Ron Capps and Steve Torrence move closer to NHRA titles
It was the 1,000th event in professional drag racing history, and heading into Sunday’s Dodge // SRT NHRA Nationals elimination races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there seemed to be at least as many point scenarios Championship Funny Car.
But when three of the title contenders lost in the first round, it opened a door that Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon wasted no time crossing.
Capps, who started the weekend one point ahead of Matt Hagan in the championship battle but behind the three-time champion Hagan, three points earlier in the day, lost in the final to Pedregon. But with one race to go, Capps finds himself with an 85 point lead over Pedregon, his closest new pursuer.
“We’re just going to try to keep going,” Capps said before he and Pedregon collapsed in the final. Pedregon crossed the finish line to win with a 4.27 second run at a pedestrian speed of 225.03 mph.
The victory propelled Pedregon into the championship storyline countdown after 16-time champion, 72-year-old Hagan John Force and JR Todd were eliminated in the round of 16.
“When I woke up this morning I wasn’t sure if we were going to skip a few laps,” said Pedregon, the two-time Funny Car champion who came 83 points closer to 2016 title winner Capps ahead of the final. the series in Pomona, Calif., in two weeks.
That’s a lot of points to overcome. But by winning the LVMS on Sunday, Pedregon will at least have a fighting chance in the final race where round wins are worth 30 points instead of the usual 20.
“Pretty weak, to be honest with you,” he said, assessing his championship chances. “But (with bonus points in Pomona) it stays open and we’re back there.”
Torrence extends lead at Top Fuel
There will be even less drama when Top Fuel cars hit the track in California. Steve Torrence (3.717 seconds at 329.50 mph) beat Mike Salinas in the LVMS final, and challenger Britanny Force lost a heartbeat to Salinas in the semi-final.
“Brittany in the semi-finals was an opportunity we had to capitalize on,” said Torrence after winning his 10th race in 2021 and increasing his lead over Force to 105 points as he nears his fourth consecutive Top Fuel crown . “Grubnic (Force Team Leader David) is hammering everyone around right now, but we’re really good at focusing on what’s under our own awning.”
Force, who was the 12th fastest qualifier this season, hurtled down the track with a 3.682-330.39mph pass in her semi-final showdown with Salinas, but was beaten in reaction time ( 0.058 to 0.027) on the start line.
“It’s really frustrating; it was our chance to win a spin on (Torrence), ”said Force, the 2017 Top Fuel champion. “I’m finally catching a good light and we can’t take a break. “
In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson maintained a 32-point championship lead over Erica Enders, who lost to teammate Dallas Green in the final. Steve Johnson beat three riders en route to Pro Stock Motorcycle victory, edging Karen Stoffer on reaction time in the final eliminations.