POMONA, CA – November 13, 2022 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Defending Funny Car world champion Ron Capps stayed in the title conversation with a clutch run on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, tying the quickest run in his career to qualify No. 1 at the 57th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 22nd and final event in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the sixth race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Capps went 3.837-seconds at a track-record speed of 337.33 mph in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra, handing the veteran his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 35th in his career. He enters raceday 57 points – or less than two rounds – behind leader Robert Hight, looking to become the first Funny Car driver to win back-to-back championships in 20 years. Capps will take on Jeff Arend in the opening round, with a possible must-see matchup looming in the semifinals against Hight, who qualified fourth with a 3.849 at 334.48.
“This is what I talk about when you get into a race car like this and you wish you could make those big runs at the big moments,” Capps said. “I know we can go out and throw down with the best. It’s a great feeling, so what a way to end qualifying. I got on the radio, and I was screaming and yelling. It was like going down the road to Disneyland and getting on Space Mountain for the first time as a kid.
“It’s a different day tomorrow. (But) I’m going to wake up my motorhome here at trackside and I’m going to have a chance of possibly winning a world championship once again.”
Cruz Pedregon qualified second with a career-best run of 3.840 at 322.58. In fact, Pedregon made the four quickest runs in his career, all in the 3.84 range. Matt Hagan took third with a 3.844 at 323.58 and will head into raceday 62 points behind Hight.
Top Fuel points leader Brittany Force made a pair of strong runs on Saturday, but it was her run of 3.641 at 338.94 from Friday in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster that held up for the No. 1 spot. It gave her the top qualifier for an incredible 10th time this season and 42nd time in her career, as well as plenty of confidence going into a huge, championship-deciding day on Sunday. She’ll open eliminations against Steve Chrisman, holding a 26-point lead over Justin Ashley, who will start raceday on the opposite side of the ladder against contender Antron Brown. That means the standouts could meet in the final round, where it would be winner-take-all as Force is seeking her second world title.
“I feel very good. Going into race day tomorrow, we had four consistent runs,” Force said. “Over the past couple of months, we struggled with those three runs, but we made four solid runs. We got that No. 1 spot, and we picked up some bonus points, so we’re going in tomorrow feeling good.
“When we won the championship in 2017, we came into the race in second place and now we have the lead, so it’s a whole different mindset. I’ve been here before, that gives me a little bit of confidence. We handled it before, it’s familiar territory, and we came out on top. So really, it’s just pulling from past experience. This team is incredible what we’ve done all season long, what we’ve done this weekend, we just need to keep on hitting our numbers.”
Four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence made the best run during the final qualifying session, taking the second spot with a 3.647 at 332.10. He trails Force by 93 points going into eliminations. Mike Salinas, who enters raceday 75 points back, was third with a 3.666 at 331.46. Brown qualified seventh and is 92 points out of first.
Troy Coughlin Jr. made a big move on Saturday, driving to the No. 1 spot for the first time this season with a run of 6.508 at 210.80 in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro. It’s the second career top qualifier for Coughlin, who has enjoyed a breakout season in 2022 with a pair of victories and five appearances in the finals. He’ll open eliminations against Shane Tucker after making the quickest run in each session on Saturday, also looking to end the year on a strong note and possibly finish second in the points standings to his teammate, five-time world champ Erica Enders.
“I made two clean runs today and that’s what counts,” Coughlin said. “It’s special to be racing here in Pomona. There is nothing like pulling through the breezeway in front of the tower and looking down. My hat is off to the guys at Elite Performance. They work hard and with a lot of passion and it shows. This means a ton. I’ve been coming to the races since I could walk and being the low qualifier here is right near the top of the list for my professional career. (But) this class is stacked so you’ve got to execute on race day but I’m ready. I wish I could go out there and make a few more runs right now.”
Greg Anderson will start raceday from the second spot thanks to his run of 6.509 at 211.00 on Friday, while Dallas Glenn is third after going 6.514 at 210.77. Enders, who clinched the world championship in Vegas on the strength of her 10th win this season, will begin eliminations from ninth on Sunday.
Sampey secured her sixth No. 1 of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle thanks to her track-record run of 6.703 at 201.61 from Friday on her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. It gives Sampey her 59th career No. 1 qualifier and the opportunity to finish off her year with a victory. She’s aiming for her second victory of the season, opening eliminations against Katie Justice. Sampey can end the season in the top five with a big performance on Sunday, which would give the three-time world champ plenty of off-season momentum.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow and we’re feeling confident heading into raceday,” Sampey said. “Everyone out here would like to win the final race of the season, so that’s going to be our focus. Tomorrow, our mission is going out here to win the race and end the season on a great note.”
