Caruso to KB Titan Racing, Capps Promotes Buckingham, JEGS Races Continue

Ken Black is stepping away from team ownership after 20 years
Camrie Caruso is moving to KB Titan Racing in 2023

When Camrie Caruso blasted onto the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock scene, she did so as a third-generation racer whose family was running the team. That put a lot of pressure on the young driver, who not only had to figure out how to get a Pro Stock Chevrolet Camaro down the quarter-mile track at 19 national events, find sponsors to back her play and manage the squad prepping and running her car.

All told, her 2022 rookie season was more than exceptional: she earned her first No. 1 qualifier and went to the final round in the last Houston race before that track was leveled; she ended the “regular” season in the Top 10, before the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs began; she qualified for every one of 19 races on the Pro Stock calendar.

Oh, and she won NHRA’s vaunted Rookie of the Year honors for those – and many other – accomplishments. 

Ken Black is stepping away from team ownership after 20 years

Racing does make strange bedfellows and, with the changes at KB Titan Racing, now that founder Keith Black has stepped away and five-time, winningest Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson, who earned his 101st class race victory at the 2022 season finale in Pomona, has taken over management of that team, he has plans to make KB Titan’s results even more substantial. “There are so many positive things happening in the KB Titan Racing camp,” Anderson noted. 

To that effect, KB Titan Racing has engaged Caruso as a fourth racer, joining Anderson, Kyle Koretsky and 2021 Rookie of the Year winner Dallas Glenn on a four-car Camaro squad for the 2023 season. “This is an exciting move for me, but it wouldn’t be possible without an amazing rookie season, learning from Jim Yates and working with Jamie and Toni Yates,” the 24-year-old New York native said. “The opportunity to become a team driver for KB Titan Racing was too good to pas up; I am looking forward to making an immediate impact and developing even more as a driver.”

Greg Anderson has 101 Pro Stock winner’s trophies

Caruso, who credits her father Marc Caruso and grandfather, Joseph “Papa Joe” Caruso for much of her trackside support, continues to have marketing relationships with Powerbuilt Tools, Tequila Comisario, Right Trailers and VP Racing as she moves to the KB Titan Racing stables for 2023. Marketing specifics will be delineated prior to the start of the season in March.

The retirement of crew chief John Medlen from three-time and reigning NHRA Funny Car titleholder Ron Capps’ eponymous race team has meant ch-ch-changes for this very tight squad, but as Capps begins his second season as a team owner/driver in the Camping World Drag Racing Series, the Californian has promoted car chief Tom Buckingham to assistant crew chief on his NAPA Toyota GR Supra Funny Car, and given clutch specialist Travis Wirth the opportunity to perform as car chief, in addition to his duties in setting up the all-important clutch system.

Medlen’s retirement comes at the close of his second season working with Capps and helping the driver to his second consecutive title. Known for his technical wizardry, Medlen’s departure left Ron Capps Motorsports with some rather large shoes to fill; after all, he and fellow crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli had worked side by side for the past six years. Both are veterans of the sport and came, first to Don Schumacher Racing and then to Ron Capps Motorsports from powerhouse John Force Racing (JFR). Together, the duo accomplished seven national event wins in 14 final rounds and 10 No. 1 qualifiers over the past two NHRA seasons.

Ron Capps wanted to promote from within for his new assistant crew chief

Capps and Antonelli were resolute in wanting to choose someone already in their powerful wheelhouse to take the job as assistant crew chief. Buckingham, who will continue to oversee the crew as he takes on the added responsibilities of handling many of the team’s day-to-day operations (ordering parts, coordinating work and travel schedules), as he learns the nuances of tuning the 11,000-horsepower Supra.

 

Tom Buckingham will serve as Ron Capps Motorsports’ assistant crew chief – Auto Imagery photo

“I’ve been a car chief for the past five years – two years with Ron and for three years before that with Jack Beckman’s team,” Buckingham related. Now with three NHRA World Championships to his credit, including one with JFR in 2010 when Antonelli was a member of that team, “I grew up at the track. My parents had a turkey leg stand at the race track in Brainerd (MN) when I was a little kid, so that’s where the love of drag racing all started for me,” Buckingham said. “Later, my dad was a sales manager for Budweiser, and I got to know the Bernstein team, and decided I wanted to work on one of these cars.”

