DSR Pomona 2 Post-Race Recap

NHRA Finals
Event 20 of 20
Countdown Event 7 of 7
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Pomona, Calif.
November 12-14, 2021


DSR NHRA Finals Highlights:
  • Ron Capps named 2021 NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car champion 
  • Capps clinched his second Funny Car title to capture championship No. 19 for Don Schumacher Racing, and the seventh Funny Car title for the winningest organization in NHRA history
  • Matt Hagan advanced to the semifinals and wrapped up the season ranked second in the Funny Car point standings, ensuring DSR finished 1-2 on the leaderboard for the second consecutive year
  • Antron Brown raced to a runner-up finish, and will close out the year ranked in the Top 10 for the 24th consecutive season
  • Leah Pruett earned her sixth consecutive Top 10 finish since joining DSR in 2016 

Ron Capps Crowned 2021 NHRA Funny Car World Champion
Capps Delivers Championship Trophy No. 19 for Don Schumacher Racing

POMONA, Calif. (November 14, 2021) – Don Schumacher Racing driver Ron Capps was crowned the 2021 NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car champion on Sunday during the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. Capps, pilot of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, clinched his second Funny Car title to capture championship trophy No. 19 for Don Schumacher Racing, and the seventh Funny Car title for the winningest organization in NHRA history.
The 2021 Funny Car championship chase came down to an intense intramural battle between Capps and his DSR stablemate, No. 2 ranked Matt Hagan, on the final day of the season. With 187 points up for grabs at the NHRA Finals, Capps began the race weekend with a 58-point advantage – or a two round lead – over his teammate. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team was solid in qualifying with crew chiefs Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and John Medlen tuning Capps’ machine to the best run of Q2 and second-best run of Q1 to bank seven crucial bonus points. Their qualifying performance enabled them to further extend their lead on Hagan’s team to a 67-point margin, which equated to a three round advantage heading into race day.
Once Capps and Hagan successfully defeated their round-one opponents, the stage was set for a thrilling round two showdown between the decorated drivers, with major championship implications on the line. If Capps were to have set off the E2 win lights, it would have immediately guaranteed him the 2021 title. He was first out of the gate against his teammate and held the lead until halftrack when Hagan was able to edge past for the narrow win, putting Capps in a stressful ‘wait and see’ situation where if Hagan were to go on and win the event, he would have been named champion. It was an hour-and-a-half full of angst for Capps in between rounds two and three, but he was able to breathe a tremendous sigh of relief when Alexis DeJoria defeated Hagan in the semifinals, resulting in Capps being awarded with the 2021 championship honors.
“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.”
The series title is a first for the newly-formed Capps-Antonelli-Medlen trio, who were paired together in January 2020 when Capps’ former crew chief announced his retirement ahead of the 2021 season. Together, the new NAPA team was successful in securing two event wins, three runner-up finishes, and four No. 1 qualifiers in 2021. They advanced to the semifinals or beyond 11 times in 20 events, led the ultra-competitive category in number of round wins (36) and held the points lead five times throughout the year, including on three occasions during the seven-event Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“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.”


Qualified: No. 2 (3.908 E.T. at 329.83 MPH)
The Results:
E1: 3.908 E.T. at 325.06 MPH defeated Terry Haddock 4.708 E.T. at 178.07 MPH
E2: 3.995 E.T. at 319.45 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.948 E.T. at 322.34 MPH


Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 5 (3.719 E.T. at 329.26 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.717 E.T. at 328.94 MPH defeated Justin Ashley 3.713 E.T. at 329.42 MPH
E2: 3.747 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated Billy Torrence 3.730 E.T. at 328.46 MPH
E3: 3.794 E.T. at 324.98 MPH defeated Tripp Tatum 3.915 E.T. at 246.57 MPH
E4: 3.803 E.T. at 312.21 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.759 E.T. at 317.12 MPH

Race Recap:
Starting from the top half of the field, Antron Brown opened his race day looking at an imposing ladder, opening against Justin Ashley, who entered the weekend fourth in points. Brown had a slight starting line advantage and then held on for a holeshot win by just 0.010 seconds (five feet) as both drivers ran their quickest passes of the weekend. Brown would face another top-five driver in the points during round two in Billy Torrence. Brown once again had an advantage on the tree and the power to hold on for his second consecutive holeshot victory to send him to the semifinals.

In the semis against Tripp Tatum, Brown again had the starting line advantage. Tatum would take an early lead, but the Matco Tools Toyota driver drove back around him for the win to advance to his 126th career final round.

The final round against close friend Steve Torrence was a rematch of the finals at Atlanta earlier this year where Brown came out on top. This time around, Brown had a sizable advantage at the tree and led at the 330-foot mark before dropping a cylinder, allowing Torrence to drive away with the win.

Brown wraps up his 2021 campaign ranked sixth for his 24th consecutive Top 10 finish.
“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.”

