changes in order to complete the event. By Sunday, the skies were clear and conditions warmer. Throughout these changes the NHRA crew was able to maintain the best possible track conditions, resulting in exceptional performances.

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force led all qualifiers with a strong 3.670 at 327.11 mph. She later set top speed at 331.12 mph. She definitely had the car to beat. But, one had to realize that the 2018 and 2019 champion Steve Torrence was making his return. Torrence qualified second with a 3.671 at 326.48 mph and was on a mission. In the opening round, Force had the fans on their feet, as she took out Terry Totten with a 3.43 at 337.92 mph, which would hold as top speed and low elapse time of the event. Unfortunately, her day would come to an end at the hands of Winter Nationals winner, Doug Kalitta. He left first and held on for a holeshot 3.695 at 325.49 mph to 3.685 at 334.15 mph win. Kalitta would continue his winning ways into the final round. Steve Torrence marched into the final round, getting by James Maroney, Shawn Langdon and then his dad, Billy Torrence. The CAPCO team would not disappoint the fans as they battled to 3.698 at 329.58 mph to 3.699 at 329.91 mph win for Steve Torrence to square off against his nemesis, Doug Kalitta. In the final round both divers left together (0.066 to 0.066), but Torrence took the win 3.679 at 321.27 to 4.052 at 218.90 mph, when Kalitta lost traction.

Funny Car saw Matt Hagan take the top qualifying spot with a 3.859 at 331.1 mph. He was followed closely by John Force and Robert Hight. In the opening round, Force set low elapse time and top speed of the event (for Funny Car) with a 3848 at 335.90 mph thrashing of Terry Haddock. Matt Hagan would soon follow with a 3.83 elapse time, but was disqualified when he crossed the center line. Force would see his day come to an end in the semifinal round as Jack Beckman took him out with a 3.882 at 329.919 mph to 3.917 at 326.63 mph. Beckman would face off against teammate, Tommy Johnson in the final round. Both cars are funded by Doug Chandler, whose late wife (Terry Chandler) utilized the race cars to increase awareness to the two charitable organizations (Infinite Heroes and Make-A-Wish foundations). Johnson’s car now is decorated in the MD Anderson Cancer Center color scheme. Johnson would take the event title by defeating a tire smoking Beckman with a 3.883 at 326.40 mph. Hight was upset in the opening round by Jim Campbell, when his car lost traction.

Pro Stock saw the 2019 season champion, Erica Enders marching to the final round, taking out Fernando Cuadra Jr, Chris McGaha and Jason Line with a string of 6.53 second elapse times. In the final, Enders would meet up with Bo Butner. Butner’s path was not as dominating as hers. He blew his engine in the opening round, but won when his opponent fouled out. In the second round, he won when his opponent, once again, fouled out. In the semifinal round, his opponent (Alex Laughlin) broke. In the final round Butner was no match for Enders, as she won going away with a 6.531 at 210.44 mph to 6.606 at 209.33 mph.

The 2019 season champion, Erica Enders, rolled past the entire Pro Stock field in Phoenix and took down Bo Butner in the finals to grab the NHRA trophy over the weekend. Photo By Mike Burghardt