He attended University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) to learn more about high performance cars, “and once I graduated, I came out here (to Brownsburg, IN) and have been working on nitro teams ever since. I’m so grateful to now have this opportunity to learn from Guido, one of the best tuners in our sport, and advance my career.”

For Antonelli, Buckingham’s promotion is his kind of “paying it forward.” He was mentored by Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderley at JFR: “They took me under their wing and I learned under them, working as a car chief or assistant crew chief for 12 years.” In 2007 Antonelli was given the opportunity to tune Ashley Force’s car. “If they would have never given me that opportunity, I’m not sure how my NHRA career would have turned out, so now it’s my turn to give someone their shot.”

When Capps and Antonelli first started talking about a replacement for John Medlen, “I told him ‘this is your team to run,’” Capps said, “and when he suggested T Buck, it was an immediate yes from me. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than him to get a shot at being an assistant crew chief. I’m very excited heading into next season, and having him in that role,” Capps emphasized.

Not only is JEGS returning to Elite Motorsports and continuing its partnership with the eight-car Pro Stock team that houses five-time and reigning champion Erica Enders, but the e-commerce retailer and distributor of high performance automotive aftermarket parts and accessories will continue to partner NHRA in a variety of different ways. The long-term agreement includes the continuation of the longtime JEGS Allstars and JEGS SPORTSnationals, two popular events for racers competing on the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series circuit.

 

JEGS Allstars is one of the most important wins for any eligible Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitor

The 39th JEGS Allstars moves to the fall Stampede of Speed’s home track of Texas Motorplex for the first time, taking place October 12-15 on the Dallas-adjacent dragstrip. The JEGS SPORTSnationals will, once again, take place at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, OH, scheduled next year for July 12-13. 

“The JEGS Allstars gives these racers a huge spotlight on a unique stage, and we’re excited to see this great event move to Texas Motorplex as part of the Texas NHRA FallNationals,” declared Ralph Mondeaux, JEGS vice president of marketing. “JEGS is committed to the racers, on and off the track, and making this great event better each year remains a major priority. By having it in Dallas as part of the track’s Stampede of Speed, it adds another standout addition to the event, and we know all the racers competing at the JEGS Allstars are looking forward to racing for team and individual titles at Texas Motorplex.”

To qualify for the JEGS Allstars, racers earn points in their home divisions during year-long battles in the following categories: Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Competition, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. Winning this prestigious race is a lifetime goal for racers and adds another marquee, must-see event to the 10-day Stampede of Speed festival and Texas NHRA FallNationals.

The July JEGS SPORTSnationals takes place at National Trail Raceway in Ohio next July

JEGS SPORTSnationals is part of a huge racing weekend at National Trail Raceway. Last year the event enticed more than 600 drivers across eight different categories, making it one of the top events of the sportsman season. The JEGS SPORTSnationals lead into a divisional and regional race scheduled for July 14-16 at the track, kicking off a massive near-week of racing action. Winners in each category receive a one-of-a-kind copper Wally trophy branded with JEGS nomenclature. It’s one of the largest fields of cars in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

By Anne Proffit

Below are the qualifying events for both divisional and regional inclusion:

2023 JEGS Allstars Qualifying Events

Divisional Schedule

Northeast Division 1

Aug 5 – Aug 7, 2022: Atco Raceway, Atco, NJ

Aug 26 – Aug 27, 2022: New England Dragway, Epping, NH

Sep 30 – Oct 2, 2022: Virginia Motorsports Park, Richmond, VA

Apr 14 – Apr 16, 2023: Cecil County Dragway, Rising Sun, MD

May 26 – May 28, 2023: Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, PA

Jun 9 – Jun 11, 2023: Lebanon Valley Dragway, West Lebanon, NY

Jul 8 – Jul 9, 2023: Numidia Dragway, Numidia, PA

Southeast Division 2

May 20 – May 22, 2022: Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, NC

Sep 16 – Sep 18, 2022: GALOT Motorsports Park, Dunn, NC

Oct 14 – Oct 15, 2022: Orlando Speed World Dragway, Orlando

Feb 3 – Feb 4, 2023: Orlando Speed World Dragway, Orlando

Mar 2 – Mar 5, 2023: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, FL

Mar 17 – Mar 18, 2023: South Georgia Motorsports Park, Cecil, GA

North Central Division 3

Aug 5 – Aug 7, 2022: Route 66 Raceway, Chicago

Aug 26 – Aug 28, 2022: Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green, KY