Points leader Matt Smith stayed second with his 6.719 at 202.70, putting him in a great position to clinch his sixth world championship. Smith can earn his second straight world title with a first-round win over Michael Phillips on Sunday. Joey Gladstone took the third spot after a 6.720. Multi-time world champ Eddie Krawiec failed to qualify for the first time in 15 years after struggling during the four sessions.
Eliminations for the Auto Club NHRA Finals being at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
POMONA, CA — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 57th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the final of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.641 seconds, 338.94 mph vs. 16. Steven Chrisman, 3.894, 311.70; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.647, 332.10 vs. 15. Ron August, 3.886, 315.71; 3. Mike Salinas, 3.666, 331.45 vs. 14. Krista Baldwin, 3.863, 306.95; 4. Leah Pruett, 3.669, 329.67 vs. 13. Alex Laughlin, 3.773, 319.14; 5. Austin Prock, 3.689, 330.31 vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, 3.751, 324.59; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.693, 329.42 vs. 11. Josh Hart, 3.712, 311.92; 7. Antron Brown, 3.696, 329.26 vs. 10. Justin Ashley, 3.706, 329.42; 8. Tony Schumacher, 3.701, 331.77 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.705, 331.04.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Maurice Dupont, 4.199, 231.75; 18. Cameron Ferre, 4.409, 177.63.
Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 3.837, 337.33 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.057, 313.44; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.840, 322.58 vs. 15. Jason Rupert, Ford Mustang, 4.030, 313.44; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.844, 323.58 vs. 14. Steven Densham, Mustang, 3.993, 287.05; 4. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.849, 334.48 vs. 13. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.957, 325.30; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.856, 322.65 vs. 12. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.942, 328.22; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.862, 333.00 vs. 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.920, 320.89; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.864, 333.49 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.919, 322.11; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.882, 333.58 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.895, 333.41.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.264, 275.79; 18. Bobby Bode, 4.340, 218.58.
Pro Stock — 1. Troy Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.508, 210.80 vs. 16. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.601, 209.36; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.509, 211.00 vs. 15. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.573, 208.20; 3. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.514, 210.77 vs. 14. Fernando Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.565, 210.34; 4. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.524, 210.41 vs. 13. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.558, 210.73; 5. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.526, 209.20 vs. 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.556, 205.60; 6. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.528, 210.47 vs. 11. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.553, 209.49; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.528, 210.11 vs. 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.549, 209.72; 8. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.530, 210.87 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.540, 210.60.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.609, 208.14; 18. Kenny Delco, 6.625, 208.88.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.703, 201.61 vs. 16. Katie Justice, Suzuki, 7.107, 190.51; 2. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.719, 202.70 vs. 15. Michael Phillips, Buell, 7.097, 191.73; 3. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.720, 267.75 vs. 14. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.937, 200.23; 4. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.734, 201.34 vs. 13. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.924, 196.47; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.761, 198.29 vs. 12. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.909, 192.22; 6. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.792, 197.31 vs. 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.872, 195.45; 7. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.812, 194.69 vs. 10. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.871, 193.85; 8. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.840, 192.93 vs. 9. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.860, 195.00.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Eddie Krawiec, 7.214, 198.88; 18. Jianna Evaristo, 9.398, 93.99.
To purchase tickets to the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.nhra.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admissions areas with a paid adult. For more information about NHRA, visit www.nhra.com.
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Camping World Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lincolnshire, IL, (together with its subsidiaries) is America’s largest retailer of RVs and related products and services. Our vision is to build a long-term legacy business that makes RVing fun and easy, and our Camping World and Good Sam brands have been serving RV consumers since 1966. We strive to build long-term value for our customers, employees, and shareholders by combining a unique and comprehensive assortment of RV products and services with a national network of RV dealerships, service centers and customer support centers along with the industry’s most extensive online presence and a highly trained and knowledgeable team of associates serving our customers, the RV lifestyle, and the communities in which we operate. We also believe that our Good Sam organization and family of programs and services uniquely enable us to connect with our customers as stewards of the RV enthusiast community and the RV lifestyle. With RV sales and service locations in 42 states, Camping World has grown to become the prime destinations for everything RV. For more information, visit www.CampingWorld.com
Headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 22 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, 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 NHRA Street Legal. 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 three racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; 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, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association