Robert Hight, Mike Salinas, Erica Enders, and Angelle Sampey win Norwalk Nationals

By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer 

The NHRA rolled into Norwalk, Ohio for their 10th event of the 2022 season with the annual Norwalk Nationals. The day featured all kinds of actions and close calls. At the end of the day with an exception of a late rain shower that delayed the action for 30 minutes, the finals saw great competition and Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all took home their respectively Wally’s. 

  1. Funny Car – Last week’s Bristol winner Ron Capps was attempting to go back-to-back this weekend and almost did so, but with a couple of close calls. Capps, the California native qualified No. 1 for the 33rd time of his career following Saturday’s qualifying and lined him up in the first-round race with Dale Creasy Jr. The two nearly collided shortly after leaving the starting line. Creasy’s car moved into Capps’ lane and had two wheels off the ground. Thankfully, for Ron, his car shut off early, avoiding Creasy Jr, and went on to win the round. Unfortunately,  Capps was eliminated by eventual runner-up Bob Tasca in the semis. As for the winner Robert Hight, he qualified third and had a first-round competitor, and No. 14 qualifier Jim Campbell. Hight was seeking his first win since Richmond and started the day out with a time of 3.903 and 326.24 mph to advance to the quarterfinals. Interesting to note, Hight has won 76% of the time in his first-round matchups. The John Force Racing driver would face Toyota driver Alexis DeJoria in the second round. Hight had the advantage on the starting line with a reaction time of .071 to DeJoria’s .111. He won in the second round with a 3.997 over DeJoria’s 4.651. Hight then would face J.R. Todd in the semis and had a great side-by-side race winning by .0339 seconds, good enough to face rival competitor Bob Tasca in the finals. In the finals, Hight met Tasca for the 39th time in their careers and Hight also had the upper advantage already having one win over Tasca in the finals. The California native saw a reaction time of .036 to Tasca’s .046. Hight was never behind Tasca as he powered to his fourth win of the 2022 season and 57th of his NHRA career with a time of 3.944 seconds and 327.51 mph. “I think its awesome and I am so proud of this team. They have worked so hard. AAA and everybody behind us, Chevrolet, Cornwell Tools was here with us. AAA of Ohio this weekend was a big deal. They love coming out here to the races, and there were some new faces. It shows we are legit here and here to win. But you know what, we have two weeks to get ready for Denver and go out there and try to sweep the swing. And that is exactly what this Auto Club team is going to try to do.“This is big. I’ve never won here. We come here almost every year and race in Night Under Fire, a huge match race where the Badder’s pack in all the fans. I’ve won that thing a lot, but I could never get it done here for the National event. I think this is awesome being able to cross this one off and get the points lead, it’s big. I am so proud of this AAA team. They have worked so hard. AAA Ohio and everybody behind us, Chevrolet, Cornwell Tools was here with us. I’ve had so much fun this weekend and we’ve had a great time, and I’m not ready for it to end.”

    As for Tasca, he started the day fourth and met Mike McIntire Jr in Round 1. Tasca saw win lights with a 3.921 and 326.00 mph to face then point leader Matt Hagan in the quarterfinals. The Maine native won over Hagan advancing to the semis with a 3.941 to Hagan’s 4.876. Hagan was up in smoke at half-track causing him to lose the race. Tasca met No. 1 qualifier, Ron Capps, in the semis and while it was a great race, Tasca powered over Capps despite Capps having the starting line advantage. The win was good enough for Tasca to make his 22nd final round appearance. 

    Unfortunately, however, Tasca’s 3.962 wasn’t good enough to take down Hight in the finals and Tasca had to settle for his 13th runner-up. 

  2. Top Fuel – Mike Salinas and the Team Scrappers team have been on fire for the 2022 Top Fuel season. Salinas had three wins entering the Norwalk Nationals and sought his fourth. He did not start No. 1, as the No. 1 qualifier went to Brittany Force for the 35th time of her career. However, Salinas qualified third with a time of 3.744 and 327.51 mph which put him in the first round with Tony Schumacher. Salinas won over Schumacher going 3.758 over Schumacher’s 3.794. Meanwhile, Force won in her respective matchup Kyle Wurtzel. Salinas met Doug Kalitta in the second round after Kalitta won against Antron Brown. Salinas went 3.771 over Kalitta’s 3.776 to head to the semis and face Leah Pruett. He would be given lane choice against Pruett and was successfully eliminating her with a 3.822 to Pruett’s 6.052. Pruett was already in smoke after she left the starting line. Salinas’s competitor in the finals came against Josh Hart. Hart had some impressive round wins today at Norwalk winning against Spencer Massey and two John Force Racing drivers Austin Prock and Brittany Force. Those wins saw Hart have a first-time finals race with Salinas. In the finals, Salinas won against Hart with a 3.706 to Hart’s 3.783. Salinas made it A to B with his run while Hart put up a good fight. Though, Salinas won for the fourth time in 2022 and the seventh time of his NHRA career. “It’s amazing,” Salinas said. “(Crew chief) Rob Flynn brought a calmness to this team, and everyone has a voice. I think that is unprecedented and that’s been pretty awesome. We’ve earned the right to be out here and race against these guys, and we belong here. It’s a good thing because we’ve got a great team and I’m learning how to drive. It’s been really cool for this entire team and a lot of fun, and I just really appreciate being here and being in this position.”Hart settled for the first runner-up of his career.

