The cream rises to the top at Pomona as Capps, S.Torrence, Anderson, M. Smith take championship titles

There were many possible scenarios to be played out Sunday at Auto Club Dragway in Pomona, California as championship titles were on the line for the NHRA Camping Drag Racing Series.

But when all was said and done, the cream rose to the top. Ron Capps, Steve Torrence, Greg Anderson, and Matt Smith each prevailed to win the championships in their respective classes.

Funny Car

Entering with a 58-point lead over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, Ron Capps knew he only had one job to do – go all the rounds, gain the bonus in qualifying and defeat his teammate, Hagan, to win championship No. 2. For the most part, Capps did just that. He gained bonus points throughout each of the three qualifying sessions and ended up qualifying second for a first-round match with Terry Haddock. In order to collect the championship, Capps would have to win the first round with Hagan losing in his respective matchup. If Hagan and Capps both won their first-round matchups, then Hagan needed to win the event in order to become a four-time champ.

Well, the latter almost happened as Capps secured his first-round win over Haddock after powering to a time of 3.908 seconds and 325.06 mph. Then, Hagan also got the first-round victory over Tony Jurado. This meant that Hagan and Capps would square off against each other in the quarterfinal. Capps lose to Hagan’s time of 3.948 seconds and 322.34 mph to Capps 3.995 seconds and 319.45 mph. Now, all Capps could do was sit and watch and hope that Hagan would not win the event.

Bristol winner Alexis DeJoria would determine Capps fate, as she had victories over Bobby Bode in Round 1 and Tim Wilkerson in the second round. With the second-round victory, she met Matt Hagan in the semi-finals. When Hagan and DeJoria left the finish line, the two were in a dead heat drag race before DeJoria pulled away and ultimately gave Ron Capps his second Funny Car championship and his first since 2016.

“I can’t even believe that just happened,” said an emotional Capps after watching the Hagan/DeJoria semifinal round as a spectator from the starting line. “That entire Hagan team with (crew chief) Dickie Venables is incredible. I expected them to go win the race. I don’t know what to say. I’m just shaking right now. It was a close race between us in round two, but then I had to stand behind his car during the semis and wait to see how it played out. I remember being in the Pomona Raceway grandstand as a kid and watching guys like Joe Amato and Gary Ormsby line up in the final round years ago here, and to be doing this myself and to now have a second championship, I can’t say enough.

“This championship is for everyone at Don Schumacher Racing and all of the people from my NAPA AutoCare team. From the front office staff and the hospitality crew who host our NAPA guests, and the fab shop guys who build our chassis, a huge thank you,” said Capps, the second-winningest Funny Car driver of all time with 68 national event triumphs, and now, a two-time world champion (2016, 2021). “This championship is for NAPA AUTO PARTS and the NAPA AutoCare folks, everyone at GearWrench and Pennzoil and Dodge that support us. Thank you to our NHRA fans who cheer us on. I love the passion of our sport.”

56th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery

Race winner, DeJoria, met Bob Tasca III in the finals after Tasca III won over John Force to secure his spot. Tasca III ended a small race winless streak and won for the first time since Atlanta earlier this year and picked up his third victory of the 2021 season.

“I’ve been chasing a Pomona Wally for a long time,” Tasca said. “I remember being out here as a kid with my dad and I’ve always wanted to win here. It’s just a special day for my family, for sure. I just knew we were going to have a great weekend and we’ve got a great team. Everyone’s coming back next year and it was a fun way to end the year.”

Funny Car Results

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

Funny Car Championship Final Standings

  1. Ron Capps, 2,676 points
  2. Matt Hagan, -37
  3. Bob Tasca III, -90
  4. Cruz Pedregon, -121
  5. John Force, -133
  6. Alexis DeJoria, -150
  7. J.R. Todd, -178
  8. Robert Hight, -198
  9. Tim Wilkerson, -315
  10. Jim Campbell, -438

Top Fuel

Brittany Force was a longshot coming into the Top Fuel championship, but she knew that she still had a chance to put a hamper on Steve Torrence’s title reign, despite a 105 margin. However, in order for Force to win the title, she needed Torrence to lose in the first round and she needed to win the entire event.

