Capps, Brown, Anderson, Smith take home U.S. Nationals Wallys at Indy

By Briar Starr, Staff Writer

The U.S. Nationals is home to one of the biggest drag races of the year in the NHRA Camping World Series with the exception of the Gainesville and Pomona Nationals. Normally with it being a big event, you can expect tons of cars. In fact, on the preliminary entry lists, there were 900 cars total from each class that took place this past Labor Day weekend. In fact, for the Camping World Series, there was an uptick in entries with 25 entries for Top Fuel, 18 in Funny Car, 18 in Pro Stock, and 20 in Pro Stock Motorcycle making every qualifying session count. 

Additionally, there were five qualifying sessions that begin Friday night and lasted through Sunday night until rain showers canceled the last round of qualifying. With the result, Ron Capps continued his weekend dominance by qualifying No. 1 following his big $80,000 All-Star Pep Boy payday, Brittany Force and her John Force Racing team were putting up blistering numbers all weekend to see her qualify No. 1, while Greg Anderson seeking his 100th career victory was No. 1 in Pro Stock, and three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey qualified No. 1 for the 57th time of her career. 

We’ll take a look at the news and happenings that occurred following the 68th annual U.S. Nationals in this week’s column. 

  1. Ron Capps Finally A Indy Winner – After many years of trying, Ron Capps is finally a U.S. Nationals winner at Lucas Oil Raceway. It was the one victory that eluded Capps, the California native, all these years ever since he entered the Funny Car category back in 1997 driving for Don Prudhomme. The NAPA driver was close in last year’s race where he was runner-up once more to his fellow competitor Tim Wilkerson. Wilkerson broke Capps’ heart again in 2021 and he would have to wait another year. The weekend didn’t get to a great start for Capps and his own Toyota team. He found himself not qualified following the first round of qualifying Friday night after scraping the wall down the track. That meant, Capps would have to make the most of the rest of the four qualifying sessions, and only to have more pressure, he also had to deal with the special Funny Car All-Star Pep Boys event. In the event, Capps chose Wilkerson and won against him, and eventually found himself in the finals racing Matt Hagan. He ended up winning the event and took home $80,000. In addition, he posted a speed of 333.58 mph to earn his 34th No. 1 qualifier. Heading into his first-round match with No. 16 qualifier Dale Creasy Jr. However, knowing anything can happen at Indy, Capps couldn’t take his opponent lightly especially when Creasy Jr nearly upsetted Bob Tasca III a few weeks ago. For Capps, he advanced to the quarterfinals with a time of 3.886 and 331.36 mph to face J.R. Todd. Again in Round 2, Capps scored the victory after Todd started pedaling his dragster. In the first two rounds, Capps and his NAPA team would put up consistent numbers in the 3.80s. A 3.886 in round 1 and even faster in round 2 with a 3.883 and 333.08 mph. He had a tough opponent in the semis with John Force. In his semis match, Force deep staged again, but that didn’t stop Capps as he went on to the finals again with a 3.887 and 332.18 mph that would see him face John Force Racing’s, Robert Hight. The stage was set for the finals that would potentially see Capps take home his first U.S. Nationals victory. One item to also note, this was the fourth time in NHRA history where numbers one through four in qualifying were battling for the win. The track temperature was 105 degrees and Capps had his work cut out for him, as Hight was 8-2 against Capps in final round history. 

    However, once the two Funny Cars left the starting line, the long wait was finally over for Capps after his opponent Hight smoked the tires right away and up in smoke. After many years of triumph and heartache, the California native was finally an event champion with a time of 3.913 and 327.97 mph  

    “It’s such a surreal feeling, I can’t even put it into words,” said an emotional Capps following the momentous win. “There are so many emotions that come from winning such a big event that exemplifies NHRA’s heritage and history. To not only win Indy on Monday, finally, but to win the big Call Out race, and get the pole position all in one weekend, it was like I was held back, and held back, and held back, and then, the flood gates opened.

    “This year has been so crazy being a first-year team owner and having so much help around me. So many people wanted to be a part of what we were doing, and what we’re building, and it was so nice to have that support. Don ‘the Snake’ Prudhomme, my old boss, texted me right before I put my helmet on for the finals and he said, ‘one more, kid, go get ‘em,’ and I can’t wait to call him.”