    “I would say we have definitely turned a corner,” said Hart, who also has two semifinal finishes this season. “I am just going back to what I did last year and just trying to have fun. I believe all good leadership comes from the top. The owner of R+L Carriers told me I was forgetting an important thing. I was forgetting to have fun. That is what we did this weekend. We went out and had fun.”

  3. Pro Stock – It’s hard to stop someone who has momentum on their side and that’s especially true for Erica Enders and her team right now. With the exception of last week’s smoke show, Enders had won three times in a row up to that point since Las Vegas and most likely would’ve been four in a row had it not been for the blown engine at Bristol. She qualified No. 1 for the 25th time of her career and looked to keep her 2022 momentum going. She faced one of the Cuadra brothers in the first round (Fernando Cuadra Jr) and had an easy win after Cuadra Jr fouled on the light. Ender’s time of 6.597 saw low E.T. of the race and she had lane choice against Matt Hartford in the quarterfinals. Enders scored the round victory over Hartford with a 6.636 over Hartford’s 6.643, which advanced her to the semis racing Deric Kramer. She powered her Melling Elite machine to a victory of 6.611 to Kramer’s 6.659, which would see her face Bristol winner Aaron Stanfield in the finals. Stanfield, the Bristol winner, qualified third and saw Troy Coughlin Jr in the first round. He was the winner for the fifth time in his career over Coughlin Jr. The win gave him lane choice in his quarterfinal matchup with Mason McGaha. McGaha saw the tires get rattled just a bit to cost him the win against Stanfield and Stanfield went to the semis to face Kyle Koretsky. It was in the finals that Stanfield and Enders met once more. Enders had the advantage by having six wins over Stanfield. She also had two victories over her one loss in the finals with Stanfield. When the Christmas tree lights went off, Enders had a clean easy race, bouncing back from last week’s disappointment to her fifth win of the season. She won with 6.627 and 207.88 mph over Stanfield’s 6.658 and 207.15 mph.”I go back to the old days and remember how long this journey has been,” Enders said. “This is my 18th year in Pro Stock. I’m sure some of the viewers are sick of seeing this Melling Performances Chevy Camaro in the Winner’s Circle, but we went seven years winless. I drove for multiple teams and struggled to find money. But I finally found a home here and these Elite Motorsports guys believe in me – more than I do sometimes. I don’t have to question where they stand and I’ll tell you what as a driver it clears my mind and makes me question nothing. I could not be more proud of these guys. And thanks again to Melling Performance. We are going to Jackson, Michigan, tomorrow to see the Melling family and all their great employees, and we get to take them some badass hardware to show them I am just so proud.”

    Stanfield saw his third runner-up of the season and fifth of his career. 

  4. Pro Stock Motorcycle – Speaking of bouncebacks, Angelle Sampey, the Louisana native had a final-round loss at Bristol last week against Jerry Savoie. Sampey was heartbroken over the loss as she fouled on the light and was determined to get the win this weekend at the Norwalk Nationals. Her weekend started by qualifying second with a 6.801 pass and 197.74 mph, which would see her face Ron Tornow in Round 1. It wasn’t an easy run for Sampey as she began to drift over the center line just a tad over Tornow but still was able to win going 6.956 to Tornow’s 7.184. To note, she has won 76% of first-round matchups in her career and continued to do so today. Last week’s winner Jerry Savoie saw a win light in Round 1, winning over Steve Johnson, giving him a second-round match with Angie Smith. Smith has had a great bike all weekend, especially at one point going 200 mph in qualifying. In the second round, Sampey also met a Smith, but it was Matt Smith and she was victorious once more. Sampey won by .0297 and 195.90 mph to Smith’s 195.53 mph. Savoie also won in his round and met eventual winner Sampey in the semis. Sampey left first over Savoie and she never trailed. The Louisana native won with a time of 6.855 seconds and 198.35 mph which saw her go to her 80th final round appearance to face Joey Gladstone. Gladstone advanced to the finals after Hector Arana Jr fouled in the semis. Heading into the final round setting, both Gladstone and Sampey have won four times in their head-to-head matches. Sampey also scored a win over Gladstone once before in the finals. The two bikes left the starting line, but it was Sampey that got the victory for the first time of the season and the 46th of her career. 

