NHRA at Topeka: Capps wins 4th straight; Brown, Gray also winners

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Fans that attended the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas this weekend most certainly got their money’s worth.

Each day of the race weekend – Friday through Sunday – saw at least one major NHRA professional national record set in either speed or elapsed time (or both).

The biggest class to see numerous records set was in Funny Car, where the speed mark was re-set twice, while the ET mark was re-set once.

We’ll get back to that more in a second, but first, here’s how Sunday’s final round of eliminations transpired in the eighth of 24 national events this season:

Funny Car: Ron Capps won his fourth straight race, defeating Matt Hagan. Capps is the first driver in nearly five years to win four straight (Robert Hight last did so in 2012).

“I’m just the luckiest dude in the world,” Capps said. “I had nothing to do with it. I just stepped on the gas at the right time and held the car together in the right lane. We’ve won a championship (last season) for a reason and we’ve won four in a row together for a reason. Everyone just gels together.”

Top Fuel: Antron Brown came into the race having defeated Steve Torrence 21 of 22 times in their respective race careers. Make it 22 of 23 now, as Brown earns the 63rd win of his career (passes Larry Dixon for seventh on the NHRA all-time wins list) – and his first ever at Topeka. It was also Brown’s second win of the season.

“The competition has been so tight that you have to run these cars on edge every lap,” Brown said. “We kept our head down and stayed poised. We went out there and raced our hearts out. It feels real good to win here at Topeka. I’ve been wanting to win here for so long.”

Pro Stock: Tanner Gray became the third member of his family to win at Topeka, joining grandfather Johnny (won in Funny Car in 2013) and father Shane (won in Pro Stock in 2011). The youngest Gray essentially had a free pass to the win when Jeg Coughlin red-lit in the final round, automatically disqualifying him.

“I felt like I was pretty consistent all day,” Gray stated. “My guys gave me a great racecar. I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for them. They put a lot of hard work into this new car. There’s no doubt we have a championship caliber team.”

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Now, as for all the records, the weekend saw the 10 fastest speeds or quickest elapsed times in Funny Car history, as well as the two fastest speeds ever in Top Fuel annals.

Robert Hight set things in record-breaking motion on Friday when he broke the new mark in a big way with a run of 337.66 mph.

While that speed appeared pretty stout, it ultimately wasn’t for Matt Hagan on Saturday, who not only re-set the speed record at 338.85 mph, but also set the national elapsed tie record at 3.802 seconds.

“This is about as extreme as it gets,” Hagan told NHRA.com. “338 mph with a steering wheel in your lap is craziness – and we’re doing it in 1,000 feet.

“We’ve got the conditions, the parts and pieces and the power and the crew that is doing a great job out there. It’s just cool to go out there and get it done.”

Also Saturday, three-time champ Antron Brown set the Top Fuel national speed record (333.16 mph).

In Sunday’s first round of eliminations in Top Fuel, Brittany Force set a new national speed record (333.66 mph). However, Brittany’s record speed would go for naught when she lost in the second round to Steve Torrence, one of the hottest drivers this season.

Then Brittany’s baby sister, Courtney Force, went out and recorded the second-fastest speed in Funny Car history (338.68 mph) and the fourth-quickest ET (3.821 mph).

Hight roared back in his own first-round match (338.09 mph and 3.833 seconds), meaning the event saw the four quickest ETs and the six fastest speeds in Funny Car history.

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Here’s all the stats from Sunday’s final eliminations:


TOP FUEL: 1.  Antron Brown; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Doug Kalitta; 6.Brittany Force; 7.  Shawn Langdon; 8.  Tony Schumacher; 9.  Terry McMillen; 10.  Kebin Kinsley; 11.Scott Palmer; 12.  Luigi Novelli; 13.  Mike Salinas; 14.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 15.  Pat Dakin; 16.Rob Passey.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Matt Hagan; 3.  Jack Beckman; 4.  Robert Hight; 5.  Courtney Force; 6.  Bob Tasca III; 7.  Del Worsham; 8.  J.R. Todd; 9.  John Force; 10.  Tim Wilkerson; 11.  Brian Stewart; 12.  Chad Head; 13.  Dale Creasy Jr.; 14.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 15.  Jack Wyatt; 16.  Cruz Pedregon.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Tanner Gray; 2.  Jeg Coughlin; 3.  Bo Butner; 4.  Vincent Nobile; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6.  Allen Johnson; 7.  Jason Line; 8.  Drew Skillman; 9.  Matt Hartford; 10.  Deric Kramer; 11.  Dave River; 12.  Mark Hogan; 13.  Erica Enders; 14.  Alan Prusiensky.

