NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Tasca, Ashley, Enders, and Herrera win Mission Challenge titles in Charlotte

Funny Car’s Bob Tasca III made the fastest run in zMAX Dragway history on Saturday, racing to the victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge specialty race. Justin Ashley, Erica Enders, and Gaige Herrera also scored wins in the Mission Challenge Saturday.
27 Apr 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Race coverage

Funny Car’s Bob Tasca III made the fastest run in zMAX Dragway history on Saturday, racing to the victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge specialty race as part of this weekend’s 14th annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.

Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won the specialty race at the fifth of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

In the Challenge final, Tasca went 3.834-seconds at 338.34 mph – the 10th-fastest run in Funny Car history – in his 11,000-horsepower Ford Performance Mustang to hold off points leader Austin Prock, J.R. Todd and Paul Lee. Tasca’s qualifying run from Friday was disqualified after his car’s intake manifold was found to have been media blasted. The violation is considered a technical infraction, as the intake manifold is not allowed to be altered in any form from its original, accepted state.

Tasca’s team recovered from that and turned in two strong runs on Saturday, including the track-record pass in the final round of the Challenge. He’ll now have a chance for a double-up weekend and to sweep the pair of 4-Wide Nationals events.

“Hats off to (crew chiefs) Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara. It was an incredible, incredible call in that final,” Tasca said. “This thing was fast, baby. It was dancing around and I was driving my butt off. It hauled the mail and it was exactly what we were looking for. I’m so proud of my team and we’ve got a car that can win tomorrow.

“The 338 mph goes to show you that the hard work that (Brooks and Okuhara) put in and the attention to detail pays off. These guys were focused on getting this race car right for the final round and winning this race. It’s Saturday but I feel like I’m in the winner’s circle on Sunday. This is an awesome thing (Mission does). We take it very seriously. We want to win this thing.”

In Top Fuel, Justin Ashley continued to roll on Saturdays in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, going 3.701 at 334.32 in his 11,000-horsepower Scag Power Equipment/Toyota dragster to outlast Antron Brown, Josh Hart and Steve Torrence. It’s the first specialty event win this season for Ashley, but the seventh overall Challenge win dating back to last season. He posted another great reaction time in the final quad and pulled away at the finish line, giving the young standout and points leader another opportunity for a double-up weekend.

“It doesn't matter whether it's qualifying whether it's the Mission Challenge, or whether it's race day, we want to win each and every lap that we make down the racetrack,” Ashley said. “That's just a testament to the team that we have. They've been doing a great job, working hard really since the offseason to put us in position to win.
“Whether it's a race, an event. or the Challenge, it's all equally as tough to win because the Top Fuel field is just that. I definitely try to push the tree as hard as I can each and every time. I think for me, it's muscle memory: practice like you play, so it's important to do the same thing. each and every time.”

Points leader Erica Enders got a second chance to compete for the specialty event win in Pro Stock and the six-time world champ made the most of it, going 6.516 at 210.73 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment car to win her second Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge of the year and third in her career.

Enders slipped past Dallas Glenn, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Jerry Tucker to claim the victory, getting a new life in the specialty race after Greg Anderson was disqualified in the opening-round quad due to a technical violation after bypassing a safety device. Enders replaced him in the final quad and now has the chance to double-up in Charlotte.

“Never give us a second chance. We’ll figure it out, eventually. I think we proved that last year,” Enders said. “The four-wide can definitely be confusing, but thankfully we figured it out and parked it in the winner’s circle. I can’t thank Mission Foods enough for supporting our sport.
“We’ve been behind the eight-ball a bit this weekend. We shook the tires in the final in Las Vegas and we shook again last night but our crew chiefs did a good job of figuring it out. This is a nice way to go to sleep on a Saturday night.”

Gaige Herrera’s track-record run in Pro Stock Motorcycle on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki handed the defending world champ another Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge victory, going 6.671 at 202.70 to hold off teammate Richard Gadson, and Matt and Angie Smith. It’s Herrera’s fifth victory in the specialty race, which has only been held seven times in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Herrera made his best run of qualifying when it counted and picked up the victory in the process.

“When we came here, I didn’t even realize there was a Mission race on Saturday but I’m very happy with it,” Herrera said. “It was great to be in the final quad with two Matt Smith bikes and two Vance & Hines bikes. I feel like it’s going to be like that all year long.”

Eliminations for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.