DRAG ILLUSTRATED'S WORLD DOORSLAMMER NATIONALS - EVENT PAGE
SUNDAY - A MEMORABLE EVENT COMES TO A MEMORABLE CONCLUSION
In a moment the Cuadra family could have never imagined, brothers Cristian and Fernando Cuadra Jr. lined up against each other on the starting line Sunday in the Pro Stock final round of the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS.
The record will show Fernando Jr. winning the $75,000 prize after Cristian went red under the lights at Orlando Speed World Dragway, but the family will remember it as a massive victory for both. Both Ford Mustangs ended up sharing the spotlight in the winner’s circle as the Cuadra family celebrated the incredible moment.
“For me, both of us won,” Fernando Cuadra Jr. said. “The moment I saw Cristian win (in the semifinals), it was like a dream come true. We didn’t expect to be here. It was a great night, an unbelievable night. This is such a special moment and the excitement is unbelievable. This is the best feeling ever.”
It was a final round not many — if anyone — would have predicted, especially considering the way the first two rounds went. Defending and four-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders and fellow four-time champ Greg Anderson seemed on a collision course for another memorable matchup in their storied rivalry.
Both put on a show in the second round, as Enders went 6.501-seconds at 210.87 mph and Anderson followed two pairs later with the quickest run of the weekend, a 6.497 at 212.86. But the Cuadras stood in their way and they delivered in a major way, playing the underdog role perfectly.
Fernando Jr. went a blistering and career-best 6.504 at 212.90 - which was also the fastest run in Pro Stock this weekend — to beat Anderson, while Cristian was spectacular on the starting line against Enders, delivering a .001 reaction time as his 6.524 at 211.30 edged out Enders’ 6.516 at 210.54.
On the top end, there was a celebration for the ages as the brothers embraced while their father, Fernando Cuadra Sr., basked in the moment on the starting line.
“It’s like a dream. When I was in the semifinals, they were both tough. Then we won and we were like, ‘We made it.’ It was really special for us,” Cristian Cuadra said. “They were counting on me to beat Erica and we did it. We made huge progress. Our engines are working better and everything is going smooth, so hopefully we can keep that going.”
Fernando Sr. couldn’t stop smiling in the winner’s circle as a mob of people offered congratulations before the final round. It had been a moment the veteran had long dreamed of when he first started racing and he made sure to revel in it.
“Let me tell you, we were dreaming of this moment but we never expected it to come,” Fernando Cuadra Sr. said. “Today was a moment to say we’re not far from the other guys. They gained, they pushed it, and take a look at what happened. It was outstanding. Their reaction times, they are machines. I’m speechless and it’s hard to describe the feeling.
“They’re consistent and working, and challenging the big guys. It’s not easy and it’s one of the most competitive classes, and today was a dream come true.”
The team, running an engine program from Frank Iaconio Racing Engines, made noticeable strides all weekend in Orlando, going from runs in the 6.60s to nearly reaching the 6.40s. The family credited fellow Pro Stock competitor Kenny Delco for linking them up with Iaconio and the difference was evident on Sunday.
Before the 6.504 in the semifinals, Fernando Jr. went 6.530 the round before, while posting the top speed of the race shows the immense potential the engine program has.
“We were really far, far behind and those engines produce really good power,” Fernando Jr. said. “They make us look like superstars. I’m thankful for them and everyone who has helped out. We couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
Added Fernando Sr.: "We appreciate all the people working in this program. The nice part of this weekend is we started from behind, almost a tenth apart. But they never give up. Frank kept an eye on the details and we changed a couple of things and, bingo, it woke up the engines.”
Succeeding in a pair of Mustangs was also significant, especially for the continued health of the Pro Stock class, and that part was also meaningful to the Cuadra family.
While Anderson and Enders were brilliant all weekend, the Cuadras performed like seasoned veterans in the clutch as well, and now they get to enjoy a moment that will last forever. Fernando Jr. also already has a spot in mind for the massive $75,000 winner’s check he received in the winner’s circle.
“That check, I’m going to hang it on my ceiling in my bedroom so every time I go to sleep I’m going to see it,” Fernando Jr. said. “Thank you to everybody who put together this event. It was outstanding — the best event ever.”
OF RECORDS BROKEN, AND HEAPS OF CASH WON - Khalid Al-Balooshi had the top Pro Mod all weekend and that was emphasized in resounding fashion in a record-breaking final round on Sunday at the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS.
