Repeat victories were all the rage at this weekend’s 29th Annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, presented by Minties, at Heartland Park Topeka. While two drivers would find their second victories of the 2017 NHRA season, Funny Car driver Ron Capps would drive his Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to his fourth-straight victory for the first time in his career.
Despite teammate and No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan shattering the national Funny Car record during Saturday’s first round of qualifying with a pass of 3.802-seconds at 338.85 MPH, Capps would take down the dominating driver with a winning pass of 3.924-seconds at 321.42 MPH in Sunday’s final round.
“We were fighting a bit of an issue in the fuel system during both Friday and Saturday’s qualifying sessions, so we weren’t sure if we could reach some of the top speeds that our competition were putting up,” said Capps. “Fortunately, my crew chief called for a new fuel pump on the car on Sunday morning, and while this isn’t something that we would normally do, it quickly paid off and I am just the luckiest guy in the world to pick up another win.”
Capps, who now leads the 2017 NHRA Funny Car standings, is the first driver since Robert Hight, in 2012, to have four consecutive wins in a single season.
Along with Capps, three-time and defending world champion Antron Brown raced to his second victory of the 2017 season and 63rd of his career in his Matco Tools dragster. Before entering the final round, Brown defeated Kebin Kinsley, Shawn Langdon and teammate Leah Pritchett before taking on Steve Torrence in the final round. With a pass of 3.709-seconds at 332.75 MPH, Brown would take down the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals Top Fuel winner.
“The competition has been so tight that you have to run these cars on edge every lap,” said Brown. “We kept our heads down and stayed poised and raced our hearts out. It feels real good to win here at Topeka.”
Despite defeating his teammate, Brown continues to trail Pritchett in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings by more than 40 points.
A young Tanner Gray would top off the NHRA weekend in Kansas by picking up his second Wally of his rookie season with another head-turning pass of 6.580-seconds at 210.87 MPH.
Following his first win of the season at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, Gray faced off with Drew Skillman, Greg Anderson and Vincent Nobile before entering the final round against Jeg Coughlin Jr. Thanks to Coughlin’s red lighting, the youngest winner in NHRA history would once again come home with a win.
“I felt like I was pretty consistent all day, but I let the clutch out in the finals and thought that I had really messed up, but when I looked up and saw my score board lit up I was pretty pumped up,” said Gray. “Jeg is definitely one of the greatest drivers to come into the sport and I know that my team prepared me to take on a driver of his caliber and win.”
Gray’s newest win has continued to pilot him up the NHRA Pro Stock standings, where he currently sits third behind Greg Anderson and points leader Bo Butner.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at the NHRA New England Nationals, June 2-4 at New England Dragway. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all of your NHRA coverage!