Force, Ashley, Stanfield, Herrera win final Mission NHRA Challenge at Indy
NHRA Communications Images NHRA and Phil Hutchison
Funny Car legend John Force claimed his first win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, defeating back-to-back world champ Ron Capps in the final round. Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won the bonus event in Indy.
Funny Car legend John Force claimed his first win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, defeating back-to-back world champ Ron Capps in the final round on Saturday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park as part of this weekend’s 69th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals.
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge at the world’s biggest drag race in Indy.
Force went 3.989 seconds at 328.78 mph in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS to defeat Capps, picking up the victory in the bonus race for the first time in 2023. Force knocked off teammate Robert Hight earlier in the day before getting past his longtime rival in the finals, adding another chapter to his rich Indy legacy.
“I want to win the Mission deal, but it was an opportunity that I got away with it,” Force said. “You just do what you do and attack it. I’m not saying what I do is right, it’s just what I do. Some days, the good Lord lets me get away with it, and I did today. It was good to come in here to Indy and be able to do your job at my age. I ain’t great, but I’m good enough to be here, and I’m going to get better. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m no spring chicken. I’ve won Indy five times, but it was a good feeling to do this.”
Capps was the season winner in the Funny Car Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, accumulating 14 playoff points in the process.
In Top Fuel, Justin Ashley finished off his season-long success in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge with his unprecedented sixth victory in the bonus race thanks to a stellar run of 3.714 at 334.73 in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect/Toyota Dragster. That gave him the win over Antron Brown in the final round, as well as the season-long title in the specialty race. Ashley was incredible in the Saturday event from start to finish and his reward – along with a number of bonus payouts – is 21
“These Mission #2Fast2Tasty points really add up, especially because of when they come into play which is after the points reset,” Ashley said. “It was critical for our team to take advantage of every opportunity we had during this challenge. I feel like we did a great job with that, and it’s just a testament to the great team that we have.
“Overall, when you look at the challenge, it’s really unique, something we’ve never done as a sport. I think it’s good for the fans, good for the teams, and good for the drivers. It’s really a win-win all around. It’s just been so much fun. It’s been an absolute blast.”
Stanfield turned in an impressive performance in the final round of the specialty race in Pro Stock, knocking off Kyle Koretsky with a run of 6.630 at 207.56 in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro. Not only does it give Stanfield his second win this season in the bonus race, but the rising star was also overall Pro Stock season winner in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge over Dallas Glenn.
It was a thrilling moment for Stanfield, who looks to have a huge impact in the Countdown to the Championship. Saturday’s win provided plenty of momentum and Stanfield, who earned eight playoff points for the Countdown, hopes to carry it over to the rest of the weekend.
“It’s pretty cool and to be honest with you I didn’t even know I had a shot to win this,” Stanfield said. “Sometimes that’s the best way to go into something like that. I have to thank Mr. Gonzalez and Mission Foods for putting on a program for us to add a little bit of more competitive juices throughout qualifying and the race. My guys gave me a really good hot rod today, and I drove good enough to get it done. It’s always good to do it at Indy.”
Gaige Herrera cemented his dominance in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, winning for the fourth time in six Pro Stock Motorcycle races by defeating Eddie Krawiec in the finals on Saturday with a run of 6.759 at 199.11 on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. Much like he has been all year, Herrera was incredible on Saturday in the bonus event, posting a pair of strong runs.
It gave him 13 additional playoff points in the Countdown to the Championship, another tremendous achievement in his standout 2023 campaign.
“It’s been very exciting,” Herrera said. “Mission is a very big sponsor for us, so to be able to represent for them is big. Not only that, but to have both bikes in the final, it was awesome for the whole team and for Mission and our Vance & Hines Suzukis. I’m very ecstatic to get this overall win, I got four out of six of them, and this whole season has been incredible. It’s hard to put into words because I feel like it’s still not real.”