    “You don’t know the internal battle that I was going through since last week,” Sampey said. “This was huge after the final in Bristol. I threw it away. I gave it to Jerry. It slipped through my fingers and on Monday I prepared for this race. By Friday, I dug deep within myself. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did mentally, but I’ve found that the biggest competitor these days is myself.”

NHRA Camping World Results at Norwalk Nationals 

Top Fuel 

  1. Mike Salinas 
  2. Josh Hart 
  3. Brittany Force 
  4. Leah Pruett
  5. Doug Kalitta 
  6. Steve Torrence 
  7. Austin Prock 
  8. Tripp Tatum 
  9. Antron Brown 
  10. Shawn Langdon 
  11. Tony Schumacher 
  12. Billy Torrence 
  13. Justin Ashley 
  14. Kyle Wurtzel 
  15. Spencer Massey 
  16. Clay Millican 

Funny Car 

  1. Robert Hight 
  2. Bob Tasca III 
  3. J.R. Todd 
  4. Ron Capps 
  5. Cruz Pedregon 
  6. John Force
  7. Alexis DeJoria 
  8. Matt Hagan 
  9. Chad Green 
  10. Jim Campbell 
  11. Mike McIntire Jr 
  12. Bobby Bode 
  13. Blake Alexander
  14. Paul Lee 
  15. Tim Wilkerson 
  16. Dale Creasy Jr 

Pro Stock 

  1. Erica Enders
  2. Aaron Stanfield
  3. Deric Kramer
  4. Kyle Koretsky 
  5. Greg Anderson 
  6. Matt Hartford 
  7. Camrie Caruso 
  8. Mason McGaha
  9. Chris McGaha
  10. Kenny Delco 
  11. Troy Coughlin Jr 
  12. Bo Butner 
  13. Fernando Cuadra Jr 
  14. Fernando Cuadra 
  15. Dallas Glenn 
  16. Cristian Cuadra 

Pro Stock Motorcycle 

  1. Angelle Sampey 
  2. Joey Gladstone 
  3. Jerry Savoie 
  4. Hector Arana Jr 
  5. Karen Stoffer
  6. Angie Smith 
  7. Eddie Krawiec 
  8. Matt Smith 
  9. Chip Ellis 
  10. LE Tonglet 
  11. Jim Underdahl 
  12. Steve Johnson 
  13. Ryan Oehler 
  14. Ron Tornow 
  15. Jianna Evaristo 
  16. Marc Ingwersen 

Official NHRA Camping World Point Standings 

Top Fuel 

  1. Mike Salinas, 821 points 
  2. Brittany Force, -12 
  3. Steve Torrence, -109 
  4. Justin Ashley, -110 
  5. Austin Prock, -308
  6. Josh Hart, -312
  7. Shawn Langdon, -354
  8. Clay Millican, -359 
  9. Doug Kalitta, -362
  10. Leah Pruett, -404

Funny Car 

  1. Robert Hight, 929 points 
  2. Matt Hagan, -21
  3. Ron Capps, -100
  4. John Force, -274
  5. Cruz Pedregon, -368
  6. Bob Tasca III, -412
  7. J.R. Todd, -420
  8. Alexis DeJoria, -439 
  9. Tim Wilkerson, -486
  10. Chad Green, -521 

Pro Stock 

  1. Erica Enders, 814 points 
  2. Aaron Stanfield, -105
  3. Kyle Koretsky, -252
  4. Dallas Glenn, -338
  5. Greg Anderson, -355
  6. Mason McGaha, -379 
  7. Camrie Caruso, -392
  8. Deric Kramer, -438
  9. Matt Hartford, -474
  10. Bo Butner, -477

Pro Stock Motorcycle 

  1. Steve Johnson, 488 points 
  2. Angelle Sampey, -52 
  3. Karen Stoffer, -55
  4. Joey Gladstone, -103
  5. Angie Smith, -105
  6. Matt Smith, -109 
  7. Eddie Krawiec, -111
  8. Jerry Savoie, -145
  9. Marc Ingwersen, -195 
  10. Jim Underdahl, -229 

Up Next: The NHRA Camping World will take a few weeks off before returning to action at the Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colorado July 15-17 on FOX and FS1. 


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