Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 | Page 22


at Gainesville in the Fox Sports era . We were encouraged to see viewership grow throughout the entire air window during Sunday ’ s finals , with more than 1 million viewers tuned in for the final 1.5 hours of the broadcast .”
At the next race , NHRA and Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park officials announced a sellout crowd for Saturday and Sunday at the 38th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix . It was billed as the final NHRA race weekend at Wild Horse Pass , as the track is scheduled to close in the near future due to local highway construction .
“ It ’ s a huge thrill to see this passionate fanbase come out and show this kind of tremendous support ,” Cromwell said when Saturday ’ s sellout was announced . “ They ’ ve already helped make this a memorable weekend in Phoenix and we ’ re excited for all the incredible action set to take
place at the facility .”
Nitro stars Justin Ashley and Robert Hight won in Top Fuel and Funny Car , respectively , while sophomore Pro Stock driver Camrie Caruso collected her historic first win in the class .
The Arizona Nationals also hosted the first Mission Foods # 2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge , a special race-within-a-race pitting the previous events semifinalists against each other in a four-car shootout held during Saturday qualifying . Doug Kalitta ( Top Fuel ), Alexis DeJoria ( Funny Car ), and Troy Coughlin Jr . ( Pro Stock ) won the first challenges , with more set to take place throughout the season .
Starting the season with such strong fan attendance was a morale boost for everyone involved , especially the drivers .
“ I just love coming here ,” said Hight after winning in Phoenix . “ The fans are great and to see this crowd we had for three days , that really pumps you up as a driver . They ’ re back in the pits with you and that ’ s just what makes NHRA drag racing so awesome .” DI
22 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 182