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Five things we learned at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas

The first of two straight four-wide events on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series calendar raced into our hearts at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the usual twists and turns that only a four-wide race can provide. Here’s our five top takeaways from the event.
15 Apr 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Five things we learned

The first of two straight four-wide events on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series calendar raced into our hearts at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the usual twists and turns that only a four-wide race can provide. Here’s our five top takeaways from the event.


For the last several years, Funny Car fans have watched Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, and Ron Capps wage a three-way duel for control of the class, but suddenly the hottest rivalry in the sport is Bob Tasca III vs. Austin Prock.

Prock has been the hottest property in Funny Car this season after taking over for medically-sidelined Hight, notching a runner-up in Gainesville and a win in Phoenix and has been the low qualifier at three of the season’s first four events and won Saturday’s Mission #2fast2tasty NHRA Challenge, all under the tuning masterY of his father, Jimmy.

Tasca, who always seems championship-capable but hasn’t made it there yet, has the fastest car in the class by far and can also rip off low e.t. on occasion.

In Las Vegas qualifying, Tasca’s Aaron Brooks- and Todd Okuhara-tuned BG Products Ford was the quickest car in Q1 and Q2 with Prock right behind him in the Cornwell Tools Chevy. In Q2, Prock took away Tasca’s lead for a moment with a 3.947 but right behind him, Tasca took it back with a 3.931.

Early in Q3, Tasca ran 3.939, but Prock finished the session with a 3.904 to take the No. 1 spot away. Tasca went 3.964 in Q4, but Prock again one-upped him with a 3.915.

In eliminations, both won their first-round quads, and then Prock beat Tasca in their semifinal quad, but both advanced to the final, where Tasca turned the tables this time with a triple-holeshot win, with Prock finishing second by milliseconds.

"We've been slugging it out since Gainesville, as far as low e.t. and top speed, back and forth,” said Tasca. “Absolutely. It's a rivalry that is built on the ultimate respect, and I can't really emphasize that enough. When you look at John Force and the respect I have for him and then Jimmy Prock, and the respect he has from Todd and Aaron, is really unmeasurable. Prock's the new guy, but he's been driving race cars forever, and he can drive, period, so, yeah, it's fun, and we'll make each other better. There's no question about it. When you trade blows like that, you both get better."

“It was almost a perfect weekend,” Prock said. “We got the No. 1 qualifier, won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty deal, and runner-upped. Tasca made a great run, great job by that team. We knew they were going to be tough this year, but I think everybody in these pits knows we’re going to be tough this year, as well.”


After two years of waiting and exhibition passes, the first official Holley EFI Factory X event took place this weekend, the first of eight events that will help crown a world champion in the exciting new class.

Perfectly positioned between Pro Stock and the Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown cars, Factory X cars weigh about 2,600 pounds and are powered by the same supercharged small-block engines that are used in the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown, and are rowed downtrack by the drivers via a five-speed manual transmission and 10.5-inch wide rear tire.

It seems only appropriate that Greg Stanfield, who had the first Factory X car to officially hit the track last year in Norwalk, walked away the big winner at the inaugural event and won the final with low e.t. of the meet, 7.12.

A full eight-car field was there, with five Chevy Camaros (Stanfield, son Aaron, Rick Hord,  Jesse Alexandra, and Jim Cowan), a Ford Mustang (Stephen Bell), and former Pro Stock/Top Fue/Funny Car driver Alex Laughlin in Geoff Turk’s Blackbird Dodge Challenger, who overcame some of those early gremlins to lock down the runner-up spot behind Stanfield.

While there were some teething pains with some cars getting finished just days before the event, they all performed well, and the fans loved the across-the-starting-line burnouts. Bigger fields are expected throughout the season as more cars are completed, and e.t.s will be in the sixes at more than 200 mph, but the debut was a major hit.


Tony Stewart, who won his first NHRA national event a year ago in Top Alcohol Dragster, nearly duplicated the feat this year in Top Fuel, reaching the final quad. Although he had to settle for fourth place, his back-to-back semifinal finishes in Phoenix and Vegas show he’s ready to win.

Shawn Reed, who made his return to Top Fuel this season after a four-year layoff, looks right at home in his Rob Wendland-tuned entry, and the popular Washingtonian seems poised to reach a winner’s circle, too. Reed’s best finish was a runner-up at the 2018 NHRA Gatornationals.

Jerry Tucker, part of the Elite Pro Stock squad, continued his upward trajectory in Vegas, where he claimed his first No. 1 qualifier in the Outlaw Mile Hi Beer Camaro and reached the final quad, where he finished second behind Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Although David Cuadra was the first of the Mexican family’s four drivers to reach a winner’s circle, doing so in Top Sportsman last fall in Charlotte, all three of the siblings — which includes his twin, Cristian, and older brother Fernando Sr. — all look on the verge of a first Pro Stock win. Cristian, the first of the family to get a No. 1 qualifying spot (Phoenix 2023), was runner-up earlier this year in Gainesville behind Erica Enders, while Fernando Jr. runner-upped in Indy last year behind Matt Hartford.

Also impressing us lately has been newcomer Brandon Foster, who overcame a shaky Gainesville debut to become a Pro Stock player. He has won at least one round at three of the first four events and was with Tucker in the final quad in Las Vegas.


In addition to the aforementioned Tucker and Foster, several other drivers took advantage of the four-wide rule that advances the top two finishers in each quad to the next round and to the general confusion that can sometimes prevail when we stage them four-wide. 

Eric Latino was the surprise winner of his first-round Pro Stock quad, but Foster finished second and got to the next round. Foster finished second behind Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the semi's but also moved on instead of loading his machine into the trailer. Foster also finished second behind Tucker in the semi’s to reach the final.

In the nitro classes, Jason Rupert, whose Black Plague Mustang ran four straight 4.0-second passes in Funny Car qualifying, laid down another one in round one, where his 4.05 finished second ahead of former world champs John Force and Cruz Pedregon.

In Top Fuel, Terry Totten (pictured) no doubt impressed new sponsors at Alff Construction by making it to the semifinals in front of eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Shawn Reed, his steady 3.91 getting him there after the other duo ran into traction woes. Totten also pulled off this feat at the 2019 four-wides. As they say in roundy-round cars, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” It usually doesn’t work that way in two-wide racing, but can when we go four-wide.


Not that we had very many doubts after she took over the saddle of the Beta Motorcycles Camaro from her three-time world champion father Doug Gordon, but Maddi Gordon is proving us right.

Unfortunately for the third-generation Top Alcohol Funny Car driver, she’s been on the losing end of three too-close-to-call rounds in her first three events, none more frustrating than losing the four-wide final here to her father’s longtime rival, Sean Bellemeur, by the eyelash-width margin of .0008-second.

She lost the final round of her debut event at the Division 7 race at Firebird Motorsports Park by just .007-second to Brian Hough and the first round of the NHRA Winternationals by just .003-second to Hunter Jones. That’s three losses by a combined margin of a hundredth of a second.

Three-time world champ Bellemeur was effusive in her praise for Gordon.

 “I said it over the winter, just because Doug stepped out of that car it doesn’t mean it will stop winning,” he said. “Maddi is doing a phenomenal job behind the wheel. She will be in the winner’s circle soon.”

Couldn’t agree more.