NHRA: Capps storms to 2nd win of season, Funny Car points lead

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It was Ron Capps’ Day in Baytown, Texas.

Well, it may not have been officially declared such by the Baytown mayor, but Capps still shined nonetheless, winning the Funny Car class in the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Springnationals at Royal Purple Raceway, just outside of Houston.

There’s even more to celebrate: it was Capps’ second win of the season, his third career triumph in Baytown – and for the first time in a long time, he’s back atop the Funny Car points standings.

Capps (4.244 seconds, 258.32 mph) defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman (4.480 seconds, 205.16 mph) to earn his 44th career Funny Car win, moving into second behind John Force (132 wins) on the all-time Funny Car wins list.

“It’s crazy to think that I am number two on that list,” Capps said in an NHRA media release. “I am not that good, so it just shows you from my time with (team owner) Don Prudhomme on down to my team at Don Schumacher Racing, all of the great people I have worked with over the years, it’s a credit to them.

“This is one of those races that when you can win it, you feel like you really earned it.”

Doug Kalitta won in Top Fuel, earning his first triumph since last August. Kalitta (3.820 seconds at 324.98 mph) earned his 36th career win in the Top Fuel ranks, defeating eight-time season champ Tony Schumacher (4.014 seconds, 225.60 mph).

It was the first time Kalitta has defeated Schumacher in 10 head-to-head matchups since 2003. Despite the loss, Schumacher regained the points lead in Top Fuel.

“Tony’s a tough competitor, and here lately, we’ve had a tough time getting around him,” Kalitta said. “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.”

With the win, Kalitta passes the legendary “Big Daddy” Don Garlits on the all-time Top Fuel wins list. Schumacher leads the list with 78 career wins.

“I’ve had a couple dry spells,” Kalitta said. “It’s one of those deals where you never know when you’re going to win one of these, so you have to appreciate the opportunity and appreciate these wins when you get them. It’s a good feeling.”

In Pro Stock, defending 2014 champ Erica Enders-Stevens (6.571 seconds, 211.73 mph) won her second consecutive race of the season and 14th of her career, defeating Chris McGaha (6.598 seconds, 211.66 mph) in Sunday’s final elimination round.

It was far from a routine day for Enders-Stevens. Her team had to change a motor in her car in 11 minutes to reach Sunday’s semifinal round.

“People have no idea how challenging it is to pull together and to be on top two weeks in a row is an incredible accomplishment,” Enders-Stevens said. “This was one of the more emotional wins for me given the adversity we faced and what we all overcame today.”

The seventh of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga., on May 15-17.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Doug Kalitta; 2.  Tony Schumacher; 3.  Spencer Massey; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Larry Dixon; 7.  Steve Torrence; 8.  Antron Brown; 9.  J.R. Todd; 10.  Richie Crampton; 11. Shawn Langdon; 12.  Dave Connolly; 13.  Troy Buff; 14.  Jenna Haddock; 15.  Leah Pritchett; 16. Kebin Kinsley.
FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Jack Beckman; 3.  Robert Hight; 4.  Courtney Force; 5.  Alexis DeJoria; 6.  Matt Hagan; 7.  John Force; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  Chad Head; 11.  Bob Bode; 12. Del Worsham; 13.  John Hale; 14.  Tony Pedregon; 15.  Cruz Pedregon; 16.  Terry Haddock.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 2.  Chris McGaha; 3.  Jonathan Gray; 4.  Greg Anderson; 5.  Jason Line; 6.  Larry Morgan; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Vincent Nobile; 9.  Rodger Brogdon; 10.  Drew Skillman; 11. V. Gaines; 12.  Richie Stevens; 13.  Allen Johnson; 14.  Richard Freeman; 15.  Deric Kramer; 16. Jimmy Alund.

