NHRA Seattle winners, from left: Tanner Gray, Ron Capps, Antron Brown. Photo and videos courtesy NHRA

NHRA Seattle: Antron Brown, Ron Capps earn milestone wins; Gray also triumphs

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Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown broke a one-year winless streak Sunday, capturing the CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceway in Kent, Washington (suburban Seattle).

It’s Brown’s first win since capturing last year’s Northwest Nationals. In fact, he’s now won the last three Northwest Nationals.

In addition, Brown becomes the fourth driver in NHRA history to record 50 career Top Fuel wins.

Other winners in the 16th race of the 24-race Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series were Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock).

Two more races (August 16-19 at Brainerd, Minnesota) and Aug. 29-Sept. 3 (Indianapolis) remain for drivers to qualify for the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

In Top Fuel: Brown roared to victory (3.835 seconds at 322.84 mph) over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Leah Pritchett (3.849 seconds at 320.13 mph).

“It is no secret that we struggled at the beginning of the year,” Brown said in a post-race media release. “Our main focus was one run at a time and to get better each time.

“But today all of the win lights turned on for our team and I couldn’t be so proud of all my guys for how persistent that they have been. It had been so long that I hadn’t even thought about winning 50 (races) but now that we got that win it is just a true blessing.”

Brown defeated Shawn Reed, DSR teammate Tony Schumacher and Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence (in his 120th career final round) before besting Pritchett in the final round.

Pritchett, meanwhile, defeated Troy Buff, Clay Millican and Mike Salinas before falling to Brown in the final round.

In Funny Car: Capps (4.033 seconds at 314.90 mph) defeated points leader Courtney Force (4.115 seconds at 255.63 mph).

By beating Force, Capps prevented a sweep of the annual three-race “Western Swing” by John Force Racing in Funny Car. Team patriarch John Force won at Denver two weeks ago, teammate and president of John Force Racing Robert Hight won last week at Sonoma, California, but Courtney Force would not be able to make it a JFR sweep.

The win was Capps’ second of the season and fourth career triumph at Pacific Raceways. It also was the 60th triumph of his drag racing career.

“There’s a lot of good solid competition out there,” Capps said. “The main thing going through my head was to not let John Force sweep the swing in Funny Car so we put a stop to that.

“This was Rahn Tobler (crew chief) and I’s 24th event victory together since 2012, which is just crazy and I think we’re going to have a lot of success the rest of the season.”

Capps defeated Jonnie Lindberg, DSR teammate Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson before beating Courtney Force. Conversely, John Force’s youngest daughter defeated Jim Campbell, Shawn Langdon and Tommy Johnson Jr. on the way to her category-best sixth final round of the season.

In Pro Stock: Gray (6.632 seconds at 210.05 mph) defeat Deric Kramer, who fouled, being automatically disqualified due to tripping the red light on the starting line.

Gray becomes the first driver in Pro Stock this season to earn four wins.

“It is definitely my team that has gotten me to where I am today,” Gray stated. “It was tough day up on the start line and reaction times were a little bit slower here.

“My team worked with me through the mistakes that I’ve made but all in all it was a great day and I couldn’t be happier.”

Along the way to capturing the national event win, Gray defeated Fernando Cuadra, Jason Line, Vincent Nobile and Kramer.

Also of note, Erica Enders, Nobile and No. 1 qualifier Jeg. Coughlin Jr. each joined Greg Anderson by locking in their spot in the 2018 Countdown.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown; 2. Leah Pritchett; 3. Steve Torrence; 4. Mike Salinas; 5. Richie Crampton; 6. Clay Millican; 7. Doug Kalitta; 8. Tony Schumacher; 9. Troy Buff; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Shawn Reed; 12. Bill Litton; 13. Brittany Force; 14. Jim Maroney; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Ron Smith.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps; 2. Courtney Force; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 4. Tim Wilkerson; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Robert Hight; 9. Jack Beckman; 10. Jonnie Lindberg; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. Gary Densham; 14. John Force; 15. Richard Townsend; 16. Jim Campbell.

PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray; 2. Deric Kramer; 3. Vincent Nobile; 4. Bo Butner; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Jason Line; 7. Jeg Coughlin; 8. Greg Anderson; 9. Matt Hartford; 10. Drew Skillman; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Chris McGaha; 13. Alex Laughlin; 14. Steve Graham; 15. Alan Prusiensky; 16. Joey Grose.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Antron Brown, 3.835 seconds, 322.88 mph def. Leah Pritchett, 3.849 seconds, 320.13 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.033, 314.90 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.115, 255.63.

PRO STOCK: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.632, 210.05 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Mike Salinas, 3.745, 324.59 def. Scott Palmer, 3.840, 323.89; Tony Schumacher, 4.137, 258.47 def. Terry McMillen, 6.626, 91.90; Clay Millican, 3.777, 329.34 def. Jim Maroney, 5.406,124.10; Doug Kalitta, 3.790, 328.78 def. Bill Litton, 3.994, 285.29; Steve Torrence, 3.801, 326.16 def. Ron Smith, Broke; Antron Brown, 3.796, 327.03 def. Shawn Reed, 3.887, 322.58; Leah Pritchett, 3.809, 325.53 def. Troy Buff, 3.798, 315.71; Richie Crampton, 4.308, 274.94 def. Brittany Force, 4.429, 238.72; QUARTERFINALS — Torrence, 3.813, 325.30 def. Crampton, 3.863, 318.69; Salinas, 3.792, 326.08 def. Kalitta, 4.565, 170.60; Pritchett, 3.823, 319.60 def. Millican, 3.957, 266.79; Brown, 4.137, 301.74 def. Schumacher, 4.718, 213.00; SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.811, 323.97 def. Torrence, 3.800, 325.85; Pritchett, 3.838, 304.74 def. Salinas, 4.045, 237.63; FINAL — Brown, 3.835, 322.88 def. Pritchett, 3.849, 320.13.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.037, 319.75 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.057, 314.46; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.045, 316.52 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.854, 166.11; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.950, 320.36 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 5.189, 147.13; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.060, 317.79 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, Foul – Red Light; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.001, 313.15 def. Richard Townsend, Camry, 6.373, 106.37; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.017, 318.69 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.026, 315.56; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.177, 301.74 def. John Force, Camaro, 5.598, 138.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.989, 321.04 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.049, 317.79; QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 4.037, 316.52 def. Todd, 4.049, 316.23; Johnson Jr., 4.074, 318.09 def. Hight, 4.551, 215.37; Capps, 3.998, 320.43 def. Hagan, 4.032, 311.27; C. Force, 4.023, 322.11 def. Langdon, 4.036, 318.02; SEMIFINALS — C. Force, 4.011, 320.20 def. Johnson Jr., 4.062, 316.08; Capps, 4.002, 315.49 def. Wilkerson, Broke; FINAL — Capps, 4.033, 314.90 def. C. Force, 4.115, 255.63.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.594, 210.08 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.601, 210.14 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.593, 209.17; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.552, 210.87 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.577, 210.11; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.548, 210.31 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.575, 211.00; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.546, 210.73 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.584, 209.56; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 211.30 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.665, 207.46; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.543, 210.11 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.637, 208.84; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.549, 211.23 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.723, 206.35; QUARTERFINALS — Nobile, 6.579, 209.33 def. Coughlin, 6.589, 210.64; Kramer, 6.544, 209.92 def. Enders, 6.566, 210.47; Gray, 6.570, 210.60 def. Line, 6.573, 210.37; Butner, 6.573, 211.13 def. Anderson, 8.996, 108.14; SEMIFINALS — Gray, 6.574, 210.77 def. Nobile, 6.606, 209.75; Kramer, 6.565, 209.88 def. Butner, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Gray, 6.632, 210.05 def. Kramer, Foul – Red Light.

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UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS (* = Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship):

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,251*; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,090*; 3. Clay Millican, 1,084*; 4. Leah Pritchett, 1,083*; 5. Doug Kalitta, 995*; 6. Antron Brown, 927; 7. Terry McMillen, 759; 8. Brittany Force, 731; 9. Richie Crampton, 660; 10. Scott Palmer, 649; 11. Mike Salinas, 619; 12. Blake Alexander, 522.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, 1,300*; 2. Ron Capps, 1,146*; 3. Robert Hight, 1,085*; 4. Matt Hagan, 1,064*; 5. Jack Beckman, 999; 6. J.R. Todd, 914; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 892; 8. John Force, 824; 9. Shawn Langdon, 736; 10. Bob Tasca III, 691; 11. Tim Wilkerson, 688; 12. Cruz Pedregon, 641; 13. Jonnie Lindberg, 598; 14. Jim Campbell, 451; 15. Del Worsham, 380.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, 1,189*; 2. Tanner Gray, 1,147*; 3. Erica Enders, 1,082*; 4. Vincent Nobile, 1,052*; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 1,020*; 6. Chris McGaha, 939; 7. Deric Kramer, 928; 8. Drew Skillman, 927; 9. Jason Line, 913; 10. Bo Butner, 895; 11. Alex Laughlin, 681.

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Cooper Webb leaps from obscurity to Supercross lead

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Cooper Webb could not even locate the radar tower before the 2019 season began – let alone expect to see his number dead center in the radar screen.

His ascent to 450 competition came with little fanfare. Finishing 13th in Supercross in 2017 and then eighth in Motocross, Webb did not turn many heads as a rookie. Last year was more of the same.

Through Round 7 at Arlington, Webb failed to record a single top five. That elusive result would come the following week at Tampa with a fourth-place finish. Two weeks later, he stood on the podium at Daytona for the only the second time in his Supercross 450s career. But at season’s end, Webb was only ninth in the standings in both Supercross and Motocross.

No one expected much from him when Anaheim rolled around this year.

Webb started the season much the same as he ended 2018. A fifth-place finish in Anaheim I in muddy and equalizing conditions was followed by a modest 10th at Glendale, but the rider from North Carolina believed in himself.

In professional racing, nothing is more difficult than winning the first race. Webb’s first taste of victory came in Heat 1 of the Triple Crown at Anaheim II. Everyone remained skeptical – it was only one heat race after all. The skepticism turned to interest when he won Heat 2. Then Webb finished third in Heat 3 to take the overall victory. It was his first win in the 450 class.

That was all it took to unleash his potential. Webb won the following week in Oakland and then again two weeks later in Minneapolis.

The Supercross riders left Minnesota and headed straight down Interstate 35 to Arlington with four of them separated by two points. All eyes were focused on Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin – and, oh yeah Webb who sat in second.

Someone was likely to stumble in Arlington and the odds on favorite to do so was Webb. That seemed to be confirmed once the feature started. While the three more experienced riders led by Tomac scooted away from the field, Webb was mired outside the top five for the first six lap.

It was Tomac who tripped and fell, however. Webb passed the stricken rider and surged to fifth on Lap 7. He was in fourth by Lap 10 and third on Lap 16.  As Webb and teammate Musquin battled for the second, they slowly reeled in the leader Roczen. Once Webb broke free on the conflict with the runner-up position firmly his, he could see the red plate on Roczen’s Honda like a cape being waved in front of a bull.

Webb charged through the final six laps getting closer and closer until he edged Roczen for the closest finish in Supercross history. It was Webb’s fourth victory of the season, coming only four weeks after he scored his first career win.

Relive the final laps in the video posted above.

As incredible as Webb’s rise to the points lead is, it has been done before.

Last year Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the standings after Round 2. Anderson held the advantage for the remainder of the year, while Webb has been part of a game of hot potato in which no one seems to want to don the red plate for more than a week.

The pressure continues to mount. Webb now has a two-point advantage over Roczen, who is the only rider to sweep the top five this season.

Webb’s advantage over third is a mere four points, while Musquin has a current five-race streak of podium finishes to his credit.

Tomac’s trouble in Texas serves as a cautionary tale that a single loss of focus can be devastating and Webb still lacks the seat time of his three principal rivals, but last week’s incredible come-from-behind victory is showing that Webb is riding above experience level.

Follow the complete Supercross and Motocross seasons on NBC Sports, Gold.