Pruett and Capps Sweep Nitro Classes at Winternationals
Drag racing fans flocked to Auto Club Raceway in Pomona CA for the 61st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. The legendary event is traditionally held in February at the historic track, but Auto Club Raceway was still being used as a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site when the NHRA Camping World Series was scheduled to launch. Both the NHRA and track management continued to work closely with state of California health officials to ensure the event would run as part of this season and before the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
Although the State of Washington loosened its coronavirus restrictions earlier this year, conducting a large event with race fans in the stands was still up in the air. When organizers decided to cancel the Flav-R-Pack NHRA Northwest Nationals that was originally set to run on July 30-Aug 1, the open date was awarded to the Pomona track. Also known as “The Fairplex”, multiple venues reside on the property including the Auto Club Raceway, Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, and Wally Parks NHRA Museum.
Leah Pruett Wins Hometown Race at Auto Club Raceway
A week after losing in the final round at Sonoma (second round of the Western Swing), Leah Pruett led a talented Top Fuel field in qualifying on Friday night at Auto Club Raceway in her Sparkling Ice Spiked Hard Seltzer DSR dragster. As Sunday’s elimination rounds began, Top Fuel points leader and three-time defending world champion Steve Torrence lost his bid for a Sweep of the Swing when his day came to a screeching halt after losing to Antron Brown in the opening round. Pruett eliminated Steve Chrisman, ran a 310-mph pass on a bye, and advanced to the final round with a win over Mike Salinas. On the other side of the ladder, Justin Ashley took out Buddy Hull in the first round before relying on holeshot wins over number one qualifier Brittany Force and Antron Brown. Unfortunately, a day of spectacular Top Fuel racing ended with a lack luster finish. It was Justin Ashley's first final round of the 2021 NHRA Camping World season and only the second of his young career but his bid for win ended in the Southern California heat. Dehydrated and dizzy, Ashley was smartly pulled from his vehicle by his crew while trying to stage for the final.
Ron Capps Wins Nitro Funny Car at Pomona
In Nitro Funny Car, Ron Capps was Number One qualifier and quickly proved he was serious about winning the Lucas Oil Winternationals by eliminating Bobby Bode, Bob Tasca III, and John Force on his way to a final round matchup. On the other side of the ladder, J.R. Todd took out Jeff Diehl in the opening round before a head-to-head matchup against Number Two qualifier Robert Hight. Todd had to eliminate Jim Campbell in the semifinal round to advance to his third final round of the season and the 38th of his career. Driving the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports, Todd was the first African-American to win a World Championship in Funny Car and is one of seventeen drivers to earn Wallys in both Nitro classes. Capps grabbed his first win of the year in his 11,000 horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and his 67th career win. With Pruett’s win, it was the first sweep of the NHRA Nitro classes in 2021 for Don Schumacher Racing.
Heartland Menards NHRA Nationals
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take a week off before heading to Topeka, Kansas August 13-15 for the 32nd annual Heartland Menards Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park.