Al-Balooshi put on a thrilling show during eliminations at Orlando Speed World Dragway, saving his best for last under the lights against 2020 Pro Mod Alex Laughlin in the final round. The former NHRA Pro Mod world champ and tuner Brad Personett unleashed something special in his Bahrain 1 Racing ProCharger-powered Camaro, making the quickest run in the history of the class with a pass of 5.613-seconds at 254.76 mph to beat Laughlin’s 5.698 at 250.46. It came just hours after Al-Balooshi first set the E.T. record in the opening round of eliminations and it put a fitting stamp — along with a $50,000 prize — on his dominant winning weekend.
“The car got the job done this week and Brad has given me a badass car,” Al-Balooshi said. “Brad has given me a great car since last year and I think we’ve got a good shot to do even better this year. We couldn’t have asked for anything more than what we did. I’m living the dream.”
Al-Balooshi going 5.61 on two different occasions was seemingly an alternate reality, but the Bahrain 1 Racing team was on another level in Orlando.
He qualified No. 1 with a 5.659 at 251.25, but that was just a preview of what was to come in eliminations. Al-Balooshi opened Sunday was a massive statement, going a then-record 5.617 at 253.18 to knock off Kris Thorne.
He stayed in the low 5.60s, going 5.634 at 228.85 against Jerico Balduf in the second round and following it up with a 5.625 at 230.06 to beat class newcomer J.R. Gray and advance to the final round.
Laughlin was quicker off the starting line, but Al-Balooshi hit his shift points perfectly and drove by him en route to the world record and the impressive victory. The team put significant runs on the car in the off-season in Bahrain and it translated almost flawlessly to open 2021.
“What we learned in Bahrain was big. To get the chance to race over there, we learned a lot. We made almost 40 runs and that gave us the chance to start the year with a great car,” Al-Balooshi said.
Added Personett: “We ran it all winter long. This is probably the best car I’ve worked on and it just prints tickets, and Khalid just keeps better and better as a driver. When the conditions change here, it’s Disney World. It’s a confidence-builder for all of us.”
The addition of manual shifting into the Pro Mod class was a major change, but the early results have been incredible for Al-Balooshi. He was impeccable throughout qualifying and eliminations, and despite it being a new challenge for the talented driver, it’s something Al-Balooshi has loved.
"This is what I’ve been excited to do. This is fun,” Al-Balooshi said. "This the best thing that could have happened for the class.”
Personett was quick to praise Al-Balooshi for the job he’s done on the car, too, namely when it comes to shifting. In fact, the versatile driver has proven to be a natural at it.
“He’s a machine. He’s getting almost Pro Stock-like where he’s hitting it as the light is turning on. He’s just amazing as far as his feel and touch in the car. It’s a neat deal,” Personett said.
Laughlin made a valiant effort with his new Elite Motorsports ProCharger-powered Mustang, making dramatic strides in the car’s debut. After beating teammate Lyle Barrett in the opening round, Laughlin topped Dustin Nesloney in the second round with a 5.701 at 253.66. He went 5.723 at 249.90 to beat Justin Jones and advance to the final round, where Laughlin had hoped to beat Al-Balooshi and claim the $50,000 prize for a second straight year.
But he couldn’t hold off Al-Balooshi despite a strong run, as the Bahrain 1 Racing team was stellar from start to finish.
It was also a motivated group following the loss of a number of close friends in the off-season. Al-Balooshi dedicated the victory to Sonny Leonard, Adam Lambert’s father, Timothy, and close friend Salah Bin Eidan, calling it a special moment to win for them.
“This winter has been a difficult one,” Al-Balooshi said. “We lost a lot of friends, starting with Sonny (Leonard). We miss Adam Lambert’s dad and, two weeks ago, I lost one of my friends. We grew up together and raced together. He’s from Kuwait, and it’s just been a difficult winter. This is good to win for all of them and I hope they’re watching us. This trophy is for those people.”
SPORTSMAN WINNERS - In addition to Pro Stock and Pro Mod, a range of additional classes raced for big money on Sunday at the CTECH Manufacturing World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS at Orlando Speed World Dragway.
Wes Distefano ($hameless Racing Pro 632 presented by C&C Pumping), Erica Enders (Comp Eliminator), John Cerbone (Ray Skillman Auto Group Factory Shootout), Derrick Brown (Top Sportsman) and Brian Oakes (Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock) were victorious, joining Pro Stock winner Fernando Cuadra Jr. and Pro Mod victor Khalid Al Balooshi.
PRO 632 - Wes Distefano entered the World Doorslammer Nationals with the No. 1 on his window as the defending world champion in PDRA Pro Outlaw 632. His Musi 632-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro qualified No. 3, giving him a solid start going into Sunday eliminations. He continued running strong all day, firing off a 4.158-second pass at 173.07 to defeat defending event champion Dillon Voss and his 4.246 at 168.45 in the final round.
