In a moment the Cuadra family could have never imagined, brothers Cristian and Fernando Cuadra Jr. lined up against each other on the starting line Sunday in the Pro Stock final round of the CTECH World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS.
The record will show Fernando Jr. winning the $75,000 prize after Cristian went red under the lights at Orlando Speed World Dragway, but the family will remember it as a massive victory for both. Both Ford Mustangs ended up sharing the spotlight in the winner’s circle as the Cuadra family celebrated the incredible moment.
“For me, both of us won,” Fernando Cuadra Jr. said. “The moment I saw Cristian win (in the semifinals), it was like a dream come true. We didn’t expect to be here. It was a great night, an unbelievable night. This is such a special moment and the excitement is unbelievable. This is the best feeling ever.”
It was a final round not many — if anyone — would have predicted, especially considering the way the first two rounds went. Defending and four-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders and fellow four-time champ Greg Anderson seemed on a collision course for another memorable matchup in their storied rivalry.
Both put on a show in the second round, as Enders went 6.501-seconds at 210.87 mph and Anderson followed two pairs later with the quickest run of the weekend, a 6.497 at 212.86. But the Cuadras stood in their way and they delivered in a major way, playing the underdog role perfectly.
Fernando Jr. went a blistering and career-best 6.504 at 212.90 – which was also the fastest run in Pro Stock this weekend — to beat Anderson, while Cristian was spectacular on the starting line against Enders, delivering a .001 reaction time as his 6.524 at 211.30 edged out Enders’ 6.516 at 210.54.
On the top end, there was a celebration for the ages as the brothers embraced while their father, Fernando Cuadra Sr., basked in the moment on the starting line.
“It’s like a dream. When I was in the semifinals, they were both tough. Then we won and we were like, ‘We made it.’ It was really special for us,” Cristian Cuadra said. “They were counting on me to beat Erica and we did it. We made huge progress. Our engines are working better and everything is going smooth, so hopefully we can keep that going.”
Fernando Sr. couldn’t stop smiling in the winner’s circle as a mob of people offered congratulations before the final round. It had been a moment the veteran had long dreamed of when he first started racing and he made sure to revel in it.
“Let me tell you, we were dreaming of this moment but we never expected it to come,” Fernando Cuadra Sr. said. “Today was a moment to say we’re not far from the other guys. They gained, they pushed it, and take a look at what happened. It was outstanding. Their reaction times, they are machines. I’m speechless and it’s hard to describe the feeling.
“They’re consistent and working, and challenging the big guys. It’s not easy and it’s one of the most competitive classes, and today was a dream come true.”
The team, running an engine program from Frank Iaconio Racing Engines, made noticeable strides all weekend in Orlando, going from runs in the 6.60s to nearly reaching the 6.40s. The family credited fellow Pro Stock competitor Kenny Delco for linking them up with Iaconio and the difference was evident on Sunday.
Before the 6.504 in the semifinals, Fernando Jr. went 6.530 the round before, while posting the top speed of the race shows the immense potential the engine program has.
“We were really far, far behind and those engines produce really good power,” Fernando Jr. said. “They make us look like superstars. I’m thankful for them and everyone who has helped out. We couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
Added Fernando Sr.: “We appreciate all the people working in this program. The nice part of this weekend is we started from behind, almost a tenth apart. But they never give up. Frank kept an eye on the details and we changed a couple of things and, bingo, it woke up the engines.”
Succeeding in a pair of Mustangs was also significant, especially for the continued health of the Pro Stock class, and that part was also meaningful to the Cuadra family.
While Anderson and Enders were brilliant all weekend, the Cuadras performed like seasoned veterans in the clutch as well, and now both get to enjoy a moment that will last forever. Fernando Jr. also already has a spot in mind for the massive $75,000 winner’s check he received in the winner’s circle.
“That check, I’m going to hang it on my ceiling in my bedroom so every time I go to sleep I’m going to see it,” Fernando Jr. said. “Thank you to everybody who put together this event. It was outstanding — the best event ever.”