BITHLO, Fla. – In a matter of 6.460 seconds on Saturday at Orlando Speed World Dragway, Matt Hartford’s Pro Stock season took a major step forward and gave him a spot in the Pro Stock records books in the process.
During the final qualifying session of the inaugural Drag Illustrated World Doorslammer Nationals presented by CTech Manufacturing, Hartford and Aaron Stanfield thrilled the crowd with a pair of 6.46-second runs in the quickest side-by-side run of the electronic fuel injection era in Pro Stock.
It was Hartford who claimed the top spot in his Total Seal Camaro, powering to an incredible 6.460-second run at 211.89 mph, giving him the No. 1 qualifier, the quickest run in the EFI era of Pro Stock – and the third-quickest run ever in Pro Stock, behind only Jason Line’s 6.455-second pass and Greg Anderson’s 6.457-second run with carburetors in 2015.
“The neat thing about it is it’s the third-quickest run in NHRA history out of a 500-inch car,” Hartford said. “That means a lot to us. I knew it was a good run. Sitting in the lanes, I could feel the temperature drop. I came back and grabbed the laptop, and made some changes before the run just feeling how quick it was turning. I was ecstatic. To put the Total Seal Camaro in the No. 1 position in qualifying, it’s a dream come true.”
It was a surreal final session to close out two spectacular days of qualifying in Orlando, setting the stage for eliminations on Sunday where $75,000 will go to the winner in the largest single-race payout in Pro Stock history.
In front of a huge crowd on Saturday, Hartford delivered the biggest run of all, putting him in prime position to win the payout against all the heavy-hitters in Pro Stock. Stanfield’s career-best 6.467-second pass at 212.43 mph in his Janac Brothers Racing Camaro was second best, while his Elite Motorsports teammate, defending NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, was a spot behind with a blistering 6.4680-second run at 213.64 mph in her Melling Performance/O.PenVAPE/Elite Motorsports Camaro.
Greg Anderson, who made the quickest run the night prior, was fourth thanks to a strong 6.470-second pass at 213.37 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro, while Deric Kramer rounded out the top five with a 6.472-second run at 212.16 mph in his American Ethanol Camaro.
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, with matchups being determined by a drawing at 10:30 a.m.
Hartford will get first pick after his gargantuan run, turning around a season that had been a struggle through the first two NHRA races of the season.
The veteran made a swift improvement on Saturday, going 6.482 at 212.39 to open the day. He added to that to end the memorable day, putting him in a terrific spot for eliminations. But Hartford knows he’ll have to stay on that level if he wants to head home with $75,000.
“We’re gunning for that $75,000 tomorrow,” Hartford said. “You’ve got the best of best out here, and there’s nobody backing down. You better be on your game, you better get your left foot off the clutch on time, and you better not miss your shift points. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes will win tomorrow.”
Stanfield was just as elated after a side-by-side pass he’ll remember for a long time. It brought the crowd to their feet, while Stanfield was sure to celebrate on the top end after hearing the numbers from crew chief Brian Self.
“I never thought we would be running this fast,” Stanfield said. “Lump has done an unbelievable job on this car and I’m just very happy right now. It’s not just this race, but in Pomona and Phoenix we’ve shown some really good potential. Everything is really starting to come together for this team. These guys are very serious and they work really hard, and I’m finding my place in the driver’s seat.”