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Sunday News and Notes, Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals

News, notes, quotes, photos, and video from the final day of the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway. Updated throughout the day.
19 May 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Tony Schumacher

News, notes, quotes, photos, and video from the second day of the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway. Updated throughout the day.


After qualifying No. 1, T.J. Zizzo took another step towards his first NHRA win with a a solid 3.805 to stop Tony Stewart, who qualified on the bump, but managed a 3.993. Has previously been to one NHRA Top Fuel final, losing to Justin Ashley during the Covid shortened 2020 season.


After winning Saturday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, Justin Ashley did what he does best with a holeshot win against reigning world champ Doug Kalitta. Ashley ran a 3.827 which was just enough to hold off Kalitta’s 3.790 by a margin of just .007-second.  “Holeshot, no shot, whatever. I’m just happy to get the win. I think a 3.82 in that [left] lane is pretty stout,” said Ashley.


Dan Mercier has made steady strides in his Top Fuel career and he took another move forward in round one when he topped eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, 3.876 to 3.967.


Jasmine Salinas took a wild ride in her round one race against Antron Brown. Salinas had a chance to upset the three-time champ when her Scrappers dragster hazed the tires at half-track. Salinas pedaled the car, but crossed the centerline and finished the run in Brown’s lane. She managed to get the car safely stopped while Brown moved on to race Justin Ashley.

Quarterfinals pairings (lane choice first). T.J. Zizzo vs. Dan Mercier; Shawn Langdon vs Shawn Reed; Steve Torrence vs. Clay Millican; Justin Ashley vs. Antron Brown


When he won yesterday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, J.R. Todd predicted that there would be a lot of tire smoke on Sunday and it didn’t take long for that prediction to come true but unfortunately for Todd, the smoke came from his DHL Toyota. Todd barley moved off the starting line, allowing Alexis DeJoria to advance with a 4.166 in her Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota.


Low qualifier Austin Prock made a single run and ran a very respectable 3.97 in his Cornwell Tools Camaro after his scheduled opponent, Jack Wyatt, was unable to fire his Dodge-bodied entry. Prock has already won 10 elimination rounds this season and extended his championship lead over the rest of the field so far.


Bob Tasca III kept pace with the leaders with a 3.980 in his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford that was enough to stop Dave Richards, who continues to take forwards steps with his Versatran entry. Richards was with Tasca for the first half of the track before slowing to a 4.204.


The most anticipated match of the round featured Matt Hagan and Ron Capps in a battle of multi-time world champs. This one went to Hagan who ran a 4.087 after Capps lit the tires at half-track. Hagan’s Dodge Power Brokers Dodge made several hard moves, but he managed to keep the car from crossing the centerline until after the finish line.


On days like this, where track temperatures dictate performance, experienced crew chiefs like Jim Head are invaluable. Head tuned driver Blake Alexander to a 3.996 which was enough to get past Chad Green, who made a competitive 4.117 pass in what was a challenging left lane.

Quarterfinal pairings (lane choice first): John Force vs. Alexis DeJoria; Paul Lee vs. Matt Hagan; Bob Tasca III vs. Blake Alexander; Austin Prock vs. Daniel Wilkerson.


Jerry Don Tucker missed both of Saturday’s qualifying runs because he returned to Oklahoma to attend a graduation ceremony  but that didn’t prevent him from advancing to the quarterfinals. Opponent David Cuadra fouled, allowing Tucker to move on with a 6.645 in his Outlaw Mile-Hi Light Beer Chevy.


After a pair of red-light starts, Cristian Cuadra flirted with a foul as he used a .003 light and a 6.630 to take out Matt Hartford’s 6.639 run. Cuadra has been among the class reaction time leaders for the last few seasons. “I was looking for .020 light but a .003 is perfect for me. I’m just glad it stayed green,” said Cuadra.

“This kid is as good as it gets,” added Hartford.


In a scene eerily reminiscent of the Bristol final round from 2022, Aaron Stanfield destroyed an engine in his Johnson’s Horsepowerd Garage Camaro. Stanfield turned on the win light when Fernando Cuadra Jr. fouled, but shortly after the finish line, his car was obscured by massive amounts of engine smoke. Stanfield managed to get the car stopped safely, but there will certainly be an engine swap before the next round.


