In a star-studded final round featuring the last eight Top Fuel world champions, it was Brittany Force who powered to the win, claiming an impressive victory on Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also won at the fourth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
In a championship quad that also included four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown, Force went 3.718s at 338.00mph in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster to pick up her first win this season and 12th in her career. Force, who finished second in the opening round quad and won in the second round, also picked up her first four-wide victory in Vegas and became the fourth different winner in four races in Top Fuel. Combined, the four drivers in the final round have claimed 16 world titles, but it was Force, the 2017 world champ, who drove off with the win.
“This is huge for our team,” said Force, who moved to second in the loaded Top Fuel category. “It was not easy out there and we faced tough competition all day, but we’re excited to get a win like this. You look at that final quad and to get win — that’s really something to be proud of. It puts a fire under us and getting in that winner’s circle — there’s no better feeling than that. It’s been a little bit of a tough start for us, but coming into the season I knew it was going to be the toughest year yet in this class. I see a great future ahead with this team. It’s a great group and the hardest bunch of workers I’ve been around and I’m so proud of our guys.”
Torrence finished as the runner-up, taking over the points lead in the process. He won his opening-round quad and finished second to Force in the second round to advance to the championship round. All four drivers in the final round were making their first finals appearance in 2022.
It was a monumental day for Capps in Funny Car, as the defending world champ and longtime standout claimed his first victory since becoming a team owner this year, claiming the win with a stellar run of 3.914s at 331.20mph in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car. It gave the two-time world champ his sixth victory at Las Vegas, tying him for the most in Funny Car history and the 69th in his career. Capps, who was also the No. 1 qualifier, finished off a spectacular weekend in Vegas by taking the win in all three rounds. The last, of course, was the sweetest, as he drove past Matt Hagan, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria who made her first final of the year. Capps had a strong light and then finished it off to get one of the biggest wins in his incredible career.
“I was just trying not to make mistakes because every quad was nuts,” Capps said. “You look across the board and there’s so many good drivers, but I knew we had a car capable of winning. We had everything we needed to have success, but I didn’t know when [a win] was going to happen. I knew we were going to have to earn it, but I just love everything about how we’re building this team. This is like my first win, and I feel like I’m living a lifelong dream. Every bit of my life has been part of drag racing and to have [a Wally] as an owner — it’s just crazy.”
Hagan advanced to his second straight final round and also took over the points lead from Hight with his 74th final round appearance. He won his opening-round quad and finished second to Capps a round later to advance to the final. It was the third final round this season for Hight.
Enders secured her second win this season in Pro Stock and 35th in her career, outlasting a trio of young standouts with a strong run of 6.668s at 206.32mph in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the final round. It was also a historic victory for Enders, as her ninth win in Vegas gives the four-time champ the most of any driver in NHRA history at the facility. In knocking off Cristian Cuadra, Dallas Glenn and Mason McGaha in the final round, Enders bounced back from a disappointing first-round holeshot loss in Gainesville when she made the quickest run in Pro Stock history and won the four-wide race in Las Vegas for the second straight year. It also guarantees a fourth straight year where she’s won a race at the track.
“I’m not much of a gambler, but I love coming to Las Vegas to drag race,” Enders said. “I feel like we’ve got a really great tune-up here, so I give a lot of credit to my guys. There’s a lot of moving parts and it takes a lot of determination and focus, but it was a really good day. I knew I had to be on my game, and we laid down a stellar number in the final round. It definitely means a lot and these four-wide races are always challenging, so I’m really proud of my team. My first win at Elite came here and it’s been quite the ride since. I’m just proud to be their driver.”
Cuadra earned his first career runner-up on the strength of a triple holeshot victory in the first round. He went .001s on the starting line to open the day and added a .006s a round later to advance to the final quad, where he also had a stellar .005s reaction time. Gainesville winner Glenn and McGaha, who had a double holeshot in the opening quad and went .001s on the starting line in the second round, also advanced to the final quad.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action April 22-24 for the NHRA SpringNationals and the final NHRA race at Houston Raceway Park.