“We were working on some things and we were pretty consistent,” Distefano said. “We knew we were chipping away at the little stuff and sneaking up on it [going into eliminations]. With the weather today, it just came to us. In this kind of air, everybody is going to run incredible. We just figured it out to the point where we ran the best.”
Distefano collected a class-record $15,000 payday for his winning efforts. Along with the Holdorf family and C&C Pumping, Distefano and $hameless Racing put up money so the class could race for its highest payout alongside the marquee Pro Stock and Pro Mod classes.
“It's great to recoup some of that,” Distefano joked. “We had the odds stacked against us when you put up money like that. It was good to overcome the adversity and come out on top. We've supported and promoted the 632 class and I think we're seeing the growth of that. This big payout encourages people to continue building cars knowing that this class is strong, it's going to be around, and that there's going to be strong car count and participation.”
Distefano ran a 4.233 at 171.27 to beat Bobby Starr’s 4.276 in the opening round. He dipped into the 4.10s with a 4.199 at 172.04 in the second round, beating Walter Lannigan and his 4.274. The Michigan-based driver improved to a 4.161 at 173.03 in the semifinals. He was set to face No. 2 qualifier Jimmy Pelcarsky, who had issues off the starting line.
Voss qualified No. 4 in his Voss Racing Engines-powered ’17 Corvette, then raced past Tony Lobaldo, Chris Holdorf and No. 1 qualifier Daryl Stewart on his way to the final round.
COMP ELIMINATOR - Four-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders was one of numerous drivers pursuing a double-up victory at the World Doorslammer Nationals, competing in Pro Stock and Comp Eliminator. She bowed out in the Pro Stock semifinals, but held on for her first Comp Eliminator victory. Enders left the starting line first and ran a 7.894 at 176.42 on an 8.15 index, defeating Joseph Arrowsmith, who went 9.961 on an 8.21 index.
“A win is a win, no matter what the time slip says,” Enders said. “I was still pretty mad about my semifinal Pro Stock performance, but it’s really cool to win in Comp. It’s a class that I’m very new to, and I’m still learning how to drive the car. Leaving on a bottom bulb is a totally different procedure. It was a little ugly and I had to pedal the car, but you leg it out to the finish and I saw him disappear. It was cool.”
Driving the Sharp Racing ’08 Pontiac G5, Enders eliminated Taylor Chomiski, Greg Kamplain and Brian Browell before meeting Arrowsmith in the $10,000 final round.
Arrowsmith qualified No. 3 in his ’06 Pontiac and knocked out Pat Ross, Royce Freeman and Joe Carnasciale Jr. in prior rounds.
FACTORY SHOOTOUT - Driving one of three cars out of the Saw Mill Auto Group camp, John Cerbone delivered a standout performance in Factory Shootout competition, culminating with a $10,000 victory in the final round. He steered his Travis Hilger-tuned ’19 COPO Camaro to a career-best 7.721 at 180.31 alongside David Janac’s 8.157 at 142.24.
“This is the biggest race I've ever won – and I've won some big races,” Cerbone said. “This is really big for us. I really feel like we did something, like we accomplished something here. We did it with the help of all of our teams. It's a testament to Barton [Racing Engines] and Travis and everybody else on the team. Everybody did this. I just drove the car. All this doesn't happen without Robert Falcone and Ronnie Maio from Saw Mill Auto Sales. They're the ones that put this together for us.”
Cerbone qualified in the No. 6 spot and beat Stephen Bell, Mark Pawuk, and David Barton to earn his spot in the final round.
Janac was just a tick quicker than Cerbone in qualifying, starting race day from the No. 5 position. He earned round wins over Leonard Libersher, teammate and defending NHRA Factory Stock Showdown world champion Aaron Stanfield, and Arthur Kohn.
TOP SPORTSMAN - North Carolina Top Sportsman hitter Derrick Brown strung together five round wins in his ProCharger-boosted ’14 Camaro to pick up the $10,000 Top Sportsman check. He was running low 6-second passes all day until he got loose in the final round, still beating David Cuadra, who encountered traction issues off the starting line and couldn’t recover.
“The track got a little loose and I probably drove it a little too far,” said Brown, thanking crew chief William Brown and supporters like Modern Racing and FTI Converters. “I seen him over there and I just wanted to get out far enough that he couldn't come back and correct himself. I probably took it a little too far but I got it corrected and down the track safe.The car is in one piece, the motor is in one piece and I can go to the next race. [This win] means a lot to me.”
Brown raced past Don Preece, Angel Gonzales, Brandon Miller and Jeff Melnick en route to the final.
STOCK/SUPER STOCK - Super Stock racer Brian Oakes made the trip down to Orlando from his North Carolina home base to take part in the $10,000-to-win Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock combo at the World Doorslammer Nationals. He made his trip pay off, winning five rounds in his ’69 Camaro. Oakes defeated Jay Storey in the final round, using a .006 reaction time and a 9.021 on his 8.98 index. Storey ran 8.887 on his 8.89 index in his ’18 Camaro.
