POMONA, CA – November 10, 2021 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Having already won once at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this year, longtime star Ron Capps will try to do something he’s never done in his impressive career and that’s win the Auto Club NHRA Finals. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series closes out its 2021 campaign at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this weekend and a first-ever win at the traditional finale would ensure Capps would walk away with his second career Funny Car world championship in the loaded Funny Car class.
He currently leads Don Schumacher Racing teammate and defending world champ Matt Hagan by 58 points heading into Pomona, but with the points-and-a-half scenario in place for the Auto Club NHRA Finals, round victories are worth 30 points this weekend. That means Capps’ advantage is less than two rounds heading into Pomona, putting a major must-see spotlight on the Funny Car championship race. For a driver who’s done it all, including winning twice this year — with one of them coming in Pomona in mid-summer — and claiming a world championship in 2016, a World Finals victory would be the perfect capper to 2021 in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
“One thing I’ve known is ‘Guido’ (co-crew chief Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen have always done well at the World Finals, so I’m leaning on that and hoping it continues,” Capps said. “I’ve never closed the deal at the season-ending race, so that would be especially big to do it this weekend. The championship is looming and we’re going to keep trying to do what we’ve done all year. We have to approach it like normal, but this would mean the world to win another championship. It’s been a really crazy year in Funny Car and whoever wins this year, they will definitely have earned it.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Jianna Salinas (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the most recent Auto Club NHRA Finals, which took place in 2019. This year’s event will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live final eliminations coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the last of seven races in the Countdown to the Championship in Top Fuel and Funny Car, and Capps knows nothing is even close to being decided in a class that’s featured a remarkable number of lead changes this year.
Capps has led at four different times this season, recapturing the points lead in Bristol and holding it for back-to-back races for the first time this year thanks to his runner-up in Las Vegas. But with the wild nature of the class in 2021, nothing is guaranteed in Funny Car and Capps knows he has work to do. Along with Hagan, Capps will also have to hold off the likes of Cruz Pedregon, who won in Vegas to get within 83 points of Capps, J.R. Todd, who is 138 points back, John Force, Bob Tasca III, Robert Hight, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson. It’s a loaded group in the class, but Capps can rely on a consistent approach that’s served him well throughout the season.
“I definitely attribute the position we’re in to the consistency we’ve had all year,” said Capps, who has 68 career wins. “We’ve been very consistent in qualifying and on raceday and it’s been fun to navigate where we’re at right now. This has been one of the most closely-matched years we’ve ever had in Funny Car, so it’s definitely been an interesting year, but I’ve been through a lot of championship chases. It seems like it’s going to come down to the last day of the last race to win a championship, so it’s going to be exciting.”
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence is on the cusp of continuing his incredible run of dominance. He currently leads 2017 world champ Brittany Force by 105 points heading into Pomona, putting him in a prime position to clinch a fourth straight world title. The dominant Texan picked up his 50th career Top Fuel victory with his win in Las Vegas in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster, putting him a step closer to yet another world championship.
Torrence, though, isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the weekend. He still has to race against the likes of Bristol winner Mike Salinas, who has advanced to two straight finals to close the season, second-year star Justin Ashley, Leah Pruett, who won in Pomona this summer, Antron Brown and Clay Millican, but Torrence is confident his team will be ready to get the job done. Force is certainly capable of a massive weekend, but she’ll need considerable help to get past Torrence, even with points-and-a-half in Pomona. Torrence, though, doesn’t plan on changing a thing during a season where he’s won 10 races.
“We’re not going to do anything different,” Torrence said. “We’re just going to go out there and try to win the race. To have the success we’ve had, I can’t believe it. I’m just the guy that gets to sit in the seat and drive the best race car on the property. I’m humbled to be able to do it and our group of guys, we’ve been together since 2013 and that’s been the key to our success.”
Both Greg Anderson and Erica Enders are in a heated battle for a fifth world championship in Pro Stock heading into Pomona. Anderson currently holds a 32-point lead over Enders, and both drivers have enjoyed tremendous success at the facility. Others to watch include rookie Dallas Glenn, who is 109 points out of first, Kyle Koretsky, Aaron Stanfield and Troy Coughlin Jr.
Steve Johnson’s bid for a first world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle will come down to Pomona. He currently trails defending world champ Matt Smith by 20 points heading into the finale, with Angelle Sampey just 30 points back in what will be a thrilling duel this weekend.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. Following nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, there will be a special and thrilling hot rod cacklefest celebration on the return road that fans won’t want to miss. After nitro qualifying on both days, fans can also see exciting wheelstander exhibitions from the “Little Red Fire Truck” and “Walking Tall” P.T. Cruiser.
As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 3:00 p.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 12 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, Nov. 14.
Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) includes qualifying action from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, with live action during eliminations to follow from 4:00-7:00 p.m. ET.
To purchase general admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. With over 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association