Ron Capps has won 68 times in the Funny Car class, but this was his first win as team owner
Brittany Force held off a trio of multi-time champions to capture her first victory of the season
Erica Enders’ Pro Stock triumph made her the winningest driver in any class at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Declaring, “Dreams are made, man. This is America,” Funny Car’s No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps celebrated his first victory in his dual role as driver and team owner Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
An emotional Capps cradled his bronze “Wally” trophy and fought back tears, coached himself through his post-race interview: “I’ve got to get through this.
“To get this win as a first-time owner . . . I feel like I’ve won a championship,” the two-time and reigning class titlist said. “It’s incredible to have a dream so long as a kid and to be standing here as a team owner in the NHRA, representing such great sponsors. I don’t even know what to say.”
Capps looked at his trophy and said, “I don’t deserve this.” He credited his crew, his family, his NAPA Auto Parts sponsors, and a special couple – Tony and Gail Wilson who traveled to Las Vegas from Oregon, where they have been NAPA store owners for 35 years. “He’s battling cancer,” Capps said of Tony Wilson. “He can’t even eat, but he came to this race.”
The victory was Capps’69th overall (68th in Funny Car after one in Top Fuel), and it came in his second final-round appearance in the season’s four races so far.
Phoenix runner-up and Gatornationals winner Matt Hagan, hoping to score back-to-back victories for Tony Stewart Racing, was runner-up again Sunday. Two-time 2022 winner Robert Hight and Alexis De Joria also were finalists.
Brittany Force Prevails in Top Fuel
Brittany Force leaped from her Monster Energy Dragster after winning the Top Fuel final round and said, “This is huge for our team. Man, that was a killer run.”
Call it a giant-killer run.
In a final-round quad that represented 16 championships, including the past eight, Force held off Steve Torrence, the master of four-wide racing. Her winning 3.718-second, 338.00-mph performance was the quickest and fastest of the meet, and her speed was the second-best in Top Fuel history. She owns all but two of the top 12 speeds on record. For the fourth straight event this year, she clocked the fastest speed in the class on this same track where she set the national speed record (338.17) in the fall of 2019.
Force gave the Top Fuel class its fourth different winner this season, joining Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas, and Tripp Tatum on the list.
For the third time in a single day, Force had to race Torrence, who had won six of the past seven four-wide races overall and two of the previous three four-wide races at Las Vegas.
It’s no secret that Torrence, Tony Schumacher, and Antron Brown, with a combined 15 titles and in succession have dominated the better part of the past two decades, haven’t gotten much traction in 2022. But they ended up in the final quad with Force, and she claimed her 12th victory and second in four-wide format but first at The Strip.
Schumacher finished third in the final and Brown fourth. Both were seeking their first four-wide success.
Torrence, in the Capco Dragster, has won four straight at zMAX Dragway at Concord, N.C. (the birth of the four-wide format in 2010). He’s the only driver in a four-wheeled category to win more than twice in four-lane competition. What’s more, he has earned at least one victory from each of the four lanes. So Force’s feat was extra-distinct.
After a stop April 22-24 at Houston for the final SpringNationals before the racetrack is plowed under, the Camping World Drag Racing Series will return to four-wide racing April 29-May 1 at zMAX Dragway.
Erica Enders Is Tops in Pro Stock
Pro Stock winner Erica Enders became the most successful driver in any professional class at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as she breezed past runner-up Cristian Cuadra, one of her Elite Performance Motorsports teammates, to her second victory in four events so far this campaign.
This was Enders’ ninth triumph at Las Vegas, her third overall at this event but second in four-wide format in successive visits. She broke a tie (at eight victories) with Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel).
“Vegas has always been so wonderful to me,” she said. “Our Elite team lost one of the best guys on the planet this last week, “Scotty O” [Scott Oksas, a West Coast Pro Mod racer, who passed away March 28]. We’re doing this for his kids, Joey and Anthony.”
Also in her final-round quad were Dallas Glenn and Mason McGaha.
Lucas Oil Series Quartet Races For $4,000 Bet
Not everyone will be pleased with NHRA President Glen Cromwell’s recent admission to Autoweek that the sanctioning body is exploring the idea of partnering with a sports betting company. But plenty of fans like the idea. And they include Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster drivers Sean Bellemeur, Doug Gordon, Chris Marshall, and Shane Westerfield.
The four composed the final quartet of drivers to make qualifying runs in their class Saturday. And they decided to spice things up by making a friendly wager. Each contributed $1,000.
Although racers don’t compete with each other officially during qualifying – they compete only with their own potential and the scoreboard in their respective lanes – this time they wanted to be the first one to turn on the win light. The $4,000 prize went to the driver who got to the finish line first, regardless of what their elapsed times were. (With reaction times figured in, it’s possible a driver could have the quicker – or, in four-wide trim, the quickest – elapsed time but not cross the finish line first.)
So the four were simply having some fun among themselves with their winner-take-all wager.
Bellemeur won the loot and said at the top end, “That was awesome. We need to do more of this.” He said he felt the pressure to go for the win light and the money because his car hadn’t been performing the best thus far in qualifying. With his three colleagues standing beside him – and smiling, despite being out a grand apiece – he said, “I hope the NHRA takes a look at this and maybe does some more of this.”
Announcer Joe Castello said on the public-address system that his cell phone “was blowing up” with messages from fans saying they wanted to see more of that, that it was fun.
Bellemeur and the fans just might get their wish – but that’s not a safe bet yet.
Top Fuel’s Justin Ashley Pitches in for Ukraine Relief
Justin Ashley and 75 of his social-media followers have raised $30,000 in donations to the Ukrainian United Nations Crisis Relief Fund during the past two weeks.
The parent company of his primary sponsor Phillips Connect spearheaded the fundraising effort. Phillips Europe, located in Poland, 280 miles from the Ukrainian border, has more than 60 Ukrainian co-workers. The team there is prioritizing relief for their families, including medical supplies, legal support, basic necessities, housing, and more. In addition, the company is extending support for humanitarian efforts to all refugees. To fund their efforts, Phillips created two ways to donate, and they matched all employee donations – as well as the donation Ashley raised through his NHRA promotion.
Each of the 75 donors has his/her name on the front wing of Ashley’s Phillips Connect Dragster powered by Vita C Shot. Through social media posts, Ashley offered the chance for donors to add their name to his 11,000-horsepower race car at the Four-Wide Nationals. The minimum donation was set at $100.
Ashley said, “I was inspired by the passion of Phillips CEO Rob Phillips, who considers everyone who works at Phillips part of his family. I completely agree with Rob when he says when a family needs help, we step up. I am proud to represent Phillips Connect and the entire Phillips family. I want to thank everyone who donated.”
Final Results, Updated Points Standings
NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race is the fourth of 22 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Brittany Force, 3.718 seconds, 338.00 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.756 seconds, 326.71 mph and Tony Schumacher, 4.713 seconds, 169.47 mph and Antron Brown, 5.086 seconds, 154.65 mph;
Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.914, 331.20 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.924, 324.44 and Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.943, 328.94 and Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.954, 321.35;
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.668, 206.32 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.702, 196.13 and Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.684, 205.85 and Dallas Glenn, Camaro, broke;
Top Alcohol Dragster — Joey Severance, 5.277, 274.44 def. Johnny Ahten, 5.244, 278.23 and Chris Demke, 5.302, 272.45 and Jasmine Salinas, 5.337, 258.37;
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.513, 266.85 def. Shane Westerfield, Camaro, 5.525, 265.12 and Nick Januik, Camaro, 5.624, 258.91 and Chris Marshall, Camaro, broke;
Competition Eliminator — Ryan Priddy, Chevy Camaro, 6.603, 199.40 def. Doug Lambeck, Plymouth Sunfire, 8.459, 157.96.
Super Stock — Justin Lamb, Chevy Cobalt, 8.974, 145.74 def. Tony Hewes, Ford Mustang, 9.986, 131.00.
Stock Eliminator — Ryan McClanahan, Chevy Camaro, 8.579, 158.97 def. Doug Lambeck, Camaro, 10.348, 124.75.
Super Comp — Allison McKoane, Dragster, 9.065, 169.83 def. Michael Miller, Dragster, 9.051, 173.03.
Super Gas — Damon Bustamante, Chevy Corvette, 10.074, 158.52 def. Edwin Olpin, Chevy Camaro, 10.059, 165.05.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers — Ed Olpin, Chevy Camaro, 7.094, 187.63 def. Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.270, 184.65.
ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.768, 321.65 and Austin Prock, 3.803, 324.83 def. Jim Maroney, 3.973, 300.73 and Justin Ashley, 9.845, 75.15; Steve Torrence, 3.720, 327.27 and Brittany Force, 3.747, 334.32 def. Josh Hart, 3.798, 326.00 and Cameron Ferre, 5.899, 118.62; Antron Brown, 3.754, 328.86 and Tony Schumacher, 3.880, 310.13 def. Mike Salinas, 3.779, 326.32; Leah Pruett, 3.740, 327.27 and Shawn Langdon, 3.853, 316.01 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.100, 227.80 and Rob Passey, 13.101, 63.28;
SEMIFINALS — Schumacher, 3.733, 314.09 and Brown, 3.749, 320.20 def. Prock, 3.783, 327.59 and Millican, 3.786, 323.89; Force, 3.725, 329.58 and Torrence, 3.744, 328.46 def. Pruett, 3.745, 325.69 and Langdon, 3.884, 294.31;
FINAL –– Force, 3.718, 338.00 def. Torrence, 3.756, 326.71, Schumacher, 4.713, 169.47 and Brown, 5.086, 154.65.
ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.904, 329.99 and Blake Alexander, Ford Mustang, 3.953, 312.57 def. Tony Jurado, Mustang, 4.108, 270.54 and Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.608, 186.41; John Force, Camaro, 3.978, 328.14 and Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.932, 327.43 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.066, 313.00 and Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.343, 206.16; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.970, 268.65 and J.R. Todd, Supra, 4.419, 245.85 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 8.045, 97.06 and Jason Rupert, Mustang, broke; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.929, 323.35 and Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.929, 326.32 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.937, 312.35 and Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.136, 291.07;
SEMIFINALS — Capps, 3.902, 329.91 and Hagan, 3.919, 320.43 def. Todd, 3.936, 326.08 and Tasca III, 3.949, 323.12; Hight, 3.864, 331.77 and DeJoria, 3.936, 318.92 def. Force, 3.983, 318.17 and Alexander, 4.182, 242.23;
FINAL — Capps, 3.914, 331.20 def. Hagan, 3.924, 324.44, Hight, 3.943, 328.94 and DeJoria, 3.954, 321.35.
ROUND ONE — Troy Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.666, 205.82 and Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.667, 206.39 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.728, 205.51 and Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.892, 191.89; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.676, 204.54 and Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.688, 205.91 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.718, 203.68 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 10.445, 86.22; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.688, 205.10 and Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.699, 205.88 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.679, 204.91 and Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.689, 204.94; Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.694, 204.60 and Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.667, 206.07 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.685, 205.26 and Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.693, 203.65;
SEMIFINALS — M. McGaha, 6.711, 205.10 and Glenn, 6.682, 204.76 def. Koretsky, 6.700, 204.98 and Butner, 6.747, 203.40; Enders, 6.684, 206.13 and C. Cuadra, 6.700, 204.29 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.686, 205.38 and Stanfield, 6.714, 204.45;
FINAL — Enders, 6.668, 206.32 def. C. Cuadra, 6.702, 196.13, M. McGaha, 6.684, 205.85 and Glenn, broke.
Updated Points Standings
Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 22nd annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –
1. Steve Torrence, 304; 2. Brittany Force, 300; 3. Mike Salinas, 297; 4. Justin Ashley, 270; 5. Clay Millican, 229; 6. Austin Prock, 198; 7. Tony Schumacher, 192; 8. Josh Hart, 189; 9. Doug Kalitta, 168; 10. Antron Brown, 164.
1. Matt Hagan, 394; 2. Robert Hight, 385; 3. Ron Capps, 354; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 224; 5. John Force, 217; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 207; 7. Bob Tasca III, 193; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 183; 9. J.R. Todd, 170; 10. Chad Green, 163.
1. Aaron Stanfield, 349; 2. Erica Enders, 346; 3. Dallas Glenn, 272; 4. Kyle Koretsky, 271; 5. Mason McGaha, 246; 6. (tie) Greg Anderson, 213; Troy Coughlin Jr., 213; 8. Bo Butner, 195; 9. Cristian Cuadra, 186; 10. Deric Kramer, 176.