Defending Funny Car world champion Ron Capps made the most of his final pass of the day, vaulting to the No. 1 spot on Saturday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) also qualified No. 1 at the fourth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Capps closed out qualifying with an impressive blast of 3.883-seconds at 331.45 mph in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car, racing past longtime rival John Force and claiming his second No. 1 qualifier of the season. It is the 31st career No. 1 position for Capps, who is the two-time world champ and is also after his sixth career Las Vegas win. His first-round quad will also consist of Jason Rupert, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd as Capps seeks his first win of the 2022 season and the first since becoming a team owner this year.
“I just thought with the heat and the track temperature there’s no way it’s going to stick,” Capps said. “You know when a run’s really hauling the mail and you kind of calculate in your head knowing how hot it is out, how hot the track temp is, and in your head, you just know there’s no way it’s going to make it. So, I didn’t think it would run that good, honestly, but I knew we were shooting for No. 1. This race has kind of turned into a home race for us and to throw out a 3.883 in that heat was stunning. I can’t say enough about (crew chiefs) Guido (Dean Antonelli) and Medlen, and these No. 1 qualifiers mean so much, especially as a team owner now.”
Force, the provisional No. 1 qualifier with his run of 3.887 327.90, was bumped to second, while Blake Alexander, the runner-up in Gainesville, is third with his run of 3.913 at 324.51.
Salinas, the Top Fuel points leader, also took advantage of the good conditions to close out qualifying, powering to his first No. 1 position of the year with a stellar run of 3.722 at 324.59 in his 11,000-horsepower Adams Pool Group/Scrappers Racing dragster. The top position in the class changed hands in each of the four qualifying sessions in Las Vegas, with Brittany Force grabbing it after the first session on Saturday. But Salinas answered back with a strong run to finish the day, earning his ninth No. 1 in the process. Salinas, who won the four-wide race in Las Vegas in 2019 for his first Top Fuel victory, will open race day against Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher.
“We’re having fun,” said Salinas, who has one victory this season. “The last couple of years have been good, but it got us to where we’re at now. We’ve all matured, and the crew is amazing here. They know their job. We don’t have to worry about the car not being ready and prepared and if you have you, that’s 95-98 percent of the deal. The main thing is everybody’s having fun. If you come to our pit, it’s calm, it’s relaxed, and it’s ‘let’s go win races.’ We know we have a fast car, and we know tomorrow it’s going to be cool and there’s going to be some .70 runs and maybe some .69s. It’s race day, and everybody’s going to try to outdo each other.”
Force got bumped to the second spot, but still impressed with her 3.735 at 324.20 to open the day on Saturday. Friday’s provisional No. 1 qualifier Leah Pruett finished third in qualifying with a 3.741 at 326.79 but added a pair of solid passes on Saturday to give her plenty of momentum going into raceday.
Stanfield’s strong pass of 6.642 at 206.42 from Friday held up, as the Pro Stock points leader claimed the top spot in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro and secured a second straight No. 1 position. Stanfield, who now has three career No. 1 qualifiers, made a pair of quality runs on Saturday as the young standout aims to pick up his first four-wide victory, first Pro Stock win in Las Vegas and his second victory during the 2022 season. He’ll open eliminations in a first-round quad that also features Cristian Cuadra, Matt Hartford, and rookie Camrie Caruso.
“We definitely want to take advantage of the fast hot rod we’ve got now,” said Stanfield, who has five career wins. “It’s important for us to go out and win some rounds tomorrow. Things got a little rough for us during Q3, but we came back and made a strong run in Q4 and that sets us up for tomorrow. I’d love to win a four-wide race. You need to really be focused on the starting line. As a driver, you want to be able to show you can get it done under any circumstances.”
NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Qualifying Results, Elimination Pairings
Top Fuel — 1. Mike Salinas, 3.722 seconds, 328.70 mph vs. Bye vs. vs. 8. Antron Brown, 3.762, 325.85 vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.794, 318.47; 2. Brittany Force, 3.735, 329.50 vs. 15. Cameron Ferre, 6.055, 105.85 vs. 7. Steve Torrence, 3.761, 324.83 vs. 10. Josh Hart, 3.806, 315.64; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.741, 328.06 vs. 14. Rob Passey, 4.075, 288.39 vs. 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.759, 325.37 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, 3.808, 317.87; 4. Justin Ashley, 3.748, 330.55 vs. 13. Jim Maroney, 3.963, 308.99 vs. 5. Clay Millican, 3.757, 327.35 vs. 12. Austin Prock, 3.918, 314.39.
Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.883, 331.45 vs. 16. Jason Rupert, Ford Mustang, 4.076, 310.13; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.887, 327.90 vs. 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.054, 315.19; 3. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.913, 324.51 vs. 14. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.051, 310.34; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.920, 332.92 vs. 13. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.046, 314.53; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.921, 331.04 vs. 12. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.040, 292.77; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.923, 325.14 vs. 11. Tony Jurado, Mustang, 4.037, 315.78; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.926, 321.96 vs. 10. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.958, 323.74; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.941, 320.43 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.943, 327.27.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Steven Densham, 4.216, 267.69; 18. Terry Haddock, 11.755, 74.51.
Pro Stock — 1. Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.642, 206.42 vs. 16. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.741, 203.98 vs. 8. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.681, 205.66 vs. 9. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.691, 205.76; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.651, 205.88 vs. 15. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.733, 204.82 vs. 7. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.681, 205.94 vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.693, 205.76; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.662, 205.57 vs. 14. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.719, 205.54 vs. 6. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.670, 205.82 vs. 11. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.697, 204.66; 4. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.664, 206.04 vs. 13. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.714, 205.69 vs. 5. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.667, 206.01 vs. 12. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.710, 204.39.
Did Not Qualify: 17. John Cerbone, 6.743, 203.55; 18. Rodger Brogdon, 6.876, 202.76.