Oct 6 – Oct 7, 2022: World Wide Technology Raceway, St. Louis

Oct 8 – Oct 9, 2022: World Wide Technology Raceway, St. Louis

Apr 28 – Apr 30, 2023: Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Brownsburg, IN

Jun 2 – Jun 4, 2023: Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, OH

Jul 14 – Jul 16, 2023: National Trail Raceway, Columbus, OH

South Central Division 4

Apr 8 – Apr 10, 2022: Houston Raceway Park, Houston

May 19 – May 20, 2022: Texas Motorplex, Dallas

May 21 – May 22, 2022: Texas Motorplex, Dallas

Jun 10 – Jun 12, 2022: Osage Hotel and Casino Tulsa Raceway Park, Tulsa, OK

Feb 24 – Feb 26, 2023: No Problem Raceway, Belle Rose, LA

Mar 24 – Mar 26, 2023: Thunder Valley Raceway Park, Noble, OK

Apr 21 – Apr 23, 2023: Houston Raceway Park, Houston

May 18 – May 19, 2023: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX

May 20 – May 21, 2023: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX

West Central Division 5

Sep 9 – Sep 11, 2022: Tri-State Raceway, Earlville, IA

May 5 – May 7, 2023: SRCA Dragstrip  Great Bend, KS

Jun 2 – Jun 4, 2023: Tri-State Raceway, Earlville, IA

Jun 16 – Jun 17, 2023: Bandimere Speedway, Denver

Jul 27 – Jul 28, 2023: Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, KS

Jul 29 – Jul 30, 2023: Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, KS

Northwest Division 6

Jul 8 – Jul 8, 2022: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Jul 8 – Jul 10, 2022: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Aug 25 – Aug 26, 2022: Yellowstone Dragstrip, Acton, MT

Aug 27 – Aug 27, 2022: Yellowstone Dragstrip, Acton, MT

Sep 9 – Sep 10, 2022: Mission Raceway, Mission, BC

Jun 2 – Jun 4, 2023: Firebird Raceway, Boise, ID

Jul 13 – Jul 14, 2023: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Jul 15 – Jul 16, 2023: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Pacific Division 7

Oct 13 – Oct 14, 2022: Famoso Dragstrip, McFarland, CA

Oct 15 – Oct 16, 2022: Famoso Dragstrip, McFarland, CA

Nov 4 – Nov 6, 2022: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Feb 23 – Feb 24, 2023: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Chandler, AZ

Feb 25 – Feb 26, 2023: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Chandler, AZ

Apr 20 – Apr 21, 2023: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Apr 22 – Apr 23, 2023: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Regional Schedule

East Region

Aug 5 – Aug 7, 2022: Atco Raceway, Atco, NJ

Aug 26 – Aug 27, 2022: New England Dragway, Epping, NH

Sep 30 – Oct 2, 2022: Virginia Motorsports Park, Richmond, VA

Mar 2 – Mar 5, 2023: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, FL

May 26 – May 28, 2023: Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, PA

Jun 9 – Jun 11, 2023: Lebanon Valley Dragway, West Lebanon, NY

North Central Region

Aug 5 – Aug 7, 2022: Route 66 Raceway, Chicago

Aug 26 – Aug 28, 2022: Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green, KY

Oct 7 – Oct 9, 2022: World Wide Technology Raceway, St Louis

May 6 – May 7, 2023: Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Brownsburg, IN

Jun 2 – Jun 4, 2023: Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, OH

Jul 14 – Jul 15, 2023: National Trail Raceway, Columbus, OH

Central Region

May 19 – May 21, 2022: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX

Sep 9 – Sep 11, 2022: Tri-State Raceway, Earlville, IA

Feb 24 – Feb 26, 2023: No Problem Raceway, Belle Rose, LA

May 5 – May 7, 2023: SRCA Dragstrip, Great Bend, KS

May 19 – May 21, 2023: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX

Jun 16 – Jun 17, 2023: Bandimere Speedway, Denver

Jul 28 – Jul 29, 2023: Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, KS

West Region

Jul 8 – Jul 10, 2022: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Aug 25 – Aug 27, 2022: Yellowstone Dragstrip, Acton, MT

Nov 4 – Nov 6, 2022: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Feb 24 – Feb 26, 2023: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Chandler, AZ

Apr 21 – Apr 22, 2023: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Jul 13 – Jul 14, 2023: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

Jul 15 – Jul 16, 2023: Woodburn Dragstrip, Woodburn, OR

About Anne Proffit 1268 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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