  2. Antron Brown scores Indy victory – Speaking of team owners, there was another team owner who went to victory lane. In fact, it was a former teammate of Capps and that would be Antron Brown. The Indianapolis victory was another big win for Brown following his early season struggles in 2022 until winning and picking up momentum at Topeka just a few weeks ago. Though Brown had his work cut out for him with 25 Top Fuel dragsters on the entry list. However, Brown made it work with a pass of 3.712 and 330.55 mph in qualifying to see him qualify sixth on the board and put him in the first round with No. 11 qualifier Tripp Tatum whose dragster is prepped by the CAPCO team. Despite that in mind, Brown had a close race with Tatum as Tatum had the quickest pass of the weekend, but Brown came back and won by 15 feet. But, his second-round matchup didn’t get any easier. In fact, he had to face the most recent winner on the Top Fuel tour at Brainerd, Steve Torrence. Unfortunately for Torrence, he was up in smoke right away, and Brown ended up winning the round with a speed of 3.736 and 321.04 mph. The Matco Tools driver started losing cylinders down the track. For the semis, he had another tough opponent with Justin Ashley who was victorious over Shawn Langdon and Billy Torrence to get him to this moment. Brown was the winner, but not by much as he won by seven feet over Ashley. This set up a final round match with one of the stronger drivers of the class Brittany Force. Force won over Dan Mercier, Josh Hart, and Doug Kalitta. As the two competitors rocketed off the starting line, Brown had the slight advantage while Force kept with him. Unfortunately, the victory wasn’t meant to be for Force, as Brown went on to win his second Top Fuel Indianapolis trophy posting an ET of 3.706 and 321.65 mph. 

    “It’s unbelievable,” Brown said of his 70th NHRA victory just moments after hopping out of his Matco Tools/Lucas Oil/Toyota dragster. “Thank God above, all the prayers, all the hard work. We’re making it happen. We’ve been working so hard for this. To be here in Indy, our hometown – I live eight miles from the track – I’m just super proud. My team did an incredible job. We did it. We brought it home.”

    “When that win light came on, I was like, ‘Man, look what this team has come through,’” Brown said. “Starting with ‘Big C’ Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, and Brad Mason, all of our guys put that work in to get those results. That’s a testament to all of our guys and gals. My wife and my kids, we’re doing this as a family. It’s everybody involved. We never lost the faith. We never gave up.”

    Unnamed 2
    Antron Brown wins Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery 
  3. Greg Anderson hits milestone victory with 100th Pro Stock win – Just like Ron Capps, after a successful 2021 Pro Stock season, Anderson appeared as though he was well on his way to a 100th career victory at the beginning of the season. The longtime Pro Stocker was close many times this season, most notably at Sonoma and Topeka where he was runner-up. Entering Indianapolis, Anderson was hoping to get the monkey off his back with his Hendrick Cars Chevy Camaro. He qualified No. 1 with a speed of 6.567 and 208.10 mph for the third and 121st time of his career. Anderson was set to face No. 16 qualifier Fernando Cuadra Sr in round 1. He was successful right off the bat after Cuadra Sr fouled too soon and gave Anderson an automatic victory. He then moved on to face Topeka winner Troy Coughlin Jr in the second round. Anderson had the lead by the 330 feet mark and continued down the track with a win of 6.593 and 207.59 mph over Coughlin’s 6.637 and 206.92. With the victory, Anderson would have lane choice in his next opponent Fernando Cuadra Jr. The reaction time of both Cuadra Jr and Anderson was close with Anderson cutting a .019 reaction light and Cuadra Jr a .030 light. But, Anderson won and moved to the 170th final round of his Pro Stock career. His opponent in the final round? Dallas Glenn who won over Kenny Delco, Kyle Koretsky, and Erica Enders. When Anderson and Glenn came to the starting line, Glenn left too soon, which gave Anderson his 100th career Wally and the seventh U.S. Nationals victory. The victory also marked the first win of the 2022 season.

    “It’s incredible. About three years ago when I was trying to chase down Warren with 97 (wins), I tried not to think about it,” Anderson said about the victory. “I was having too much fun racing, still thinking I could race forever. I don’t think I’m done by any means but I’m definitely closer to the end of my career. It’s hard to come out and compete with these kids so I know my days may be numbered but I’m not done.