“I said I'd come down here for the money,” Oakes said. “You do the math – $10,000 to win – why not? I think this is a real good deal.It can’t get too much better. Being retired, that's like a million! I got 7-8 runs in testing and three time runs, which was great considering the weather. I really think they did a good job and I hope they do it again. I'll come back again next year.”
Oakes beat Jeff Anderson, David Lindsay, and Edmond Ellison before receiving a bye to the final round.
SATURDAY - ANDERSON, AL-BALOOSHI HEAD INTO RACEDAY AT DI WORLD DOORSLAMMER NO. 1 QUALIFIERS
Greg Anderson moved a step closer to the biggest single-race payday in his legendary Pro Stock career. The veteran standout qualified in the No. 1 spot at the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS, with his run of 6.531-seconds at 210.14 from Friday in his Chevrolet Camaro holding up during Saturday’s final qualifying session.
The four-time world champ earned the $1,000 top qualifier bonus sponsored by Chilly Willys and has plenty of momentum heading into Sunday’s eliminations, where the winner will earn $75,000. Anderson came close a year ago at the inaugural race, losing in the final round, and appears ready to try and finish the job in 2021.
“It’s great but just because you’re low doesn’t mean you’ve got everyone covered,” said Anderson, who has 94 career Pro Stock wins. “It’s a nice feather in the cap, but it doesn’t get you much more than that. The good news is we have a fast car among all the other fast cars, so we’ve got a great chance.”
Joining Anderson as the No. 1 qualifier was Khalid Al-Balooshi, who took top honors in Pro Mod and claimed the $1,000 top qualifier bonus sponsored by Caruso Family Racing.
Back-to-back and four-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders moved up to second on Saturday, making the top run of the day by going 6.534 at 209.95 in her Trulieve/Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
It bumped teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. to third — though he made another solid run of 6.541 to close out qualifying — and Kyle Koretsky finished fourth. Like last year, first-round pairings will be determined by a chip draw on the starting line. That takes place at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, just before the first round of eliminations, which are slated to begin at 12 p.m.
For Enders, it was just the run she was looking for heading into crunch time on Sunday.
“We did not do very well (Friday),” Enders said. “I made a decent run the first session and the second session we had a clutch issue. We came back and fixed that, and we were really glad to get that third session and have a little peace of mind. It was a good run, so I feel confident and hopeful I can do my job tomorrow.
“We just have to go up there and do the best we can. There’s a lot of money on the line so I feel like everyone will be going after it, but we have to do the same, keeping in mind we have to run our race. We just have to do the best job we can and if we do that, we should not be able to be beat.”
Saturday’s lone qualifying session was considerably cooler than Friday, which forced a dramatic change in conditions. With Sunday also calling for temperatures in the mid-60s, Anderson was thankful for the chance to find an engine tune-up for those conditions.
Anderson’s car got loose during his lone run on Saturday, but he’s confident he can rectify that before eliminations. He’s been a standout — and the most successful driver in Pro Stock history — in single-race shootouts, with the pressure of big-money races often bringing out the best in him. Anderson is hopeful he can replicate that on Sunday, knowing full well what it will take to succeed against a quality field.
“When you’ve got weather like this and power like this, you’ve got to go straight,” Anderson said. “That’s very important. I’ve got to get up on the wheel and make sure the car stays straight. I’m glad we got a run today because this is more of what we’re going to see tomorrow, so that’s good. I’m looking forward to it. My car wants to run, there’s no question about it.
“I know the adjustments I need to make tomorrow. When you’re making the kind of power we are with the way the weather is, you have to stay in the groove. That’s going to be the No. 1 thing on my mind.”
As for the event itself, Enders remains impressed with how things came together for the second-year event. She praised the atmosphere and the treatment of the racers, with the race continuing to draw rave reviews from participants, fans, and sponsors.
“Just being on the other side of it and seeing how much work went into making it happen, seeing it come to fruition is great,” Enders said. “It’s exciting to see a vision come together and, of course, being the second year we worked out a lot of kinks. We’re going to keep working to make this event better and it’s just awesome. It’s a fun, exciting environment and I really like it.”
PRO MOD - Khalid Al-Balooshi was happy to take the No. 1 qualifying spot in Pro Mod and grab the $1,000 top qualifier bonus thanks to his run of 5.659 at 251.25 from Friday in his ProCharger-powered Bahrain 1 Racing ’19 Camaro.