Troy Coughlin Jr. missed the Tree with an uncharacteristically late .064 light but still managed to win on a holeshot afterhis 6.604 held off Kenny Delco’s 6.595. Coughlin will have his work cut out for him in round two as he’s scheduled to face “Double O Dallas” Glenn.



John DeFlorian is best known as the lead chassis builder at Jerry Haas Race Cars, but he’s also a solid driver and he proved it in round one when he scored a massive upset over reigning world champ Erica Enders, 6.581 to 6.565. DeFlorian was recruited to test Matt Hartford’s new GETTRX Camaro.

Afterwards, Enders explained the loss, but also took a shot at Hartford, who has been a longtime rival. “My car kept rolling a bit and I didn’t want to red-light. It was just one of those deals. Matt Hartford likes to chirp a little bit but as we like to say at Elite Motorsports, ‘What are your credentials?’.”

Quarterfinal pairings (lane choice first): John DeFlorian vs. Jerry Tucker; Jeg Coughlin Jr. vs. Aaron Stanfield; Dallas Glenn vs. Troy Coughlin Jr.; Greg Anderson vs. Cristian Cudra


Chase Van Sant’s positive momentum continued in round one as he put down a 6.797 to take care of business against Steve Johnson, who closed to a 6.888  in the all-Suzuki affair. Van Sant ran a 6.75 in qualifying, but it came with a suspect 1.00 sixty-foot time, which if legit, would be a record for Pro Stock Motorcycles.


LE Tonglet missed the Tree in his race against Jianna Evaristo, but somehow managed to turn on the win light with a 6.792. Evaristo, making steady progress in her first season on a Buell V-twin, had an excellent shot to win the round, but shut off early when he bike began to make a move towards the retaining wall.


Gaige Herrera didn’t qualify No. 1, but he does have the quickest run of the event after a 6.694 on his RevZilla Suzuki. The Vance & Hines team admittedly missed the tune-up during their four qualifying runs on Friday, but ran low elapsed time of the round by six hundredths  of a second on race day.

Quarterfinal pairings (lane choice first): Matt Smith vs. Chase Van Sant; Angie Smith vs. Hector Arana Jr.; Gaige Herrera vs. John Hall; Richard Gadson vs. LE Tonglet.


The second round began with a great side-by-side match as Steve Torrence held off Clay Millican in a race decided by just .012-second at the finish line. Millican was off the line first, but Torrence tracked him down to win with a 3.854 against Millican’s 3.894.


Justin Ashley cut a competitive .049 light in his quarterfinal race against Antron Brown, but that’s about the last thing that went right for the SCAG team as Ashley soon smoked the tires, sending Brown on to a 3.891 victory and a date with fellow champ Steve Torrence in the semifinals.


Canadian Dan Mercier is on his way to the semifinals for the first time in his career with a 3.840 to beat low qualifier and sentimental favorite T.J. Zizzo. Mercier’s dragster was previously tuned by Rob Wendland, but that duty now falls on Serge Blanchet after Wendland moved to Shawn Reed’s team. Blanchet did credit Wendland for “giving us such a great set up to work with.”

Semifinals pairings, (lane choice first): Antron Brown vs. Steve Torrence;  Dan Mercier vs. Shawn Langdon


Blake Alexander is never one to be taken lightly and he showed why in the quarterfinals when he drove to a 4.146 during his win over Bob Tasca III, who smoked the tires. Alexander hasn’t been ranked in the Top 10 since the season-opener in Gainesville, but he’s likely headed there after reaching the semifinal round for the second time this season.


Funny Cars don’t need to run threes to be entertaining and the round two race between Matt Hagan and Paul Lee illustrated that point. In a great side-by-side race, Hagan held off Lee, 4.082 to 4.106. Hagan is looking for back-to-back victories after winning the most recent NHRA Mission Foods Drags Racing Series event in Charlotte, the 50th win of his illustrious career.


Dan Wilkerson may be new to the Funny Car class, at least as a driver, but his family has had considerable success at Route 66 Raceway including a victory last year by father, Tim. Now, Wilkerson is headed to the semifinals after a thrilling 4.084 to 4.109 win against low qualifier Austin Prock. After two round one losses to start the season, Wilkerson is also making steady progress with back-to-back semifinals in his SCAG Mowers Ford.