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Doug Kalitta, 3.820 seconds, 324.98 mph  def. Tony Schumacher, 4.014 seconds, 225.60 mph.
Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.244, 258.32  def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.480, 205.16.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.571, 211.73  def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.598, 211.66.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Brittany Force, 3.768, 326.40 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.974, 292.39; Clay Millican, 3.751, 312.78 def. Richie Crampton, 3.756, 320.51; Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 325.77 def. Troy Buff, 3.844, 313.88; Tony Schumacher, 3.726, 328.70 def. Jenna Haddock, 3.966, 300.86; Spencer Massey, 3.770, 327.98 def. Kebin Kinsley, 10.275, 54.99; Larry Dixon, 3.779, 323.89 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.765, 321.73; Steve Torrence, 3.759, 325.14 def. J.R. Todd, 3.755, 326.40; Antron Brown, 3.756, 321.73 def. Dave Connolly, 3.807, 322.73;

QUARTERFINALS — Massey, 3.807, 324.83 def. Force, 3.786, 320.13; Millican, 3.765, 320.36 def. Torrence, 3.798, 323.89; Kalitta, 3.751, 323.50 def. Dixon, 3.788, 316.97; Schumacher, 3.774, 326.48 def. Brown, 3.808, 318.99;

SEMIFINALS — Schumacher, 3.855, 319.37 def. Millican, 5.971, 106.55; Kalitta, 4.177, 256.75 def. Massey, 5.484, 105.38;

FINAL — Kalitta, 3.820, 324.98 def. Schumacher, 4.014, 225.60.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.056, 318.69 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.046, 314.46; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.034, 319.45 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.974, 160.98; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.386, 207.27 def. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 11.665, 85.68; John Force, Camaro, 4.093, 317.87 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.800, 208.71; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.068, 313.44 def. Bob Bode, Camry, 4.620, 194.35; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.017, 320.81 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 7.330, 85.01; Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.012, 319.75 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.053, 313.22; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.061, 314.02 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 8.175, 85.47;

QUARTERFINALS — C. Force, 4.113, 316.60 def. DeJoria, foul; Capps, 4.054, 316.82 def. Hagan, 4.130, 303.57; Hight, 4.140, 299.40 def. J. Force, 6.494, 102.88; Beckman, 4.047, 315.12 def. Johnson Jr., 8.395, 91.31;

SEMIFINALS — Capps, 4.084, 308.35 def. Hight, 4.084, 318.39; Beckman, 4.066, 309.56 def. C. Force, 4.173, 312.42;

FINAL — Capps, 4.244, 258.32 def. Beckman, 4.480, 205.16.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.565, 210.44 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.565, 210.73; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.564, 210.90 def. Richard Freeman, Camaro, 6.630, 208.68; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.559, 211.53 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.581, 210.47; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.597, 209.72 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.576, 210.11; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.557, 210.21 def. Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 6.666, 209.49; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.583, 209.75 def. Richie Stevens, Dart, foul; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.547, 210.70 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.655, 208.30; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.562, 209.46 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.617, 209.36;

QUARTERFINALS — McGaha, 6.575, 210.28 def. S. Gray, 6.567, 209.75; Enders-Stevens, 6.553, 210.54 def. Nobile, foul; Anderson, 6.572, 210.47 def. Morgan, 6.563, 211.36; J. Gray, 6.581, 210.11 def. Line, 6.556, 211.06;

SEMIFINALS — McGaha, 6.561, 211.10 def. Anderson, 6.588, 210.50; Enders-Stevens, 6.570, 211.03 def. J. Gray, 6.574, 211.03;

FINAL — Enders-Stevens, 6.571, 211.73 def. McGaha, 6.598, 211.66.

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Tony Schumacher, 474; 2.  Spencer Massey, 441; 3.  Antron Brown, 437; 4.  Shawn Langdon, 406; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 390; 6.  Richie Crampton, 374; 7.  Steve Torrence, 325; 8.  Larry Dixon, 318; 9. Clay Millican, 312; 10.  J.R. Todd, 299.
Funny Car: 1.  Ron Capps, 431; 2.  Matt Hagan, 425; 3.  Del Worsham, 401; 4.  Robert Hight, 397; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 369; 6.  Jack Beckman, 353; 7.  (tie) Alexis DeJoria, 328; John Force, 328; 9. Courtney Force, 301; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 291.
Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 510; 2.  Jason Line, 495; 3.  Greg Anderson, 458; 4.  Chris McGaha, 432; 5.  Rodger Brogdon, 385; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 337; 7.  Drew Skillman, 334; 8.  Larry Morgan, 320; 9. Shane Gray, 295; 10.  Allen Johnson, 280.

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Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2