NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Tricky Tipster: NHRA Arizona Nationals

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series will return to Wild Horse Motorsports Park this week for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, where Shawn Langdon, Austin Prock, and Erica Enders are the pre-race favorites.
04 Apr 2024
NHRA National Dragster staff
Tricky Tipster®
Tricky Tipster

Since the recent Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals was not completed, we’ve got a bit less information that we’d expect at this point in the season, but that won’t prevent Tricky Tipster, NHRA’s resident oddsmaker, from handicapping this week’s event at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix.

Last week, we had Shawn Langdon, Austin Prock, and Erica Enders tabbed as the favorites in Pomona, and we’re going to stick with that script as we saw nothing in California to make us feel differently.


The favorite: Shawn Langdon followed up his (slightly) surprising Gainesville win with a solid outing in Pomona that resulted in a quarterfinal finish. Langdon qualified No. 7 in the field and topped Krista Baldwin in round one before he smoked the tires in round two in what would otherwise have been a winnable race against Tony Schumacher.

Langdon only needs an average car in order to be a threat to win races, and this season, it appears he’s got much more than that, which makes him one of the favorites against what is a truly stacked Top Fuel field.

The contenders: It’s almost impossible to ignore Capco teammates Steve and Billy Torrence because they’re both ranked among the top five in Top Fuel in the early-season standings. Billy backed up his Gainesville runner-up with a semifinal in Pomona, while Steve dropped a tough quarterfinal race to Justin Ashley.

Speaking of Ashley, he’s going to have to be on his game in Phoenix as every run he makes will be an elimination run. He’s in the final round of the Pomona event against Tony Schumacher, and he’s also racing in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge with his Scag entry. Should he run the table, he’ll go home with three trophies, a nice pile of cash, and most likely the points lead. Ashley is also the defending Phoenix winner, for what that’s worth.

The dark horse: So far, the 2024 season has not been kind to Clay Millican, but the Rick Ware Racing/Parts Plus dragster is one of those cars that can strike without warning. The team destroyed a lot of parts at the first two races, but there is every reason to believe the problem has been identified and fixed ahead of this weekend’s race. As long as that’s the case, the 2022 Phoenix runner-up should once again be in the mix.

Shawn Langdon               Kalitta Air                                      3-1
Steve Torrence                 Capco Contractors                      4-1
Doug Kalitta                      Mac Tools                                     5-1
Justin Ashley                      SCAG Power Equipment           6-1
Billy Torrence                    Capco Contractors                     7-1
Antron Brown                   Matco Tools                                 8-1
Brittany Force                   Monster Energy                          8-1
Clay Millican                      Parts Plus                                    9-1
Tony Stewart                     Mobil 1                                        12-1
Josh Hart                            R+L Carriers                               15-1
Field                                                                                         19-1


The favorite: Ahead of the Pomona event, we claimed that it was a bold move to pick Austin Prock as the favorite in Funny Car. That is still the case, but perhaps not as much as one would think. Prock does still have limited experience in a Funny Car, but he’s looked right at home so far. He’s also going to be wheeling the same Chevy Camaro-bodied entry that carried Robert Hight to back-to-back Phoenix wins in 2022 and 2023. Prock struggled in Pomona by not getting down the track a single time, which meant he qualified No. 15 and suffered a round-one loss, but we’re going to give him a mulligan on that one. It’s still a bit of a gamble, but he’s going to be our favorite for now.

The contenders: The delayed Funny Car final from Pomona will feature Matt Hagan and John Force, and it’s entirely possible that either one could double up. That’s especially true for Hagan, who won here in 2015, 2017, and 2019 and appears to have righted the ship.

The upper echelon of the Funny Car class also includes Gainesville champ J.R. Todd, Ron Capps, and Bob Tasca III, who are all among the leading contenders to get the job done in Phoenix. Capps and Todd went to the semifinals in Pomona, so they’re also a part of the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge event.

The dark horse: Paul Lee has significantly upped his game this year with the addition of two-time Top Alcohol Funny Car world champ Jonnie Lindberg and John Medlen as his tuners. Lee comes into the Phoenix event as the No. 8 driver in the class and could easily move up a spot or two. Winning the race might be a bit much to ask for at this point, but then again, in today’s Funny Car class, would it really be that much of a shock?

Austin Prock                Cornwell Tools Chevy                          4-1
Matt Hagan                  Dodge Power Brokers Dodge            5-1
J.R. Todd                       DHL Toyota                                           6-1
Bob Tasca III                Motorcraft Ford                                    7-1
Ron Capps                   NAPA Toyota                                         8-1
John Force                   Peak/Blu Def Chevy                              9-1
Chad Green                 Bondcoat Ford                                      10-1    
Daniel Wilkerson        SCAG Mowers Ford                              12-1
Blake Alexander          Pronto/Head Inc. Ford                        13-1
Cruz Pedregon             Snap-on Dodge                                   14-1
Alexis DeJoria              Bandero Toyota                                    15-1
Field                                                                                               18-1


The favorite: In the last 17 Phoenix events, there have been 15 different winners, which is remarkable for the Pro Stock class. Not surprisingly, the two drivers who have multiple wins in that stretch are Erica Enders, who is our favorite, and her Elite teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is among the leading contenders.

Enders won here in 2013 and 2020, and she was also a runner-up in 2015. So far this year, the reigning and six-time world champion has been on cruise control with seven straight round-wins in her Elite/JHG entry. Enders will face off with KB/Titan rival Dallas Glenn in the delay Pomona final, and she’s got a strong likelihood of winning both races.

The contenders: The KB Titan team seemed off a tick in Gainesville but also seemed to improve a bit in Pomona, especially Dallas Glenn, who made the final round. Greg Anderson has also been solid, especially on the starting line with a number of competitive lights.

NHRA fans should also see improvement from Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Aaron Stanfield, who are easily two of the best drivers in the class. Let’s also include the Cuadra brothers, especially twins Cristian and David, who come to Phoenix ranked No. 4 and No. 5 in the standings.

The dark horse(s): Last year, Camrie Caruso made history by winning her first Pro Stock event in Phoenix. Since then, she’s struggled to qualify consistently in the top half of the field, and she’s outside the top 10 coming into this event. This would be a perfect spot to right the ship. We can also give a nod to Mason McGaha, who has so far bounced back from a tough 2023 season and a DNQ in Gainesville to chalk up a few round-wins in his Harlow Sammons Camaro.


Erica Enders                  JHG/Elite Camaro                                 5-2
Dallas Glenn                 RAD Torque Systems Camaro            4-1
Aaron Stanfield            Janac Bros/J3 Energy Camaro             5-1
Greg Anderson            HendrickCars.com Camaro                 6-1
Troy Coughlin Jr.          JEGS.com Camaro                                 7-1
Jeg Coughlin Jr.            SCAG Power Equipment Camaro        8-1
Cristian Cuadra           Corral Boots Mustang                           9-1
Matt Hartford              Total Seal Camaro                                 10-1
Deric Kramer               GetBioFuels.com Camaro                    12-1
Camrie Caruso            AquaProp Camaro                                 14-1
Field                                                                                                19-1