"There's no reason that a car that won last year can't win again, right?", said Wilkerson

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Matt Hagan vs. Blake Alexander; John Force vs. Dan Wilkerson


Greg Anderson got a free pass into the semifinals after Cristian Cuadra fouled, but he likely didn’t need it as he powered to a 6.588 in his HendrickCars.com Camaro. Anderson came into the Chicago event as the championship leader, and extended it after Erica Enders’ round one loss.

“I’m not doing my best job today, but somehow I got win lights in the first two rounds,” said Anderson. “I just have to get my head right but the car is great.”


Hands down, the best race of the round in Pro Stock was put on between Dallas Glenn and Troy Coughlin Jr. The reaction times favorted Glenn by .003-second and he held on to win, 6.593 to 6.594.

“T.J. got me yesterday in the bonus [Mission] race and I got him today,” said Glenn. “He got me off the line yesterday by three thousandths and I got him by three thousandths today. That’s tough. I’m sure he would have beat anyone else in that round.

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first):Jerry Tucker vs. Aaron Stanfield; Greg Anderson vs. Dallas Glenn


LE Tonglet is headed to the semifinals on the strength of a 6.779 after Richard Gadson’s RevZilla/Vance & Hines Suzuki quit just off the starting line. Tonglet has now been to the semifinals in all three of his starts this year on the Maple Grove Raceway/KPK Development/Nitro Fish Suzuki.


The low qualifiers in all four Pro classes are now on the sidelines after Chase Van Sant defeated Matt Smith in round two. Van Sant hit the Tree hard with a .012 light and then ran a 6.808 on his Trick Tools Suzuki to take out Smith’s 6.812.

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Chase Van Sant vs. Angie Smith; Gaige Herrera vs. LE Tongelt.


Antron Brown will race in a final round for the 135th time in his professional career after taking out his buddy, Steve Torrence in the semifinals. Torrence smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle while Brown drove to a 3.894 in his Matco Tools dragster.

Brown will have his work cut out for him in the final as he takes on Shawn Langdon, who ran low E.T. of the day with a suspect 3.764 in his win over Dan Mercier, who shut off early. Even Langdon’s crew chief, Brian Husen, was at a loss to understand how Langdon’s car ran so quickly. “We’re going to have to figure out how it did that,” said Husen.


Matt Hagan qualified No. 11 in the Funny Car field, but he found his groove on race day with a solid 4.050 in his semifinal win against Blake Alexander, who smoked the tires.

Hagan will give up lane choice to John Force, who will be his his 268th career final following a 3.987 win against Daniel Wilkerson. Force won earlier this year in Pomona while Hagan won the most recent NHRA event in Charlotte.


Jerry Don Tucker decked the throttle in his semifinal race against Aaron Stanfield but an appareny two-step malfunction resulted in a red-light that sent Stanfield to the final round. Stanfield drove to a 6.602 for the win and he’s got a shot to double up as he’s also in the final of the Holley EFI Factory Stock Showdown.

Dallas Glenn will have lane choice in the final after he took care of business against Greg Anderson in a battle of KB Titan teammates. Glenn left first and clocked a 6.565 for the win over Anderson’s 6.582.


Chase Van Sant is going to the final round for the first time in his carer thanks to a 6.806 win over Angie Smith. Van Sant has a tough job ahead of him as he’s got to race Gaige Herrera, who continues to scorch the clocks with a 6.720 in his win over LE Tonglet, who made it a fair fight with a 6.755.

“For me, this is my first final, and I’m really racing against myself,”  said Van Sant. “I’m just trying to be vest version of myself I can be. We’ll just have some fun in this final round.”


Jimmy Ronzello def. Dave Dupps Jr.

Julie Biermann def. Johnny Diekema

Rick Huges def. Brad Cole

Jeremy Mason def. Steve Hoyt

Dalton Deffenbaugh def. Butch Dresback

Larry Demers def. Zach Sackman

Eric Dillard def. Khalid alBalooshi

Stephen Bell def. Lee Hartman

Greg Stanfield def. Aaron Stanfield

Dave Schroeder def. Alex Taylor

Dave Vantine def. Elmeri Salakari