But more than anything, Al-Balooshi was simply pleased to see teammate Justin Bond get into the show. On the outside looking in heading into the final qualifier on Saturday, Bond jumped up to third with a stellar run of 5.726 250.64. That brought a smile to Al-Balooshi’s face knowing the team landed in two of the top three spots and enter Sunday’s eliminations with a strong chance to win the $50,000 prize.
“I am happy, but more than anything we put Justin Bond’s car in the show,” Al-Balooshi said. “We have two shots to race tomorrow and try to win. That’s what made us happy today. We were struggling a little bit, but we found what we needed to and we made some adjustments, and we’re both headed in the right direction.”
Bond credited standout tuner Brad Personett for dialing up the strong run in the clutch, which gave Bond, the top qualifier from the inaugural race a year ago, plenty of confidence heading into Sunday.
“We had a fast car last year and we made some changes over the winter. We were trying some different stuff and then when it came to qualifying we put went back to our old stuff and lost it a little bit,” Bond said. “The manual shifting was causing me trouble, but I’ve got a good group of guys and Brad is just great. Consistency is going to be key tomorrow, but I think we can do well.”
Jason Scruggs sat out the session and finished in the second position after going 5.704 at 252.76 on Friday and Brandon Snider, who finished second in NHRA Pro Mod last year, took fourth with a run of 5.745 at 250.46 in his new blown Camaro.
First-round matchups, however, will be determined by a chip draw for the first time in the class at the event. Pro Stock did it a year ago, but Pro Mod joined the mix in 2021, with the top 16 qualifiers drawing chips to set pairings for the opening round of eliminations.
Al-Balooshi and Bond continue to work closely together, and it appears both cars have found their rhythm at a key time. As for eliminations, Al-Balooshi knows his car has the performance, it’s simply a matter of consistency under pressure.
“It made my day seeing (Bond) qualify today,” Al-Balooshi said. “It makes me way more comfortable going into eliminations (Sunday) with two good cars. Now we just need to keep going round after round. Tomorrow we just need to keep making good runs.”
TOP SPORTSMAN - The Top Sportsman top 3 went unchanged from Friday’s two qualifying sessions. Cheyenne Stanley is No. 1 spot with a 6.154-second pass in his twin-turbocharged ’07 Mustang, but was unable to return for Q3 after tangled parachutes caused him to end up in the sand trap on Friday. Mike Lubniewski followed in the No. 2 spot with his 6.201, with Derrick Brown going 6.211 in his ProCharger-boosted ’14 Camaro to round out the top 3.
FACTORY SHOOTOUT - Bill Skillman remained in the No. 1 spot in Ray Skillman Auto Group Factory Shootout with a 7.78 at 178.24 in the Ray Skillman Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. David Barton improved to a 7.806 at 176.56 in his Barton Racing Engines ’17 Camaro to qualify No. 2. Former Pro Stock star Mark Pawuk moved down to the No. 3 spot in his Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Drag Pak with a 7.809 at 177.32.
PRO 632 - Jupiter, Florida’s Daryl Stewart jumped to the top of the $hameless Racing Pro 632 presented by C&C Pumping qualifying order in the final session with his 4.189 at 170.49 in his ’15 Camaro. Jimmy Pelcarsky held onto the No. 2 spot with his 4.194 at 170.45 from Friday night. Wes Distefano qualified third in his $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro with a 4.204 at 171.29.
COMP ELIMINATOR & STOCK/SUPER STOCK - The Comp Eliminator No. 1 qualifier is Joe Carnasciale Jr in his I/SM ’06 Cavalier with an 8.756, .824 under his 9.58 index.
In the Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock combo, Jeff Taylor is the No. 1 qualifier with a 9.23, 1.67 off his 10.90 index.
Eliminations at the second annual CTECH Manufacturing World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS will begin Sunday at 10 a.m. EST starting with Stock/Super Stock. Pro Stock and Pro Mod drivers will draw chips to determine their first-round pairings during pre-race ceremonies at 10:45 a.m. EST.
CALLING THE BALL - Announcers Joe Castello and Al Tucci are the voices of the second annual CTech Manufacturing World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS, race officials announced today. Jason Logan will return as the event DJ for the race happening March 5-7 at Orlando Speed World Dragway.
Castello, known as an NHRA national event announcer and the host of the popular WFO Radio podcast, was called on by event promoter Wes Buck to announce at the inaugural World Doorslammer Nationals in 2020. The South Florida native brings to the table his extensive knowledge of the sport, especially when it comes to the event’s headlining classes, Pro Stock and Pro Mod.
“I knew this would be a big event the second I heard it launch, but seeing it firsthand, it exceeded my expectations,” Castello said. “To be able to come back and be a part of continuing history at Orlando Speed World and highlighting doorslammer racing, I don't think I could be much more excited.”
