Capps, Pruett, Stanfield and Matt Smith win Pomona Nationals

The famous NHRA WinterNationals held in Pomona, California, took place this past weekend thanks to some rescheduling done by NHRA officials and Los Angeles county. The originally scheduled date this past February was postponed due to COVID-19.

When NHRA returned to Pomona, victory lane saw some familiar faces and saw some first-time 2021 winners. Both Don Schumacher Racing drivers, Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Leah Pruett (Top Fuel), grabbed their elusive victories in the finals Sunday afternoon. It was Capps’s 67th win and Pruett’s ninth victory of her career.

Funny Car

Ron Capps began his weekend earning his 29th No. 1 qualifier following the three rounds of qualifying Saturday night. The No. 1 qualifier was his third of the season and his second consecutive qualifier following Sonoma last weekend.

With a run of 3.941 seconds and 321.35 mph, the NAPA Auto Parts driver was squared up with No. 16 qualifier Bobby Bode in the first round. Capps advanced running an ET of 4.020 seconds and 309.77 mph to face Funny Car Championship Points leader Bob Tasca in the second round.

Capps won again over Tasca posting a time of 4.151 seconds and 296.50 mph that would see him in his 107th semi-final appearance racing against NHRA legend John Force. Both drivers got off the starting line, but the semi-final win went to Capps who would face Kalitta Motorsports driver, JR Todd.

Todd had victories over Jeff Diehl, Robert Hight and Jim Campbell which set him up for a match-up with Capps.

Todd got off the staging lane first before Capps in the finals, but Capps rallied ahead of Todd just barely for the victory as the cylinders began to go out on the NAPA Auto Parts/Gearwrench Dodge.

“I was hoping a win was coming,” Capps said. “This team, time and time again, they’ve given me one of the coolest cars to drive and this (weekend) was one of the most extreme conditions we’ve ever had. To do it at Pomona in the summer, with all my friends and family here, I can’t even tell you how amazing it is. We’re going to have a blast (celebrating).”

Todd’s runner-up finish was the 19th of his Funny Car career.

“We didn’t run spectacular, but we ran good enough to get to the final,” said Todd. “We had a problem dropping cylinders today and that’s what cost us in the final. I’m just glad to get there. The Western Swing was a struggle until we got to Pomona and then the track was real tricky this weekend. So hats off to Todd Smith, Jon Oberhofer and all of the DHL Toyota guys who made it happen today. I just wish we could have gotten a win to finish off the Swing, but all in all, it was a good points day.”

“We did ourselves some good today, so it definitely shows that we’re back in the hunt,” said Todd. “We just need to stay consistent in starts and qualifying, then go to the later rounds on race day. That’s where we’ve been lacking and today we made that up.”

Funny Car Results

  1. Ron Capps
  2. J.R. Todd
  3. Jim Campbell
  4. John Force
  5. Robert Hight
  6. Bob Tasca III
  7. Cruz Pedregon
  8. Alexis DeJoria
  9. Matt Hagan
  10. Bobby Bode
  11. Blake Alexander
  12. Jeff Diehl
  13. Tim Wilkerosn
  14. Paul Lee
  15. Terry Haddock
  16. Jason Rupert

Funny Car Championship Points Standings

  1. Ron Capps, 734 points
  2. Bob Tasca III, -5
  3. John Force, -36
  4. Robert Hight, -37
  5. Matt Hagan, -45
  6. J.R. Todd, -57
  7. Alexis DeJoria, -102
  8. Tim Wilkerson, -172
  9. Cruz Pedregon, -197
  10. Blake Alexander, -391

Top Fuel

In Top Fuel, the No. 1 qualifier wasn’t Leah Pruett but instead, it went to Brittany Force. Force qualified with a time of 3.714 seconds and 330.72 mph to put her John Force Racing dragster to the top spot. Pruett qualified second after going 3.780 seconds and 321.88 mph.

