Ron Capps raced his Dodge Charger R/T to his fourth-consecutive Funny Car victory this season Sunday at the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
Antron Brown in Top Fuel, and 18-year-old rookie sensation Tanner Gray in Pro Stock were also winners in their respective categories at the eighth of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series schedule.
Defending world champion Capps raced to a 3.924-second pass at 321.42 miles per hour to defeat teammate and #1 qualifier, Matt Hagan, in his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Capps is the first driver since Robert Hight in 2012 to have four consecutive wins in a single season.
“I’m just the luckiest dude in the world,” Capps said. “I had nothing to do with it. I just stepped on the gas at the right time and held the car together in the right lane. We’ve won a championship for a reason, and we’ve won four in a row together for a reason. Everyone just gels together.”
Capps battled past Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force, and Hight en route to the finals. Hagan, who set both ends of the national record on Saturday with a pass of 3.802 at 338.85, squared up against Jack Wyatt, J.R. Todd, and teammate Jack Beckman, before falling to Capps in the final round.
Brown Wins Top Fuel
In Top Fuel, three-time and defending world champion Brown raced to his first career victory at Heartland Park Topeka, second of this season and 63rd of his career in his dragster. His pass of 3.709 at 332.75 defeated the losing pass of 3.836 at 256.70 of Steve Torrence in his dragster.
“The competition has been so tight that you have to run these cars on edge every lap,” Brown said. “We kept our head down and stayed poised. We went out there and raced our hearts out. It feels real good to win here at Topeka. I’ve been wanting to win here for so long.”
Before entering the final round, Brown defeated Kebin Kinsley, Shawn Langdon and teammate Leah Pritchett. Torrence piloted his dragster past Mike Salinas, Brittany Force, who set the national speed record of 333.96, and Clay Millican to make it to his fourth final round appearance this season.
Rookie Gray, 18, Nabs Career Win #2
In Pro Stock, Gray clenched the second Wally of his rookie season when Jeg Coughlin Jr. red lit during the final round. Gray powered his Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.580 pass at 210.87.
“I felt like I was pretty consistent all day,” Gray said. “My guys gave me a great racecar. I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for them. They put a lot of hard work into this new car. There’s no doubt we have a championship-caliber team.”
When Gray won at Charlotte in early April just before his 18th birthday, the son of Shane Gray became the youngest-ever winner of an NHRA national event. Check out this video to learn more about the life and racing career of NHRA’s newest young gun.
Gray raced past Drew Skillman, Greg Anderson and Vincent Nobile before entering the final round. Coughlin Jr. defeated Deric Kramer, Alan Johnson, and the #1 qualifier Bo Butner on his way to the finals.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at the NHRA New England Nationals June 2-4 at New England Dragway in Epping, NH.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Bo Butner 670 2. Greg Anderson 646 3. Tanner Gray 610 4. Jeg Coughlin 593 5. Jason Line 576
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Ron Capps 748 2. Matt Hagan 629 3. John Force 524 4. Robert Hight 518 5. Jack Beckman 502
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Leah Pritchett 721 2. Steve Torrence 691 3. Antron Brown 680 4. Tony Schumacher 673 5. Doug Kalitta 539
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Eddie Krawiec 306 2. LE Tonglet 291 3. Andrew Hines 230 4. Jerry Savoie 204 5. Scotty Pollacheck 196
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.