Driver of the Direct Connection Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 3 (3.706 E.T. at 327.59 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.053 E.T. at 189.71 MPH defeated by Cameron Ferre 3.796 E.T. at 319.75 MPH

Race Recap:
Redlands, Calif. native Leah Pruett’s solid qualifying performance put the Direct Connection Mopar Dodge//SRT dragster No. 3 on the eliminations ladder with a 3.706 second pass at 327.59 mph in the final session. That afforded the HEMI-powered machine lane choice over No. 14 seed Cameron Ferre for the opening round of the final event of the season. After a quick start, Pruett was chasing down her opponent when a malfunction prior to half-track hampered her efforts and brought her race day to an early end.
Pruett closes out her season ranked seventh in the Top Fuel standings to earn her sixth consecutive Top 10 finish since joining Don Schumacher Racing in 2016.
“The level of confidence heading into the final race here at Pomona was extremely high – higher than it’s been in some time. The attitudes were positive. The takeaway from the first round loss is a straight mechanical malfunction. The clutch did not move. It wasn’t a tuning or personnel issue. Therefore, we had no power. It mixed up cylinders immediately. A couple pedal jobs and a weird sensation in the car when you’re not going anywhere, but also not smoking the tires. Sometimes it’s just necessary for a very hard reset. This entire team has a heart of gold. We represent the ‘never lift’ campaign for Dodge and we are a testament for that and sometimes when you never lift, a part does. We’re looking forward to next season. We couldn’t be more thankful to DSR, Dodge, Mopar, Pennzoil, all of our great partners at Don Schumacher Racing, and everyone at DSR for some amazing seasons.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Qualified: No. 7 (3.956 E.T. at 319.75 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.935 E.T. at 323.04 MPH defeated Tony Jurado 3.973 E.T. at 322.34 MPH
E2: 3.948 E.T. at 322.34 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.995 E.T. at 319.45 MPH
E3: 3.975 E.T. at 317.79 MPH defeated by Alexis DeJoria 3.940 E.T. at 321.04 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan entered the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as the reigning world champion and was looking to go back-to-back and pick up a fourth series title on Sunday. He started the weekend ranked second in the standings, and 58 points behind his No. 1 ranked teammate, Ron Capps.
Hagan qualified seventh for Sunday’s elimination rounds, and after outrunning Tony Jurado in E1, Hagan was set to take on Capps in the quarterfinals. By successfully defeating his teammate in round two, Hagan kept his repeat championship hopes alive, and although Capps no longer had the opportunity to battle for the NHRA Finals event trophy, Hagan would still need to advance to the final round and win the race to be awarded the championship hardware.
Hagan was focused on the task at hand and staged the Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat opposite Alexis DeJoria in the semifinals, ready to continue his title quest. The three-time world champ was first on the throttle and was even with his opponent through the 330-foot markers before DeJoria was able to pull ahead for the win, ending Hagan’s hopes of securing a fourth series title.
With a category-best four wins in 2021, the Dickie Venables-guided Mopar Dodge//SRT team finish the season ranked second, with Hagan clinching a Top 10 finish for the eleventh time in his career.
 “We've got a great team, a great car, and at the end of the day, there were three Dodge Charger SRT Hellcats in the running for this championship, with (Ron) Capps, me and Cruz (Pedregon). Dodge is just doing an amazing job out there and I'm glad to be a part of it. Today didn't go the way we wanted it to but to be in the championship hunt and to be able to have a shot at it year after year is a testament to the performance equipment we have and the hard work this team has put in.
“Congratulations to Ron Capps. He’s a true legend of the sport. He’s been out here probably more than twice as long as I’ve been racing. Those guys just outworked and outperformed us this year. At the end of the day, we get to come back out here and fight them again next year. It’s been a long year, but I just want to say I’m proud of Dickie Venables and my entire crew. We battled back after a couple of bad race days at Bristol and (Las) Vegas. I’m happy for Ron and sad for us. The sun will rise tomorrow and it’s time for us to work hard this off-season and come back out and do it again in a few months here at Pomona. Great job to Capps and the NAPA team.”

NHRA Camping World Series Countdown to the Championship Final Standings (unofficial):

Top Fuel

1 Steve Torrence   2873
2 Brittany Force   2637
3 Mike Salinas   2614
4 Justin Ashley   2556
5 Billy Torrence   2498
6 Antron Brown   2427
7 Leah Pruett   2401
8 Clay Millican   2384
9 Shawn Langdon   2310
10 Doug Kalitta   2290

Funny Car
1 Ron Capps   2676
2 Matt Hagan   2639
3 Bob Tasca III   2586
4 Cruz Pedregon   2555
5 John Force   2543
6 Alexis DeJoria   2526
7 J.R. Todd   2498
8 Robert Hight   2478
9 Tim Wilkerson   2361
10 Jim Campbell   2238

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