Greg Anderson scored his landmark 100th win in Pro Stock while Antron Brown, Ron Capps, and Matt Smith also claimed professional victories at the 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Anderson could not have scripted his 100th win any better by winning the landmark race at Indy, but also defeating his KB Racing teammate Dallas Glenn in the final round. A decade after his most recent U.S. Nationals victory, Anderson became just the fifth driver to win 100 events, joining a very exclusive fraternity that includes John Force, Frank Manzo, Dan Fletcher, and David Rampy.
The final round was a bit anticlimactic as Glenn fouled out by two-thousandths of a second, but Anderson wasn’t the least bit concerned as he made his best run of eliminations with a 6.587 in his HendrickCars.com Camaro. Anderson’s 100th win came in his 510th start in the class and 21-years after his first victory at the 2001 Bristol race. Not surprisingly, Anderson was quick to call this the biggest win of his distinguished career.
“I don’t even know if I can explain what this means,” said Anderson. “It’s incredible. I’ve kept asking myself when this might happen and I guess it was meant to be at Indy. For my whole career I’ve made no bones about what Indy means to me. It means ten times more than any other race we have. Nothing compares to Indy. I couldn’t possibly ask for more. I’m a lucky, lucky man.
“I’ve been through this [pursuit of 100 wins] before,” Anderson said. “For a long time I chased Warren Johnson’s record of 97 and we finally got that done and now have 100. I don’t think I’m done by any means but I’m definitely closer to the end of my career. Its hard to come out and compete with these kids so I know my days may be numbered but I’m not done. I think I’ll get a few more and I plan on doing this until I can’t win anymore. Sometimes, it’s good to have a few of us crusty old veterans out here. I used to win Indy fairly often. We won six times between 2001 and 2011 and I thought I’d have ten of them at some point. I’m not going to get there but I think this is the most special one of all.”
Anderson took the pole position early in the event and never ceased to apply the pressure to the rest of the field. On Monday, 6.5-second runs were a rarity, but Anderson managed to put together three of them in four rounds as he took out Fernando Cuadra, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Fernando Cuadra Jr. to reach his 170th final round.
When he made his Pro Stock debut in 2021, Glenn immediately became someone to be feared in Pro Stock and after his latest performance, that reputation is well-deserved. “Double-Oh Dallas” went to his seventh final round in just 30 starts. The RAD Torque Systems driver turned in a strong performance behind the wheel that included a holeshot win over championship leader Erica Enders in the semifinals. Glenn also topped Kenny Delco, and Kyle Koretsky on race day.
After a frustrating season as a new team owner, Antron Brown is suddenly the hottest driver in the sport with two wins in the last three races, including his fourth U.S. Nationals crown, Brown, who won Indy in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2000 and 2004, added a second Top Fuel crown to go with his 2011 triumph when he upset No 1 qualifier Brittany Force in the final, 3.70 to 3.71. Brown is now 4-0 lifetime in U.S. Nationals finals.
"I can tell y'all right now, that was the longest 3.7 seconds in my entire life," he said. "That felt like slow motion. I stepped on the gas, and I'm like, 'Oh, are we ahead?' Then we got to halftrack, the car was motivating hard, and I felt it nose over a little bit, 'She just dropped the hole; don't do this,' because you know, Brittany, they run big speed and come on the big end with a hard charge. And then when that light came on, I was like, 'Man, look what this team has come through where we're at, from start to finish.'
"Our team began this year, we start off with everything new from scratch --everything -- like we had to put trailers together, cars together, and we started putting this team together. And lo and behold, it all started coming together, and to come out to US Nationals. And just keeping our head down, knowing that we can compete and race win any car out here."
Brown began his quest for his 70th win when he qualified the Matco Tools dragster in the No. 6 then ran 3.72 to beat Gatornationals champ Tripp Tatum and 3.73 to beat defending world and event champ Steve Torrence, who smoked the tires just of the line in the Capco dragster. Crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald then tuned Brown to a 3.69 to edge their teammate, Justin Ashley, in the semifinals.
Force, whose weekend started off with a couple of uncompetitive qualifying passes, found her footing in qualifying, where she ended up No. 1 for the seventh time this season. On raceday, Grubnic set the dial to consistency as she ran 3.69 in the first and second rounds for respective wins over Dan Mercier and Josh Hart, then dialed up the power to a 3.67 to beat 2019 Indy winner Doug Kalitta and earn lane choice for the final round.