Castello will share the announcer’s booth with Tucci, a veteran announcer known primarily for announcing major outlaw eighth-mile events. The duo has worked together previously at national events.
“We've shared the microphone for stints and I'm excited to work with someone who is so energetic and knowledgeable,” Castello said. “I think it's going to be something everyone will want to listen to.”
The World Doorslammer Nationals will be Tucci’s fourth time announcing a Drag Illustrated Media-produced event, as he was the voice of the World Series of Pro Mod in Denver from 2017 through 2019.
“I'm totally, absolutely excited to be announcing the race for Wes Buck and the whole Drag Illustrated crew,” Tucci said. “It means the world to me to be called back for one of these big events. The three on the mountain [in Denver] were just phenomenal. Last year was amazing. I was at the event watching. It’s been a dream of mine to call Pro Stock racing, so I’m really looking forward to this.”
Tucci’s energetic announcing style and familiarity with the people involved in the sport have made him a star announcer at events ranging from the World Series of Pro Mod to outlaw eighth-mile drag radial races. He got to know the stars of legal Pro Mod racing at the WSOPM events, then interviewed some of the Pro Stock standouts as an on-camera personality for a media outlet at the inaugural World Doorslammer Nationals.
“I've been known for years as an outlaw-style announcer,” Tucci said, “But when I was younger I actually announced at some division races at Great Lakes Dragaway, where they’d bring in the Midwest Pro Stock guys. I always thought my career would lead me to Pro Stock.
“I got to interview some of the top contenders like Greg Anderson at this race last year,” Tucci continued. “It was cool just to be able to meet them. It was neat that they knew me too. I'm just excited. I can't wait to click the mic on and just rip the place up.”
Rounding out the announcing lineup is Logan, who will DJ the event and interview drivers and crew chiefs on the starting line during breaks in the action. It was a role where the Orlando area native excelled during the inaugural race, and one he’s thrilled to continue.
“When they made the announcement about the race happening again this year, I couldn't wait to get the call,” Logan said. “Two weeks later, I got the call and I was like, 'Done. I'm in,' immediately.”
From his DJ booth located in front of the control tower, Logan turned the starting line into a party. It brought out a side of the ultra-competitive drivers that fans usually don’t get to see on the national event level, with drivers and crew members dancing and having fun on the starting line when cars weren’t running.
“It was definitely a more relaxed and laidback atmosphere, but the competition was still there,” Logan said. “The music provided a new element and helped get everyone loosened up and out of their shells. It was cool to provide the music and a lot of fun little things that we don't normally get to do at a national event. It was a new event, so we were kind of rewriting the rules and making things up as we went. It was good to have free reign and try things. I’m excited to build on that next week.”
WANTED: PAYBACK - Erica Enders accomplished a great deal last season, making more history in her incredible Pro Stock career.
But there was one thing missing and it’s something she can rectify right off the bat to open her 2021 season. The four-time Pro Stock world champ will race at this weekend’s second annual CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS at Orlando Speed World Dragway, with the Pro Stock winner again earning $75,000.
Like last year, it’s the biggest single-race prize in Pro Stock’s illustrious 50-plus year history and something Enders would love to add to her long list of accomplishments in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
She had an uncharacteristic first-round loss at the inaugural race last year, which only adds to her motivation heading into the weekend.
“While I was thrilled that our team car, Jeg (Coughlin Jr.), won the event last year, I couldn't help but have a bit of a chip on my shoulder from my early exit last year because it was all on me. I am ready for some redemption,” Enders said. “I am so ready to race in Orlando for the biggest purse of the season.”
Enders and her talented Elite Motorsports team took to the track this week in Orlando to test, the first time the team was back on the dragstrip since clinching her record-breaking fourth NHRA Pro Stock title last November in Las Vegas.
That gave Enders 29 career victories, back-to-back championships, and her fourth career title in Pro Stock. It also gave her more championships than any female in NHRA history and with her 2021 season starting in Orlando, she’s ready to continue that momentum.
While the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS is a one-off race each year, Enders classified it as one of her favorite races. She noted the unique atmosphere, the massive spotlight on Pro Stock, and, of course, the huge payday on the line. It’s a different feel than a typical points race, but that doesn’t change Enders’ mindset.
“Although this is a different kind of race, I don't change the way I prepare or perform,” Enders said. “With that being said, this is so exciting and on a different level for us, being that it is our race as well as me being a competitor. This event is unlike any other. The racer is treated great and as the first priority. The race is fun, laid back, but still has the pressure of the biggest race of the year. It’s just a different environment and I cannot wait."
With the Elite Motorsports team heavily involved in the race, Enders has seen the inner workings of an event that has received immediate support and praise from racers, sponsors, and fans.
Enders will also pull double-duty this year, racing in both Competition Eliminator and Pro Stock, with the event adding several sportsman classes in 2021.
