Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge Returns at NHRA Winternationals

One of the most fun parts of any 2023 NHRA weekend prior to the Countdown to the Championship was Mission Foods’ #2Fast2Tasty Challenge that brought together semifinalists from the prior race to have at it a second time. The rewards were more than bragging rights: there were money and Countdown points on offer in the Challenge and both fans and racers loved this Saturday program.

With one race behind it, the NHRA’s Mission Foods Drag Racing Series heads to In-N-Out Pomona Dragstrip for the 64th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals and the first 2024 Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. With three of four categories competing in this race: Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock, the Challenge takes place during Saturday’s pair of qualifying sessions.

Saturday success becomes even more vital to each of the semifinalists from the 55th Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals, held last weekend at Gainesville Raceway. Even though some of the Gatornationals’ qualifying got rained out, the weather cooperated beautifully on Sunday and fans on-site and watching from the comfort of their homes were treated to head-turning competition.

In the first Saturday qualifying session, the Challenge pits semifinalists from the previous race against one another, with the two winners matching up as part of Saturday’s final qualifying session.

“After we got by (Ron) Capps in the second round (at the Gatornationals), we knew we were in (the Challenge) and that’s great. It’s a nice bonus for us,” revealed J.R. Todd, who won the Funny Car race in Gainesville. “It’s definitely a nice incentive. When we won the deal in Sonoma, that was a cool perk and then we won [again] on Sunday. It definitely gives you a pep in your step,” even without any added salsa.

Todd, driving Kalitta Motorsports’ Toyota GR Supra is one of 12 racers who will competing in the first 2024 Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Pomona. Even though he set the track speed record at the Gatornationals, Bob Tasca III didn’t come away with the win, so the Ford Mustang driver gets another opportunity to win this coming Saturday.

The second match-up is between Gatornationals No. 1 qualifier Austin Prock, who raced his John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro SS against Todd in the race’s final round; Prock will have his hands full with Chad Green and his Ford Mustang. Green won the season finale last November at Pomona for his first career Funny Car victory.

After securing the first double-up for Kalitta Motorsports in its estimable history just minutes after Todd earned the Flopper win in his Toyota, Shawn Langdon is – again – set to race against three-time champion Antron Brown in the Challenge next weekend. The second rematch falls to both CAPCO boys, as Gainesville runner-up Billy Torrence will have to get past his four-time champion son Steve during Saturday’s contests. Billy beat Steve in Florida; can he repeat in California?

Is there a bigger rivalry in Pro Stock than six-time and reigning champ Erica Enders, who is set to battle fierce rival and five-time titleholder Greg Anderson again in the Challenge? Enders secured her first-ever Pro Stock win at Gainesville and hasn’t missed a beat since earning her title in November. The second battle is a similar KB Titan Racing against Elite Motorsports struggle as Dallas Glenn will race Cristian Cuadra, the runner-up in last weekend’s Gatornationals. Three of these four combatants are competing in Chevrolet Camaro race cars. Cuadra races a Ford Mustang.

At the 63rd Winternationals last March, Justin Ashley earned the Top Fuel Wally nod, Matt Hagan took Tony Stewart Racing’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the Winner’s Circle in Funny Car while Dallas Glenn was the early-season winner at this track last year. The 64th edition of this Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series race is scheduled for March 22-24.

About Anne Proffit 1245 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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