Torrence qualified second with a time of 3.698 seconds and 317.05 mph and Force was 13th on the board with her time of 3.784 seconds and 328.30 mph. When race day came, Torrence had one job to do. He had to win the first round in order to become a four-time Top Fuel champion and eliminate Force’s hopes of earning her second title. During Torrence’s first-round match, he faced the No. 15 qualifier, Brandon Welch. Once the Christmas tree went green, Torrence powered to a victory over Welch and secured his fourth career Top Fuel championship and eliminating Force’s chances at the title.

However, Torrence didn’t stop there, as he went on to win the race with victories over Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals, Cameron Ferre in the semis and Don Schumacher’s Antron Brown in the final to gain career win No. 51 and a dominating 11th win of the 2021 season.

“These Capco boys are amazing,” Torrence said of a crew led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. “It wasn’t always pretty today, but we just kept grinding and somehow we managed to find a way to win. Thanks to all the Capco employees who
stand up, stand tall and stand with us every day. To be out here with my mom, my dad, my wife Natalie and my little girl, I am
truly blessed to be able to do what I do. This is a great sport, a family sport and I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

By winning his fourth championship, Torrence has joined an exclusive club with Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, John Force, Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein to win four straight championships. In addition, the Kilgore, Texas native also joined Pro Stocks Bob Glidden and Lee Shepherd.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Rebilas

For the runner-up, it was a bittersweet day for Antron Brown as after this race, he will hang his driver helmet and become a team owner in 2022 for the newly Antron Brown Racing team. Brown was victorious over Justin Ashley, Billy Torrence, and Tripp Tatum in the semis. He came up short in the finals hoping to give Don Schumacher another Top Fuel victory. Brown leaves with 58 runner-up finishes of his career.

“We had a great day here at Pomona. We wanted to end the season out with a win for all of our Matco Tools distributors and our partners who support us like Toyota and SiriusXM and Hangsterfers. At the end of the day, we’ll lick our wounds from this season and get right for ’22. When you drop a hole around 300-feet, it’s hard to stay in front of that Capco car. They won another race and a fourth championship. That’s a great accomplishment and hats off to those Capco boys. It’s time for us to get to work and come out strong in February of ’22.”

Top Fuel Results

  1. Steve Torrence
  2. Antron Brown
  3. Cameron Ferre
  4. Tripp Tatum
  5. Billy Torrence
  6. Doug Kalitta
  7. Clay Millican
  8. Mike Salinas
  9. Justin Ashley
  10. Alex Laughlin
  11. Brandon Welch
  12. Steve Chrisman
  13. Josh Hart
  14. Shawn Langdon
  15. Leah Pruett
  16. Brittany Force

Top Fuel Championship Final Standings

  1. Steve Torrence, 2,873 points
  2. Brittany Force, -236
  3. Mike Salinas, -254
  4. Justin Ashley, -317
  5. Billy Torrence, -375
  6. Antron Brown, -446
  7. Leah Pruett, -472
  8. Clay Millican, -489
  9. Shawn Langdon, -563
  10. Doug Kalitta, -583

Pro Stock

One week after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Championship back in Phoenix, Arizona, NASCAR Team Owner, Rick Hendrick hoped to bring home another title, but this time in the Pro Stock category. Greg Anderson was seeking his fifth championship, while Erica Enders was looking for her fifth championship as well.

Anderson started the weekend off well by earning the No. 1 qualifier Saturday night and a first-round match with No. 16, John Callahan. Enders was fifth in the charts and faced No. 12, Steve Graham, in the first round.

Anderson and Enders won their respective first-round matchups and went to the quarterfinals where Anderson would face Deric Kramer and Enders would go up against Matt Hartford. If both Anderson and Enders won their quarterfinals matches, they would face each other in the semis. The championship scenario was simple. If Anderson won over Enders, Anderson would become champ, if Enders won over Anderson, she was champion.

Unfortunately for Enders, her Elite Motorsports car went sideways in the right lane after the two left the starting line. All Enders could do was watch Anderson’s car get smaller and smaller and as she ultimately lost to Anderson which gave him his fifth career Pro Stock championship.

However, while Anderson was happy with his fifth career title, he had another task to do and that was to win the race. Anderson met No. 2 qualifier Kyle Koretsky in the finals after Koretsky had victories over Troy Coughlin Jr, Aaron Stanfield, and Dallas Glenn.