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TOP FUEL: Antron Brown, 3.709 seconds, 332.75 mph  def. Steve Torrence, 3.836 seconds, 256.70 mph.

Funny Car: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.924, 321.42  def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.985, 318.92.

PRO STOCK: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.580, 210.87  def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

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TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.732, 304.67 def. Terry McMillen, 3.761, 321.50; Doug Kalitta, 3.731, 329.42 def. Scott Palmer, 3.811, 323.58; Antron Brown, 3.691, 332.34 def. Kebin Kinsley, 3.790, 322.73; Tony Schumacher, 5.895, 193.85 def. Pat Dakin, 10.012, 71.62; Leah Pritchett, 3.707, 326.87 def. Rob Passey, 14.850, 35.15; Brittany Force, 3.698, 333.66 def. Luigi Novelli, 3.986, 288.95; Steve Torrence, 3.707, 332.10 def. Mike Salinas, 4.406, 167.93; Shawn Langdon, 3.722, 329.42 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.933, 125.46;

QUARTERFINALS — Millican, 5.428, 143.41 def. Schumacher, 8.413, 64.85; Pritchett, 3.708, 325.92 def. Kalitta, 3.731, 330.96; Torrence, 3.745, 326.95 def. Force, 3.736, 332.92; Brown, 4.026,275.90 def. Langdon, 4.736, 179.21;

SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.718, 329.34 def. Millican, 3.822, 316.08; Brown, 3.715, 330.15 def. Pritchett, 3.718, 329.34;

FINAL — Brown, 3.709, 332.75 def. Torrence, 3.836, 256.70.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.833, 338.09 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.412, 212.16; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.852, 333.99 def. Jack Wyatt, Dodge Stratus, 5.699, 124.65; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.821, 338.68 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.913, 328.30; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.218, 217.70 def. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.172, 247.97; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.968, 326.87 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.456, 190.83; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.930, 317.49 def. John Force, Camaro, 3.907, 332.34; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.606, 179.02 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 9.778, 81.34; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.938, 329.58 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 3.930, 322.96;

QUARTERFINALS — Hight, 3.895, 332.43 def. Tasca III, 3.910, 325.22; Capps, 3.866, 325.45 def. C. Force, 3.902, 333.00; Hagan, 4.016, 273.94 def. Todd, 5.288, 148.27; Beckman, 3.883, 328.54 def. Worsham, 4.012, 324.36;

SEMIFINALS — Capps, 3.908, 323.97 def. Hight, 6.168, 118.16; Hagan, 3.918, 330.55 def. Beckman, 4.434, 195.65;

FINAL — Capps, 3.924, 321.42 def. Hagan, 3.985, 318.92.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.583, 210.44 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 9.145, 109.08; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.553, 210.73 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.587, 209.39 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.578, 210.67; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.563,210.67 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.639, 208.84; Greg Anderson, Camaro,  def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, Broke – No Show; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.557, 211.10 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.707, 205.69; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.556, 210.50 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.832, 202.18;

QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.575, 209.23 def. Johnson, 6.634, 209.98; Nobile, 6.581, 210.14 def. Line, Foul – Red Light; Butner, 6.557, 209.95 was unopposed; Gray, 6.575, 209.69 def. Anderson, 6.568, 210.34;

SEMIFINALS — Gray, 6.577, 210.14 def. Nobile, 16.918, 49.57; Coughlin, 6.576, 210.60 def. Butner, 6.569, 210.18;

FINAL — Gray, 6.580, 210.87 def. Coughlin, Foul – Red Light.

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TOP FUEL: 1.  Leah Pritchett, 721; 2.  Steve Torrence, 691; 3.  Antron Brown, 680; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 673; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 539; 6.  Clay Millican, 433; 7.  Brittany Force, 405; 8.  Terry McMillen, 333; 9.Troy Coughlin Jr., 327; 10.  Scott Palmer, 276.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 748; 2.  Matt Hagan, 629; 3.  John Force, 524; 4.  Robert Hight, 518; 5.  Jack Beckman, 502; 6.  Courtney Force, 464; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 461; 8.  J.R. Todd, 378; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 360; 10.  Jonnie Lindberg, 318.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner, 670; 2.  Greg Anderson, 646; 3.  Tanner Gray, 610; 4.  Jeg Coughlin, 593; 5.  Jason Line, 576; 6.  Erica Enders, 423; 7.  Chris McGaha, 421; 8.  Vincent Nobile, 414; 9.  Drew Skillman, 392; 10.  Shane Gray, 382.