Pruett faced Steve Chrisman in Round 1 and was victorious, defeating Chrisman with a time of 3.906 seconds and 311.77 mph. She then had a bye run in Round 2 which easily put her into a semi-final match-up with Mike Salinas. The Don Schumacher Racing driver won in the semi-final over Salinas with a time of 3.927 seconds and 311.05 mph. She was originally scheduled to race against Justin Ashley in the finals.

Unfortunately for Ashley, he became ill and heat exhaustion took over prior to getting to the staging lane. Ashley made the decision to step out of his dragster and was unable to compete against Pruett in the finals.

With Ashley out of the car, the finals gave Pruett another bye run and a simple victory that saw Pruett win her first race of the 2021 season.

“This is about the perseverance of this team,” said Pruett, who moved to fourth in Top Fuel points on Sunday. “We’ve had a lot of dedication and to do this at our home track, it’s phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with us and we dug deep. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Wally and today has just been incredible. We’re going to enjoy this.”

Even though Ashley was unable to compete, he says he will be ready to go for Topeka in a couple of weeks.

“These race cars are too powerful to drive if you aren’t 100 percent,” said Ashley, from his hauler after the event. “I was drinking water throughout the day but before the final round I just didn’t feel right. I talked with my crew chief Mike Green and my father (Mike Ashley) and they encouraged me to do what was in my personal best interest. There will be more races and I take this as a learning experience. I congratulate Leah and look forward to racing her in a final very soon.”

“I want to thank the entire racing community and especially my sponsors Smart Sanitizer,, Auto Shocker and KATO Fastening Systems for the outpouring of support I received today,” added Ashley. “I especially want to thank Tony Stewart and Leah Pruett for their concern and interest in my health. I have known NHRA as my racing family for a long time but today it really showed how special our sport is and I thank everyone that stopped by, texted or posted well wishes on social media. I will be ready to go for Topeka.”

Top Fuel Results

  1. Leah Pruett
  2. Justin Ashley
  3. Antron Brown
  4. Mike Salinas
  5. Clay Millican
  6. Brittany Force
  7. Shawn Langdon
  8. Doug Kalitta
  9. Steven Chrisman
  10. Steve Torrence
  11. Jim Maroney
  12. Brandon Welch
  13. Buddy Hull

Top Fuel Championship Points Standings

  1. Steve Torrence, 1,014 points
  2. Antron Brown, -313
  3. Brittany Force, -389
  4. Leah Pruett, -435
  5. Shawn Langdon, -500
  6. Mike Salinas, -501
  7. Justin Ashley, -548
  8. Doug Kalitta, -560
  9. Billy Torrence, -566
  10. Clay Millican, -611

Note – Steve Torrence has clinched a spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Pro Stock

In the Pro Stock category, the finals saw a veteran facing a youngster who is making a name for himself.

The final round match-up featured veteran and No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson going up against the young Aaron Stanfield. Anderson had a bye run in the first round with victories over Chris McGaha and Kyle Koretsky. Stanfield won against Kenny Delco, Matt Hartford and four-time champion Erica Enders that put him in the final round.

The race was a dead heat, but the victory ultimately went to Stanfield who is now victorious three times against the legendary Anderson.

“I’ve got some great guys working on my hot rod and if I can stay doing my job behind the wheel, I think we’ve got a great shot (to compete for a championship),” Stanfield said. “To win back-to-back races, I couldn’t have dreamed of this. It’s cool to race against Greg and that milestone he’s trying to accomplish, but I’m glad we got him stopped today.”

Anderson had to settle for his 67th runner-up finish.