    “I got No. 100, but I’m not done,” stated the 61-year-old reigning and five-time world champion. “I’m not going to quit until I can’t get it done anymore. I think it’s wonderful that the class is full of all these young guns coming into it; that’s what it needed. But if it was just the young guns, it might not have the zip that it has now. You still have a couple of the crusty old guys that can compete with these young whippersnappers and win. I think that’s what makes it cool right now, and I’m loving it.

    “This is the best win ever. I can’t thank Ken and Judy Black and the family enough for this opportunity – 100 wins together,” said Anderson, who brought in win No. 175 overall for the KB Racing team. “Thank you Ken, thank you Judy. I love you guys so much; you’ve let me live my dream all these years. Thank you to all our great sponsors, starting with Rick Hendrick and Thank you, Summit Racing Equipment for all the great years, all these wins. Rick Hendrick, you have a pretty cool collection already, but you’ve got another trophy coming. Chevrolet, DENSO, everybody, thank you so much. And how about this crew? That car was badass all day long.”

    Ron capps, antron brown, greg anderson, and matt smith capture the indy win in the nhra camping world drag racing series.
    Greg Anderson wins 100th career Wally


  4. Matt Smith Back In The Winner Circle –  Matt Smith found himself in the winner circle for the 35th time of his illustrious motorcycle career after lasts eliminating Karen Stoffer. Albeit, it wasn’t easy getting there with many round upsets, nobody could stop Smith and Denso bike team. Smith, the King, North Carolina native qualified second with a pass of 6.800 and 201.16 mph to face returning bike member Scotty Pollacheck. The first round was a solid one for Smith and company. He got off the starting line easily and secured the victory over Pollacheck to move him on to round two to once again face another returning class member, Hector Arana Jr. Arana Jr scored his first-round win over Marc Ingwersen. Arana Jr was hoping to be an upset for Smith, but sadly for Arana Jr, he fouled -0.072 too soon, losing the race out to Smith.  the semis, Smith continued his march toward the finals with a round victory over the alligator man Jerry Savoie. Smith outpowered Savoie with a 6.893 to 6.950 to see him in the finals facing Karen Stoffer. As the final round came, Stoffer had been strong in her round competitions eliminating the likes of Joey Gladstone, Ron Tornow, and Steve Johnson for her efforts. But when the Christmas tree dropped to green, Stoffer had trouble keeping her bike from moving toward the center line and this allowed Smith to get away with the victory for his third career Indianapolis win. “We started with the Suzuki on Friday, but I just wasn’t happy with it,” Smith said. “It ran well up to the eight-mile, but I was just frustrated with it. I decided to go with the (EBR) and we had a good bike the rest of the weekend. All in all, I felt it was a great weekend for the bike. I’ve been to the finals a lot of times here and I’m just blessed to have two (Indy) wins. They better watch out for me. We’ve got a good bike and we’re going to defend our championship.”
  5. Rick Ware Racing Comes to NHRA – After being a NASCAR team owner in most recent years, Rick Ware, team owner for Rick Ware Racing has now entered the NHRA competition in Top Fuel competition. In addition to owning an IMSA team, Ware now owns Clay Millican’s dragster when the news was announced earlier in the week. Millican will sport the purple colors that you see in NASCAR. As for Millican and the team’s first outing, he lost out to Doug Kalitta. 
  6. 2023 NHRA Schedule Announced – The 2023 NHRA schedule had already been announced for a portion of the season earlier this summer with Gainesville being the first race of the season, replacing Pomona the site of the Winternationals that normally were held in recent years. However, 2023 sees some of the same tracks on the schedule with one track returning. Route 66 raceway in Joliet, Illinois is returning to the NHRA schedule after a few years away from the sport. The event will be held May 19-21 weekend of next year. Additionally, the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Callout races will return as well with races at Gainesville and Indianapolis. 

NHRA Camping World Series Results 

Top Fuel 

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

Funny Car 

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

Pro Stock 

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

Pro Stock Motorcycle 

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

Up Next: With the regular season now complete, the NHRA Camping World Series will take a week before returning with the annual Countdown to the Championship playoffs beginning in Mohnton, PA for the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, slated for Sept. 15 – Sept. 18 airing on FOX. 

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