NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Langdon, Tasca, Enders, Herrera survive hot day to qualify No. 1 in Richmond

Top Fuel’s Shawn Langdon, Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) closed out qualifying with the quickest runs of the day on Saturday at Virginia Motorsports Park, taking the No. 1 spots at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals.
22 Jun 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Race coverage

Top Fuel’s Shawn Langdon closed out qualifying with the quickest run of the day on Saturday at Virginia Motorsports Park, taking the No. 1 spot at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals.

Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the ninth of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

On a day where the NHRA pro categories all made three qualifying runs on Saturday for the first time ever, Langdon went 3.872-seconds at 319.82 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Kalitta Air dragster in the final round of qualifying, giving the former world champion his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 21st in his standout career. The veteran is also looking for his first career win at Virginia Motorsports Park, opening eliminations against Lex Joon.

“In the first couple of runs, we just were off a little bit. You’re dealing with 150-degree track temperature, so it's just getting everything right,” Langdon said. “This track is so good and so smooth that, unfortunately, these hot conditions don’t do this track much justice for how good it really is. So we're tiptoeing down the track. It’s crazy how much we’ve got these things backed up and it's just a matter of getting everything in sync.”

Reigning world champ and points leader Doug Kalitta is qualified second with a 3.883 at 318.69 and Tony Stewart, who is in his debut season in the Top Fuel ranks, qualified third with a 3.885 at 317.79.

In Funny Car, Bob Tasca III made the most of the final qualifying session to finish off an impressive day, as Tasca’s 4.024 at 320.74 in his 11,000-horsepower Ford Performance Mustang Dark Horse gave the veteran his 17th career No. 1 qualifier and first this season. No Funny Car made a 3-second run in the heat, but Tasca put together three solid runs to give him confidence heading into raceday. He’ll face off with Dave Richards to open eliminations and is thrilled with the progress his team made this weekend.

“To bring home a win, you got to go down the racetrack, and if you don't get on the racetrack, you're going to lose. Anyone out here is going to beat you,” Tasca said. “You have to have good decision-making, but it makes it a whole lot easier to make those decisions when you have a day like you had today because we can fall back on a baseline. We look at tire temperature and wasn't on the edge. We can we push, but you have to pick your moments depending on who you're racing, You've got to go down the racetrack and Todd (Okuhara) and Aaron (Brooks) t know how to do that.

Chad Green qualified second with a 4.024 at 320.13 and points leader Austin Prock qualified third with a 4.027 at 318.84.

Looking for her 50th career national event victory, Pro Stock’s Erica Enders blistered the track on Saturday at Virginia Motorsports Park, taking the No. 1 spot with a standout run of 6.586 at 209.56 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment car. That took place during the opening session and nobody could top that throughout Saturday’s three sessions as the defending and six-time world champion claimed her fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2024 and the 38th in her career. On Sunday, she’ll open eliminations against Kenny Delco with her 50th national event victory – and her first win at Virginia Motorsports Park – just four win lights away.
“We knew he first session was going to be the good session and put a lot of emphasis on that because it's just going to get progressively worse throughout the day, and we needed to make a good hit first round, and fortunately, my guys are good enough to be able to do that,” Enders said.
“It's tough out there. Everybody's going through the same stuff, but you have to mindful what you put in your body and then being adequately hydrated and keeping your core body temperature down when the cockpit temperatures are over 150 degrees.”
Eric Latino went a strong 6.590 at 208.97 to qualify second, while Deric Kramer’s 6.596 at 208.59 gave him the third position.

On the hunt for history this weekend, Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Gaige Herrera threw down something spectacular to open qualifying on Saturday, going 6.703 at 200.83 on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. That set the track E.T. record and handed the defending world champion his third No. 1 qualifier this year and the 17th in his career. More importantly, it puts Herrera in a great spot to potentially make more NHRA history.
He's currently tied with legendary Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden for the most consecutive wins (9) and round wins (35) in NHRA history and can set the new mark with a memorable Saturday at a track that has served him well throughout his career.
“To be honest, on that 6.70, we were expecting a .72. We just happened to catch it before it really got hot out there today,” Herrera said. “Obviously these are the kinds of conditions we will be racing tomorrow., so we're going in there with a lot of confidence.
“If I can (break the record), it's going to be awesome. I'm happy with just tying Bob Glidden and to have my name in the same sentence as Bob. If I do it, that it'd be awesome, but going into tomorrow, no, I'm not thinking about it.”
Herrera’s teammate, Richard Gadson, took second with a 6.763 at 198.96 and defending event winner Matt Smith qualified third after going 6.788 at 200.80.
Eliminations for the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals begin at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park.