I”t’s everybody that works on this KB Racing team and all the support we get from the folks at Hendrick, Summit and Chevy,” Anderson said about the runner-up finish. “Can’t thank them enough. I’ve got a great car, but I need to win more, no question about that. I’ve got an opportunity to win at every race I go to, and that’s something you don’t get every year. I expect I’ll have that the rest of the year, but I still have to make it pay off, I have to get the job done on Sunday. Even though I’ve had these No. 1 qualifiers, we’re talking about a half a hundredth (of a second) or a few thousandths; it’s not a huge gap. Anyone can win, and it all comes down to that starting line and how good a job the guys do with the car on Sunday. Out of the 16 cars, legitimately 14 to 16 of them can win, and every round is like the final round anymore, and anybody can beat anybody. So that’s great, the class is fantastic. It makes it hard to win. And I feel great that I’ve got a great car, but you have to have everything else perfect, too; the driver’s got to be perfect, the car’s got to be perfect, and the engine’s got to be perfect, too.”

Pro Stock Results

  1. Aaron Stanfield
  2. Greg Anderson
  3. Erica Enders
  4. Kyle Koretsky
  5. Troy Coughlin Jr
  6. Aaron Strong
  7. Chris McGaha
  8. Matt Hartford
  9. Dallas Glenn
  10. Val Smeland
  11. Kenny Delco
  12. Alan Prusiensky
  13. Deric Kramer
  14. Rob Tucker
  15. Mason McGaha

Pro Stock Championship Points Standings

  1. Greg Anderson, 832 points
  2. Aaron Stanfield, -147
  3. Erica Enders, -184
  4. Matt Hartford, -266
  5. Dallas Glenn, -308
  6. Kyle Koretsky, -311
  7. Mason McGaha, -314
  8. Troy Coughlin Jr, -344
  9. Deric Kramer, -345
  10. Chris McGaha, -475

Note – Following today’s race, Greg Anderson clinched a spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Despite losing out last week in Sonoma in the second round, Matt Smith returned to victory lane for the fourth time this season in just eight races and the 30th of his career.

Smith qualified No. 1 for the third time in 2021 and the 46th of his career by posting an ET of 6.760 seconds and 201.91 mph. He ended up having a bye run in Round 1 but wound up facing his wife Angie Smith in the second round. He was victorious there as he went 6.838 seconds and 199.82 mph to advance to the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, Smith faced Scotty Pollacheck and emerged to the finals after going 6.919 seconds and 197.31 mph to face Angelle Sampey.

Sampey was set to face James Underdahl in the first round but had a bye run instead that easily put her in the second round. She won over Joey Gladstone in Round 2 and Eddie Krawiec in the semis for her 75th final round appearance.

The victory went to Smith who posted an ET of 6.828 seconds and 199.52 mph over Sampey’s 6.911 seconds and 173.96 mph run.

“It was hot out there and that was the biggest thing, just fighting the track with it being this hot,” said Smith, who now has 30 career wins. “But we got it done, qualified No. 1 and were almost low every round. I knew what we had to do in the final and we laid down a great run (in the final). I can’t say enough about the people who help us. We’ve got a great team.”

Sampey finished second and was given her 32nd runner-up finish of her career.

Note – Matt Smith is now in the Countdown to the Championship after clinching a spot following today’s event.

Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

  1. Matt Smith
  2. Angelle Sampey
  3. Eddie Krawiec
  4. Scotty Pollacheck
  5. Angie Smith
  6. Jerry Savoie
  7. Joey Gladstone
  8. Freddie Camarena
  9. Karen Stoffer
  10. Ryan Oehler
  11. Steve Johnson
  12. Jianna Salinas
  13. Cory Reed
  14. Andrew Hines
  15. Jim Underdahl

Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship Points Standings

  1. Matt Smith, 813 points
  2. Steve Johnson, -262
  3. Scotty Pollacheck, -322
  4. Angelle Sampey, -370
  5. Ryan Oehler, -372
  6. Angie Smith, -384
  7. Karen Stoffer, -385
  8. Eddie Krawiec, -404
  9. Joey Gladstone, -424
  10. Andrew Hines, -432

Up Next: 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.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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