Capps will no longer have to listen, year after year, to the questions about why he’s never won the U.S. Nationals. With two world championships, more than 70 national event wins, and four specialty event wins at Indy – including Sunday’s Pep Boys Allstars Callout -- Capps finally grabbed the elusive brass ring as s a U.S. Nationals champion.
"A lot of my heroes, like 'the Mongoose' [Tom McEwen], Ed MuCulloch, Don Prudhomme, Don Schumacher, that have won over the years, I've heard them be asked if they would trade a world championship for an Indy win, which you think would be a crazy question, but they all had to stop and think about it. It tells you how big a race the U.S. Nationals is.
"I've tried every different scenario," he explained. "I tried acting like it was the biggest race in the world and I came here and said, 'OK, it's just another race,' and that never worked. So I just tried to approach the weekend, we had a few goals, we wanted to get around Matt Hagan [in points] and it was a lofty goal at that point, but points and a half, which is awesome that NHRAdoes that. We set our small goals and obviously the qualifier Friday night [when he brushed the guardwal] scared me in that goal."
After 26 trips to the event, Capps, who was the huge favorite going into last year’s final round against Tim Wilkerson only to be ambushed, finally got it done with a solid 3.91in the final round after Robert Hight smoked the tires early.
"I stepped on the gas and never saw him, but I expected that car to pop out its nose you know at any given time. I just I've been disappointed so many times I just was waiting and waiting to go, 'It's not going to happen, he's just gonna pop out there and take the win away,' and then my win light came on and I just couldn't believe it."
The victory, Capps’ 71st, came from the No. 1 qualifying position, earned him second place in the points, and followed the $80,000 Pep Boys payday, making for an amazing weekend.
"Our car was a bracket car," he added. "I rolled in [deep] that final run there it would probably went .88 again. I can't tell you how hard that is for a crew chief to do with a 12,000-horsepower motor to go that consistent. My approach and obviously getting to go through the [Callout] race yesterday got those juices going."
Capps’ NAPA Auto Care Toyota ran with the consistency of a Swiss watch, making three straight 3.88-second passes to defeat Dale Creasy Jr., tire-smoking J.R. Todd, and 116-time world champ John Force in the semifinals.
Hight, a three-time Indy winner appearing in his seventh U.S. National final, qualified No. 2 just .002-second behind Capps and crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham kept turning the screws the right way in eliminations as Hight ran 3.89 to beat John Smith and then 3.86 in a crucial race with Matt Hagan but had to dial up the power against red-hot Bob Tasca III in the semifinals. Both cars lost traction immediately, but Hight recovered best to lead Tasca to the stripe with an off-pace 5.75, which cost him lane choice and probably the final round.
In addition to his five world championships, Matt Smith is now a two-time winner of the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals after riding his Denso Buell to a final-round victory over Karen Stoffer. Smith gave up an early advantage to Stoffer, but rolled to a 6.872 to earn his third win this season and the 35th of his career, which ties him with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. Smith also took the lead in the championship standings heading into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Smith made his first qualifying run Friday aboard his Suzuki, but quickly exercised his option to change bikes and rolled out his last year’s Denso Buell. That proved to be a wise decision as Smith qualified No. 2 with a 6.800 and then rolled though four rounds of eliminations on Monday against Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana Jr., and two-time Indy champ Jerry Savoie. Smith was also extremely consistent with four runs on Monday between 6.859 and 6.893.
“We started on the Suzuki and our goal was to finish on a Suzuki,” said Smith. “I have a new motor for that bike so now I have two and we made the first run on Friday and it just wasn’t happy. I had a bad 60-foot time, and I just got frustrated and decided to bring out the V-twin. On Saturday morning we went to No. 1 until Angelle came around us but I set top speed at 201 mph and had low E.T. of eliminations and the last three qualifying runs. I think I had the bike to beat. Honestly, I didn’t do my job on the starting line; I couldn’t get the clutch out on time but we found a way to get it done.
“When it’s on, I can run with any Suzuki out there but we’re still struggling a big so I’m going to run the V-twin at the next two races for sure. I told them earlier this year if they piss me off I’m going to bring the red rocket [Buell] back out. Now, they had better watch out for me. I’m going to defend this championship. I can tell you that. Tonight, we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to live it up because this is the U.S. Nationals.”
Stoffer qualified in the bottom half of the field but quickly shed her underdog status when she upset championship leader Joey Gladstone in round one with a nearly perfect reaction time. Stoffer later topped Angie Smith and Steve Johnson to reach the final for the third time this season and 30th of her career.