J.R. Todd powered to the Funny Car victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday at a sold-out Firebird Motorsports Park, defeating John Force in the final round of the specialty event as part of the 39th annual NHRA Arizona Nation als.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, while Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Austin Prock (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) claimed No. 1 qualifiers at the third of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

Todd held off Force in the final round of the Challenge with a run of 3.974s at 316.67mph in his DHL Toyota GR Supra. It gives the former world champion his second victory in the specialty race, with the first coming last year in Sonoma. Todd swept that weekend, which is something he would certainly love to replicate in Phoenix. Todd knocked off Matt Hagan in the earlier round before leading from start-to-finish against Force in the final round.

“Anytime you could turn on a win light against the greatest of all time, that’s it’s doing something whether it’s the Mission race or the actual Sunday event,” said Todd, who won the Gatornationals earlier this season. “He’s a tough one to get by.

“It’s weird to say that we’ve been struggling this year, but we have been struggling to get down to try to make clean runs and haven’t really been consistent a lot, so coming up to this race I think the game plan was just going from A to B to make sure we got a good clean run. to start off the weekend.”

Austin Prock’s 3.840s at 334.40mph from Friday in his Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS held up, giving the first-year Funny Car driver his second No. 1 spot in three races. He’ll open eliminations against Buddy Hull. Bob Tasca III took second with a 3.876s at 334.65mph and Paul Lee qualified third after going 3.889s at 329.02mph.

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher picked up the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victory with a run of 3.925s at 292.77mph in his Leatherwood Distillery/RAC Financial dragster, getting past Brittany Force in the finals of the specialty race. It’s the first victory in the Challenge for Schumacher, an eight-time Top Fuel world champ, who likes the direction the team is headed.

“This does a lot for us,” Schumacher said. “The car has been running well. They’ve made some changes. We’re happy where we’re at. We’re gaining knowledge. We have a great race car. I’m driving the car well, minus that last round. All things considered, we get to do it again tomorrow. This is a great race track, it’s a sold out show today and I’m looking forward to getting started for tomorrow.”

Steve Torrence’s strong run from Friday stood up, as the four-time world champion earned his first top spot of the season with his 3.678s at 336.23mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. He’ll open eliminations against Top Fuel rookie Travis Shumake, looking for his first victory of the season. Brittany Force qualified second thanks to Friday’s 3.689s at 334.90mph, while defending world champ Doug Kalitta’s 3.697s at 323.66mph put him third.

Enders’ Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge win in Pro Stock came against Mason McGaha, as the defending world champion tracked down McGaha with a run of 6.541s at 210.87mph in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/Scag Power Equipment car. It’s the second specialty event win for motorsports’ winningest female, and she’ll look to pick up her 50th career national event win on Sunday.

“We’re obviously very thankful for what Mission is doing for our sport and our class, and it’s exciting to have a race within a race despite the stress that it has been,” Enders said. “Rolling off the trailer and having no shots at the Tree or the racetrack before that round of eliminations, it was nerve-wracking. Fortunately, my horsepower saved me. I’ve saved my car before and today they saved me.”

Her Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. swiped the No. 1 spot from the six-time world champ during the final session, as the veteran went 6.517s at 210.64mph in his Scag Power Equipment car. It’s the 35th career No. 1 qualifier for Coughlin, who returned back to full-time racing this season. He’ll open eliminations against Phoenix-area native Matt Hartford, looking to win for the first time since 2020.

“It’s very exciting and a big testament to this team,” Coughlin said. “To be on the pole, it feels fantastic. We unloaded off the trailer with a good run right off the bat. I had my hands full the first three gears and we tuned it up for Q2. It was the quickest of the session and went straight down the track. They tuned it up for Q3 and gave me a little more and it felt really nice. The car feels good and the team is gelling, and that’s what it takes.”

Enders’ 6.518s at 210.90mph put her second, while Dallas Glenn took third with a 6.537s at 209.14mph.

Eliminations for the 39th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals begin at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday at Firebird Motorsports Park.