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250 Supercross championship midseason recap: It’s a brotherly affair

Supercross championship
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

With six rounds remaining and 11 in the books, the Monster Energy 250 Supercross championship has been a brotherly affair with Jett Lawrence holding a commanding lead in the West division and Hunter Lawrence dominating the East.

The 2023 Supercross season began with Jett Lawrence winning Anaheim 1. – Feld Motor Sports

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but two races. Each rider has failed to claim the overall victory in a Triple Crown format although they both scored a win in one of the features.

Jett and Hunter both have a perfect record of podium finishes, but with four races remaining for each, the Supercross championship battle is far from over. Jett’s worst finish of the season was second in Anaheim 2; Hunter finished third in Arlington. Every other result for each rider was a victory and many of those came in weekends when they scored a heat win.

Both 250 divisions have two standalone races remaining. The West runs next on April 8 with a Triple Crown format in Glendale, Arizona and again in Denver on May 6. The East runs their next standalone race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on April 15 with another race on April 29 in Nashville.

With Jett and Hunter dominating their divisions and showing no sign of slowing, the big question will be how they ride head-to-head in the first of two East/West Showdowns in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22. The season winds down on May 13 in Salt Lake City, Utah with the second Showdown.

Race 1 | West 1 | Anaheim 1
Jett picked up where he left off in 2022. After scoring the 250 Supercross championship in the East last year, He put together a solid performance by finishing second in his heat and leading every lap of the main on his way to his first Anaheim 1 win and the eighth of his career. RJ Hampshire finished second with Cameron McAdoo rounding out the podium in what would set the tone for most of the championship to date. Meanwhile, it was a short season for Austin Forkner, who was expected to be one of Jett’s main rivals in the West. A hard crash early in the main event injured his knee and forced him out of the series.

Race 2 | West 2 | San Diego
Round 2 of the 2023 Supercross championship was supposed to take place in Oakland, but persistent rain and flooding canceled the weekend and made San Diego the second race instead. That didn’t matter to Jett, who once again led flag-to-flag to score his ninth career victory. This was the first time a rider led every lap of the first two rounds since Forkner did so in 2019. Hampshire finished second to Lawrence for the second straight week with McAdoo in third. “[Podiums are not enough] right now,” McAdoo told NBC’s Jason Thomas afterward. “I was just pretty bummed on a couple things that happened towards the end that I just need to execute better.”

Race 3 | West 3 | Anaheim 2
Out of the gate, it appeared Hampshire would have something for Jett in the second Anaheim race. He won the first feature as the points’ leader slipped into third, but a hard crash for Hampshire in the second feature of the Triple Crown format sealed his fate for the night. Hampshire would go on to finish 11th overall and lose significant ground to Jett. The Triple Crown format would not be kind to Jett either as he finished sixth in Race 1 before finally winning the final event. Jett was second overall in this race behind Levi Kitchen who took the overall with a 4-2-2. This was Kitchen’s fifth 250 start. Stilez Robertson slotted into third with a 6-1-3.

The 250 West season starts in Anaheim and ends at Salt Lake City. – Feld Motor Sports

250 West Championship Standings

Race 4 | East 1 | Houston
Following in Jett’s footsteps, Hunter also set the mark with a win in the 250 East opener. The night was almost disastrous for the Supercross championship leader when Hunter was forced off track trying to pass Tom Vialle for the lead when that rider jumped wide in a rhythm section. Vialle was one of several rookies debuting that weekend and three of them scored top-10 finishes. Haiden Deegan finished fourth in his first 250 race, Vialle was seventh and Chance Hymas eighth. Talon Hawkins narrowly missed that mark and finished 11th. It wasn’t the first 250 race for Max Anstie, but it was his first in more than a decade and he finished second, later telling NBC Sports that “you can’t skip steps”. Jordon Smith rounded out the podium.

