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Anderson Wins GETTRX Pro Stock All-Star Callout; Zizzo, Prock, Enders and M. Smith Qualify No. 1 at Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals

NHRA photos

Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson drove to the win in the GETTRX Pro Stock All-Star Callout on Saturday at Route 66 Raceway, defeating Matt Hartford in the final round of the specialty event during weekend’s 24th annual Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance.

T.J. Zizzo (Top Fuel), Austin Prock (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the sixth of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

Anderson, the winningest driver in Pro Stock history, went 6.595-seconds at 208.36 mph in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, driving past Hartford to pick up his first Callout victory. Last year, Anderson failed to qualify for the specialty race, but he more than made up for it on Saturday, getting past No. 1 seed Erica Enders, who called out Anderson for a must-see matchup in the opening round, and Troy Coughlin Jr. in the semifinals. Anderson made three standout runs on Saturday and now has a chance to double-up this weekend at Route 66 Raceway.

“This is awesome. We made three fantastic runs today and that’s what it took,” Anderson said. “A lot of teams struggled because the starting line was tricky, but my car is in a happy spot right now and we got down through there. That breeds confidence. Nine out of 10 races are won on the starting line and we get it done because I’ve got a hell of a horse under me. I didn’t get to play in this event last year but I said if I got in, I’d pick the baddest car I the class first round. The roles were reversed and Erica picked me but I’d have done the same if it was my choice.

“Right now, things are great at KB Titan. We’re not backing into wins. We’ve flat out raced the competition and we’re earning them. But wins like this just make us want to work even harder.”

NHRA photos

Top Fuel’s T.J. Zizzo enjoyed an incredible moment on Saturday, clinching his first career No. 1 qualifier as Friday’s standout pass of 3.735 at 331.77 in his 11,000-horsepower Rust-Oleum dragster easily held up. To accomplish that in front of a huge group of family and friends at his home track meant even more for the Chicago native, and he performed well in the heat on Saturday, making a pair of solid runs. That bodes well for Sunday’s eliminations, which starts against Tony Stewart as Zizzo seeks his first career victory.

“This is a dream come true,” Zizzo said. “I told our team (last week) we have the equipment and the knowledge, the people and the personnel to be No. 1 qualifier and that’s what we’re going to do. That, to me, is a dream come true. It’s pretty amazing.”

Defending event winner Clay Millican qualified second with a 3.746 at 332.84 and defending world champion Doug Kalitta took third with a 3.750 at 332.84.

In Funny Car, Austin Prock kept rolling along, claiming his fourth No. 1 qualifier in the first six races of 2024 on the strength of Friday’s run of 3.907 at 332.43 in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS. Prock, who is the current points leader, will open eliminations against Jack Wyatt, looking for his second victory of the season. Just as important, the young standout and former NHRA Rookie of the Year has a chance to pick up his first career win at Route 66 Raceway.

“We got a lot of confidence going into tomorrow after making it down the track (in Q4),” Prock said. “It almost made it on the third run, but it knocked the tires loose. The big thing is that we made it, got down and picked up bonus points. Our car is good in the heat. We won Phoenix on a hot, tricky track and we can do that again here. It’s a tough business being a crew chief but I’ve got faith in mine [father, Jimmy]. Besides, the track will get better tomorrow and I think you’ll see some better runs.”

Bob Tasca III took second with Friday’s run of 3.913 at 329.91 and Paul Lee qualified third after going 3.922 at 323.13.

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Saturday didn’t start the way Pro Stock’s Erica Enders wanted, but she closed it out with a strong run, following up Friday’s pass of 6.548 at 209.69 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment car to cement her No. 1 position. It’s the second top qualifier this season and 36th in her career and she was pleased with the 6.595 to finish out qualifying in the heat. It was a strong turnaround after an opening-round loss to Anderson in the Callout, giving Enders confidence she can earn her 50th career national event win on Sunday at the same place where her first Pro Stock win came.

“After we ran so well on Friday, that first round of the Callout was not ideal,” Enders said. “T.J. [Coughlin] soldiered on but the rest of us [Team Elite drivers] did not. We didn’t get down the track. Afterward, we had a huge meeting with our crew chiefs and went back the drawing board. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. As much as I wanted to win today, race day and winning that Wally is what it’s all about.”

Troy Coughlin Jr. qualified second with a 6.554 at 209.75 and Anderson starts raceday in third looking for a double-up win.

Matt Smith broke Gaige Herrera’s record streak of 11 straight No. 1 qualifiers in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as his 6.708 at 201.40 was more than enough on his Denso Auto Parts/Matt Smith Racing Buell was more than enough to stay at the top. Herrera’s No. 1 string had dated back to last July, but Smith impressed immediately on Friday, claiming his 53rd career top spot. He’ll begin eliminations against Lance Bonham, looking for his first win of the season.

“I’m really excited. I have a good bike. We’ve been testing a lot and getting better and better,” Smith said. “Honestly, I don’t know if lane choice means anything. Both sides are really good. This place has always been good to me. I normally come up here and run really well. This track will take everything you can throw at it. I think we’re back to where we think we should be. A win would be huge. We had the best bike for three runs this weekend and I think we’ll have the best bike tomorrow.”

Herrera can win his eighth straight race on Sunday and qualified second with a run of 6.745 at 200.17. LE Tonglet took third thanks to a run of 6.772 at 200.44.

Eliminations for the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday at Route 66 Raceway.

This story was originally published on May 18, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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