“It’s one of the biggest stages we can perform on in Pro Stock and certainly for the biggest purse,” Enders said. “I am so proud of all of the work that has been put into this race from our camp. Anyone who is anybody will be there, so if you are a racing fan, you need to be in Orlando. Get out of the cold, get on a flight, and come be a part of this epic event!”
GOTTA BE THERE - If the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS is to be known as the ultimate doorslammer event, race officials agreed the popular Factory Shootout class needed to be included.
That’s become reality for the second annual race, which takes place March 5-7 at Orlando Speed World Dragway, and Ray Skillman Auto Group has been named the official sponsor of the class at the event, with the winner earning $10,000.
The standouts in the Factory Shootout class will get a major spotlight to showcase their skills, racing in front of a huge crowd with a big payday on the line.
“It’s one of the coolest classes out there and people want to see these cars come to a big doorslammer event like this,” said Bill Skillman, owner of the Ray Skillman Auto Group and also a driver in the class. “We want to be there in Orlando and we wanted to sponsor this class because it’s just going to be an exciting weekend. These cars were made to go fast and have a good time, and we want to support the racers in this class.
“These guys live to race and we find that really cool. It’s going to be a good time.”
The Factory Shootout class adds another thrilling aspect to the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS, which features Pro Stock and Pro Mod as the headliners.
With COPO Camaros, Mustang Cobra Jets and Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Paks racing in Factory Shootout, it adds even more excitement to an action-packed weekend.
And as far as putting on a show, the class should feel right at home in Orlando.
“This is just an awesome and spectacular class in drag racing,” Drag Illustrated Founder and Editorial Director Wes Buck said. “It brings together some of that outlaw small-tire feel with the big-show feel of quarter-mile drag racing, and the support of the major auto manufacturers.
“These cars are on the ragged edge, they’re fast and doing wheelies and I couldn’t be happier to have them in Orlando. There’s certain classes that need to be featured at an event called the World Doorslammer Nationals and I think Factory Shootout is one of them. It’s had tremendous interest and support from sponsors and racers, and everybody I’ve talked to is excited about this kind of racing.”
They’ll be on center stage in Orlando with a chance at a big payout, and several top names are expected to be on hand, including Skillman, Bo Butner and many more.
The class had a two-car exhibition at the inaugural CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS a year ago, putting on a memorable show in Orlando. Now, they’ll have an even bigger spotlight and Skillman expects the class to shine in March.
“It’s a very small tire with a lot of horsepower, and they go fast and lift the wheels off the ground,” Skillman said. “You see the Mopars run the Camaros and Mustangs, and it makes for a really good, fun time. I think the fans love it. They want to see guys race heads-up and go down the track, and that’s what this class gives you.”
ANDERSON, AL BALOOSHI PACE DAY ONE AT WORLD DOORSLAMMER NATIONALS
Orlando Speed World Dragway continues to bring out the best in Pro Stock legend Greg Anderson.
The four-time world champ rocketed to the top of provisional qualifying at Friday’s CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS, impressing the crowd with a run of 6.531-seconds at 210.14 mph in his Chevrolet Camaro. Anderson is a longtime standout in the Pro Stock shootout events and advanced to the final round of the inaugural race at Orlando a year ago.
He was also the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday in 2020, putting him in strong position to again contend for the $75,000 prize on Sunday.
“I feel confident and things are definitely going the right way,” Anderson said. “We tested for a couple days and we got a good handle on the car, and now I’m working on the engine tuneup. I feel like we can run really well. That’s great and that’s reassuring, but there’s a lot of cars that can run really well. You feel like you’re on top of the mountain and then you see you’ve got less than a hundredth on the next car. But we’ve got a car that can compete and challenge for big money.”
Joining Anderson as the provisional No. 1 qualifier was Khalid Al-Balooshi in Pro Mod.
Anderson tested earlier in the week and made a pair of solid runs on Friday as he looks to take it one step further than he did last year and claim the largest single-race prize in Pro Stock history. It would be another monumental achievement for the 94-time race winner, but it’s not going to be easy.
Troy Coughlin Jr., racing the same car his uncle, Jeg Coughlin Jr., drove to the winner’s circle in Orlando last year, is qualified second after going 6.540 at 210.41 in his JEGS Camaro, and Kyle Koretsky is third with a 6.543 at 211.16. Defending Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders sits fourth with a 6.548 at 211.06 heading into the final day of qualifying on Saturday before Sunday’s eliminations.
Temperatures are expected to dip heading into raceday and Anderson knows he must be prepared for that as well.
“You’re going to have a weather change and a track change, so you’ll have make changes,” Anderson said. “It’s another challenge and that’s good. You’ve got to be ready because everybody here is going to have to make adjustments. That’s great and an extra challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Coughlin couldn’t have asked for much more as he begins his second season in Pro Stock. He had the best run of the opening session and stayed consistent, crediting the standout team behind him at Elite Motorsports.
“Everybody here on this JEGS team has worked impeccably,” Coughlin said. “They put so much effort into this and the work ethic speaks for itself when it comes to results. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m in a great place with greater people keeping my mind in the right place. They keep my confidence up and I think we can be a contender. It’s just about focus and finding a good read on the conditions, but this team gives me a ton of confidence.”
Koretsky is another young talent who continues to impress in the Pro Stock ranks. Like Coughlin, he started his Pro Stock career in Orlando a year ago and he appears to be a natural in his Lucas Oil Camaro. He was again consistent during qualifying and believes he has a car capable of winning the $75,000 prize.
“Everything felt good out there. The team is working well together and I think we’re ready for a big day,” Koretsky said. “I’m a lot more confident in myself, I’m a lot more comfortable and things are just coming a lot more natural this year. This is a special race and place for me, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
PRO MOD - Former NHRA Pro Mod world champ Khalid Al-Balooshi put in extensive work over the off-season adapting to the new manual shifter in his Bahrain 1 Racing ProCharger-powered ’19 Camaro.
Through two qualifying sessions in Orlando, the early results are promising.
Al-Balooshi made the quickest run in both of the sessions, with his impressive blast of 5.659 at 251.25 during the second qualifying session leading the way.
Al-Balooshi estimated he made 30 runs with the manual shifter — which is now required in NHRA Pro Mod cars — in Bahrain in the off-season and he appears to have adjusted well.
Al-Balooshi said he was a little off during the first qualifier when he went 5.735 at 235.39, but he more than made up for it just a few hours later.
“Everything felt good. The first run, I missed the shifter,” Al-Balooshi said. “We’ve got some new stuff in the car and made a couple of good runs. In my opinion, we’re comfortable with the car, but I’m sure the other cars will be there (Sunday). I still don’t shift perfectly with the new (manual) shifter, but I’m more comfortable with it. Everybody will be fast (on Sunday), but we are ready. We changed some things around and I think we learned a lot over (in Bahrain).”
Jason Scruggs is currently second in qualifying after going 5.704 at 252.76 and Brandon Snider is a spot behind with a 5.745 at 250.46.
Scruggs made a solid run as the sun started to go down on Friday, but he knows the potential for more is there. He went 5.67 during testing on Thursday under the lights and believes it will take multiple passes in that range to win the $50,000 prize.
Scruggs ran well at the facility a year ago during the inaugural race, but with much cooler temperatures on deck for Saturday and then eliminations on Sunday, the veteran standout knows he will have to keep pushing.
“Truthfully, I felt like we can run better than we did that second run,” Scruggs said. “It was kind of in between there, but Sunday is going to be a lot different. I think we’ve got a good combination and can go in the 5.60s, and that’s what it’s going to take to be successful. The ProChargers may have a bit of an advantage, but it’s still anybody’s race, and I feel like we can run with everybody.”
In Top Sportsman, Cheyenne Stanley went to the No. 1 spot with a 6.154-second pass in his twin-turbocharged ’07 Mustang. Mike Lubniewski followed in the No. 2 spot with his 6.201, with Derrick Brown going 6.211 in his ProCharger-boosted ’14 Camaro to round out the top 3 in the 27-car qualifying order.
The provisional low qualifier in Ray Skillman Auto Group Factory Shootout is Bill Skillman with a 7.78 at 178.24 in the Ray Skillman Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. Former Pro Stock star Mark Pawuk drove his Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to a 7.80 at 177 to qualify No. 2. John Cerbone ended up No. 2 in his Saw Mill Auto Sales Chevy COPO Camaro with a 7.831 at 177.39.
Record holder Jimmy Pelcarsky shot to the top of the $hameless Racing Pro 632 presented by C&C Pumping qualifying sheet in his small-block-powered ’15 Camaro with a 4.194 at 170.45. Wes Distefano took the No. 2 spot with a 4.204 at 171.29 in his nitrous-fed $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro. Florida’s own Dillon Voss is No. 3 with his 4.224 at 170.21 in the Voss-powered ’17 Corvette.
COMP ELIMINATOR & STOCK/SUPER STOCK
The 17-car Comp Eliminator field is topped by Joseph Arrowsmith of Ham Lake, Minnesota, in his ’06 Pontiac GTO.
In Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock, Craig Gualtiere is the provisional No. 1 qualifier.
The second annual CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS will continue Saturday with Q3 at 11 a.m. starting with Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock, weather permitting. Eliminations begin at 12 p.m. on Sunday.