Race 5 | East 2 | Tampa
Hunter opened the season with two wins, making this the seventh of his career. Now firmly established with the 250 East Supercross championship lead as Jett dominated the West, the Lawrence brothers are the first to hold the red plate simultaneously. As with the first race, this one did not come easy for Hunter. He had trouble on the opening lap and was forced to charge through the pack. It took all 19 laps to make up the deficit, but he caught Nate Thrasher on the final turn and edged him by 0.134 seconds. Anstie scored his second podium of the Supercross championship season.

Race 6 | West 4 | Oakland
The rescheduled Round 2 saw Jett pick up where he left off. Scoring his 10th win, Jett set the largest margin of victory in his career with a 16.160 second advantage over Hampshire. His previous best was a 14.005-second advantage on a much larger track in the 2022 Daytona Supercross race. For the first time in 2023, Jett had to show patience. He stalked Hampshire and completed the pass when that rider made a mistake. “It was kind of like a chess game to see who was sending it and to try and pick the lines, so I just stayed back there,” Jett told NBC Sports afterward.

Haiden Deegan finished fourth in his first 250 Supercross race and has only gotten better.

250 East Championship Standings

Race 7 | East 3 | Arlington
It’s almost as if the Lawrences have the season choreographed. In the third 250 East race, Hunter suffered his first loss and as with Jett it came in a Triple Format race when he struggled in two features and won the other. A 1-3-6 put Lawrence third in the overall behind Thrasher (2-2-3) and Smith (4-1-5). Jeremy Martin (6-12-1) was the other rider with a feature win that night. Prior to 2023, three different feature winners and a separate overall winner happened only once: Austin Forkner took the top spot in Atlanta 2018 with a 4-2-3. The feature winners were Zach Osborne (1), Martin Davalos (2) and Martin (3).

Race 8 | East 4 | Daytona
The granddaddy of Supercross linked the Lawrence brothers again as they became back-to-back winners in the 250 class on the famed track in Daytona International Speedway’s frontstretch. Jett was victorious in this race last year. That made them the only brothers to win during the history of the race. It was a vindication for Hunter, who struggled badly the week before. With his eighth career win, Hunter was rapidly closing in on Jett. Anstie was back on the podium in second to keep a perfect streak of top-fives alive. But it was Deegan who stole the show, earning his first podium in his fourth start with his famous father Bryan Deegan watching admiringly in the Daytona media center during postrace interviews.

Race 9 | East 5 | Indianapolis
It was a perfect day for Hunter. He won his fourth main of the season and ninth of his career after being the fastest qualifier, holeshot winner and after leading the most laps. In fact, it has almost been a perfect season to this point with each Lawrence failing to win only one race through five rounds. It is now Hunter’s Supercross championship to lose with a 22-point advantage over Anstie and 31 above third-place Thrasher.

Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the only siblings to win the Daytona Supercross race. – Feld Motor Sports

250 Combined Championship Standings

Race 10 | East 6 | Detroit
In a season where the Lawrence’s paralleled one another so closely, it was inevitable that Hunter would catch and tie his brother on the all-time wins list at 10. Through this race, both had 27 starts in their career, so the playing field is equal and both earned nearly the same number of podium finishes and led the same number of races. Hunter continued to widen his lead over the competition as Anstie had an uncharacteristically bad race in which he crashed and finished last. Thrasher finished second and took over second in the standings, but he is now 35 points out of first. Deegan scored his second career podium after riding aggressively in his heat and that led to a series of events that saw his teammate Smith fail to make the main. Afterwards, Hunter defended Deegan’s aggressive block pass.

Race 11 | West 5 | Seattle
Hunter didn’t get to celebrate his tie with Jett for long as the younger sibling scored his 11th career win. Jett is now almost one full race ahead of Hampshire with a 23-point advantage, but Hampshire refuses to fade into the background. Hampshire finished second in Seattle, which was the fourth time in five rounds that he did so. If not for the crash in Anaheim 2, this would be a nailbiter. Hampshire knows he still has a shot, however, because the next round in Arizona is another Triple Crown race. When Jett was reminded of that from the podium, he was visibly disappointed and replied “oof”.

With four podiums each, Thrasher (E), McAdoo (W), and Hampshire (W) are currently running for best in class and are looking over their shoulders at Smith (E) and Anstie (E) with top-three finishes in three races.

More: Jett and Hunter Lawrence walk a delicate balance with the fans

Jett Lawrence celebrated his fourth win of the season and 11th of his career in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports