Ron Capps powered to the top in Funny Car qualifying on Saturday, earning his second straight No. 1 qualifier during the 61st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the 10th race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the final event of the famed three-race NHRA Western Swing.
In the final qualifying session of the day, Capps went 3.941-seconds at 321.35 mph under the lights in Pomona in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, racing to his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and 29th in his career. The 2016 NHRA Funny Car champion is also after his first win of the 2021 campaign and he will open eliminations against Bobby Bode looking to grab some momentum to close out the Western Swing on a winning note.
“Tomorrow is going to be new territory for a lot of drivers and that sort of makes it exciting,” Capps said. “That run tonight was pretty fun. You really have to be on your game and race the racetrack. It would be fitting to get our first win this year and first as a team at a home track. These are the trophies you want.”
Robert Hight, who won last weekend in Sonoma, qualified second with a 3.953 at 323.27, while Friday’s provisional No. 1 qualifier, Blake Alexander, finished third thanks to his 3.961 at 318.84.
In Top Fuel dragster, Brittany Force put on a show at her home track to close out qualifying, rocketing to a run of 3.714 at 330.72 in her 11,000-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster to qualify No. 1 for the third straight race and fifth time this season. It also gives Force her 25th career top spot as she now focuses on trying to get her first win of the season. To do so, Force will have to be successful in far different conditions on Sunday.
“Another No. 1 qualifier is amazing for this team,” Force said. “We want to be on top, but really our focus is raceday. That’s going to be tough coming off that run where we had great conditions and now we have to turn around and try to figure it out for raceday tomorrow. It’s going to be really hot, but we’re looking for a long day. We want to go all day and end up in that winner’s circle at my home track in Pomona.”
Leah Pruett, who was the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday, dropped to second with her run of 3.780 at 321.88 from Friday, while Mike Salinas qualified third with a 3.790 at 318.09. Points leader Steve Torrence, who has a chance to sweep the Western Swing with a win on Sunday, qualified fourth and will open eliminations against Antron Brown.
There is no stopping Anderson in Pro Stock qualifying this season and that continued in Pomona, as he picked up his eighth No. 1 qualifier in nine Pro Stock in 2021, going 6.586 at 208.42 in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. The points leader improved on his run from Friday in the final qualifying session on Saturday, earning his 114th career No. 1 qualifier. But the real number Anderson is after is his 97th career win, which has eluded him in recent races. He has 12 career wins in Pomona and if he could add to that on Sunday, Anderson would tie Warren Johnson for the most wins in Pro Stock history.
“The important run today was in Q2 when the track was 150 degrees,” Anderson said. “It’s fun racing at night and it’s fun to go fast, but that means nothing for tomorrow. The second run today is going to tell it all. We weren’t quite where we needed to be, but we got the data we needed, so I think we’ll be good. I hope we’ll be good. I need a win and I need a win bad.”
Defending world champ Erica Enders stayed in the second spot with her run of 6.590 at 207.15 from Friday and Matt Hartford qualified third with a 6.593 at 207.82.
Smith lowered the boom to close out Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying, staying on top and qualifying No. 1 with a stellar pass of 6.760 at 201.91 on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/Matt Smith Racing EBR. The run set the new track speed record at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and gave him an even bigger separation between the next-closest competitor, as Smith qualified No. 1 for the third time in 2021 and 46th time in his career. The points leader and defending world champ will look for his second win on the Western Swing on Sunday, and his impressive run to close out qualifying certainly turned heads.
NHRA Qualifying Results, Sunday Elimination Pairings
Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.714 seconds, 330.72 mph vs. Bye; 2. Leah Pruett, 3.780, 321.88 vs. 13. Steven Chrisman, 5.406, 129.70; 3. Mike Salinas, 3.790, 318.09 vs. 12. Brandon Welch, 5.395, 127.85; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.808, 322.27 vs. 11. Antron Brown, 5.255, 138.84; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.854, 292.01 vs. 10. Jim Maroney, 5.109, 141.43; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.855, 311.41 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 4.316, 192.38; 7. Justin Ashley, 3.899, 310.27 vs. 8. Buddy Hull, 4.105, 278.69.
Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.941, 321.35 vs. 16. Bobby Bode, Ford Mustang, 4.682, 184.75; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.953, 323.27 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.619, 205.41; 3. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.961, 318.84 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.340, 216.90; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.967, 317.34 vs. 13. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.313, 243.55; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.009, 312.13 vs. 12. John Force, Camaro, 4.287, 287.90; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.021, 313.73 vs. 11. Jason Rupert, Mustang, 4.269, 289.01; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.044, 322.04 vs. 10. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.259, 272.23; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.045, 311.85 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.226, 225.56.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Steven Densham, 5.781, 221.85; 18. Alex Miladinovich, 6.129, 121.49.
Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.586, 208.42 vs. Bye; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.590, 207.15 vs. 15. Rob Tucker, Dodge Dart, 6.882, 204.94; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.593, 207.82 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.728, 203.58; 4. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.599, 206.29 vs. 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.672, 207.75; 5. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.604, 208.17 vs. 12. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.644, 208.01; 6. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.605, 206.64 vs. 11. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.636, 208.88; 7. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.609, 208.39 vs. 10. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.634, 206.86; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.631, 208.42 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.633, 208.42.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.760, 201.91 vs. Bye; 2. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.830, 197.51 vs. 15. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 8.525, 111.62; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.843, 199.70 vs. 14. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 8.252, 113.02; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.848, 199.55 vs. 13. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 7.032, 193.74; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 196.70 vs. 12. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.017, 192.96; 6. Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.885, 199.52 vs. 11. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.015, 193.32; 7. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.886, 197.19 vs. 10. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 6.988, 191.62; 8. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.899, 195.34 vs. 9. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.901, 195.42.
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