Both Pro Stock cars rocketed off the line, but when the two got down the track, the victory went to Anderson who picked up his 99th career victory and the fifth of the season.

Photo Courtesy of KB Racing

“This HendrickCars.com Chevrolet is the meanest racecar I’ve ever had in all the years I’ve raced,” said Anderson, who won his first national event in 2001 and earned four previous championships in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. “Right off the trailer, it was fantastic, and it never skipped a beat. I’m very proud of everybody on the KB Racing team and so grateful to our team owners, Ken and Judy Black. We definitely came prepared to race, and it paid off in the best possible way.

“I’m at 99 now – that is pretty doggone incredible,” he marveled. “It’s been a special year, getting to that number and passing my old-time mentor, Warren Johnson. We got 98, then we got 99, now 100 is the goal – and I don’t want to stop there.”

Pro Stock Results

  1. Greg Anderson
  2. Kyle Koretsky
  3. Erica Enders
  4. Dallas Glenn
  5. Mason McGaha
  6. Aaron Stanfield
  7. Deric Kramer
  8. Matt Hartford
  9. Troy Coughlin Jr
  10. Kenny Delco
  11. Alan Prusiensky
  12. John Callahan
  13. Cristian Cuadra
  14. Steve Graham
  15. Chris McGaha
  16. Bo Butner

Pro Stock Championship Final Standings

  1. Greg Anderson, 2,752 points
  2. Erica Enders, -107
  3. Dallas Glenn, -177
  4. Kyle Koretsky, -220
  5. Aaron Stanfield, -336
  6. Troy Coughlin Jr, -359
  7. Mason McGaha, -363
  8. Chris McGaha, -391
  9. Matt Hartford, -399
  10. Deric Kramer, -441

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Matt Smith came to Pomona second in the championship standings, just a few points behind Steve Johnson, going into the final race. However, there was also one other competitor seeking her fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle championship and that was Louisiana’s own, Angelle Sampey, who was third in the standings.

Following qualifying, Smith was second, Johnson was fourth and Sampey was fifth on the speed charts. Smith faced Ryan Oehler in the first round and Johnson would meet Fred Camarena. The Vance and Hines driver, Sampey would face Angie Smith. All three drivers won their races and advanced to the quarterfinals, keeping their title chances alive. By winning her matchup against Angie Smith, Sampey, would face off against Matt Smith in the second round.

As the second round came, Johnson, unfortunately, lost on a holeshot to Eddie Krawiec, ultimately ending his championship chase. In the battle between Matt Smith and Angelle Sampey, Matt Smith was victorious. He became a five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion on a holeshot win after Smith’s reaction time was .040 compared to Sampey’s .094.

The King, North Carolina native went on to win the race after getting a semi-final victory over Krawiec and eliminating Karen Stoffer in the finals to earn his 32nd career victory and the sixth win of the season.

“The goal was to at least get three round wins today,” Smith said. “When we beat Angelle and Steve (Johnson) lost right in front of us, I knew we were champs. Everything worked out for the best. I knew we were going to have a tough race with Karen, but I hit the Tree as hard as I could and had the best light of the weekend for me. We just made it work and performed well on the starting line.”

For Sampey, she registered her third runner-up of the season and 34th of her career.

Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

  1. Matt Smith
  2. Karen Stoffer
  3. Eddie Krawiec
  4. Angelle Sampey
  5. Steve Johnson
  6. Scotty Pollacheck
  7. Chris Bostick
  8. Angie Smith
  9. Freddie Camarena
  10. Andrew Hines
  11. Ryan Oehler
  12. Kelly Clontz

Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship Final Standings

  1. Matt Smith, 2,721 points
  2. Angelle Sampey, -131
  3. Steve Johnson, -135
  4. Eddie Krawiec, -210
  5. Karen Stoffer, -222
  6. Scotty Pollacheck, -314
  7. Angie Smith, -394
  8. Joey Gladstone, -454
  9. Andrew Hines, -462
  10. Ryan Oehler, -491

Up Next: As the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series comes to a close, the teams and drivers will look forward to opening a brand new season next year at the Lucas Oil Winternationals February 17-20 in Pomona, California.



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

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