NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Solid start fuels optimism for Mason McGaha and the Harlow Sammons team

A semifinal finish in Pomona and a runner-up in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Phoenix make Mason McGaha one of the favorites to be NHRA's next first-time pro winner.
13 Apr 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Mason McGaha

Although he’s not likely to take much credit, Mason McGaha’s driving talent has never been in doubt. Since the time he made his debut during the 2020 season as a teenager, McGaha has shown poise and confidence far beyond his years. That begs the question, could McGaha be NHRA's next first-time pro winner?

Let's take a closer look.

McGaha and his father, Chris, struggled in 2023 as neither driver made the Top 10 but thanks to a productive off-season and a rules clarification, they entered the 2024 season with a renewed sense of optimism. They remained optimistic even after the season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals produced a rare double-DNQ.

“In Gainesville, we should have done much better than we did,” said Mason, perhaps one of the few native Texans who is also a  New York Yankees fan. “That was the first time that both dad and I didn’t qualify, and it wasn’t fun. We tested in Bradenton before that, and both cars ran really well but we made some dumb decisions that came back to haunt us."

A trip to Pomona produced a much better result as Mason went to the semifinals thanks to a pair of holeshot wins over all-time holeshot leader Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Matt Hartford. A semifinal allowed McGaha to get into the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Phoenix and he made the most of it by downing Dallas Glenn in round one before finishing second to Erica Enders in the final.

“Pomona was definitely better than Gainesville; in fact it was awesome but it still wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. We might have been looking at the world through rose colored glasses.”

One thing that’s hard to overlook is McGaha’s reaction times, which have been among the best in the class this season. In addition to his two holeshot wins in Pomona, McGaha also slapped a .007 light on Enders in the Mission Challenge final.

“Last year I don’t think I drove very well, even back to 2022, I feel like I lost my edge a bit. I haven’t been happy with myself for a while, but I’ve got a bit more confidence now,” McGaha said. “When you’ve got a good car, it’s a lot easier to have confidence in your driving. They sort of go hand in hand.

“The biggest thing is that we just need to keep working and try to get these cars a bit quicker. We did find some power this winter but we just need to keep working. It’s that simple.”