Ron Capps joined an exclusive fraternity with his 75th NHRA national event title while Antron Brown and Dallas Glenn also collected pro titles at the Luas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Capps has had a long love affair with Brainerd Int’l Raceway and it’s large and enthusiastic fan base. He’s also enjoyed tremendous success in the land of 10,000 lakes as he’s won seven of his 75 career victories in Brainerd following a thrilling 3.887 to 3.900 win over Robert Hight in the Funny Car final.
Capps got off to a rough start when he was unable to make the first qualifying run of the weekend but not much went wrong after that. Capps qualified his Dean Antonelli-tuned NAPA Toyota in the No. 1 spot with a 3.894 and then ripped off a string of competitive runs on Sunday to score wins against Jim Campbell, Tim Wilkerson, and Topeka champion Bob Tasca III.
As an added bonus, Capps was able to leap over incoming leader Matt Hagan to take the top spot in the Funny Car standings with one race remaining before the start of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“First of all, 75 is crazy. I believe I just tied Pat Austin who is one of my heros. He’s one of the best drivers I’ve ever seen in person. I don’t deserve this,” said Capps. “Everyone in the Zoo. Look out. We’re coming in and this [Wally] is coming with me. I’ve won here with different crew chiefs so it’s not that but there is something about this place. I’ve talked about it a lot this weekend because my career started here. On Saturday night, we went to the Zoo. I got to bed at a decent hour but there have been years where I didn’t go out there and I lost first round so I won’t make that mistake again.
“In the final, I was concerned and you could see it in Guido’s eyes racing Jimmy and Robert. They push each other and I thought they’d probably go 3.85. The way I staged in the final we’d probably go 3.86 if it was in qualifying trim but it was a huge relief to get it done.”
Hight, celebrating his birthday on Sunday, enjoyed one of his best events since his victory in Charlotte with victories against Bobby Bode, Dave Richards, and his team owner, John Force. Hight is also on the verge of a milestone of his own with 99-career final rounds, all of them in the Funny Car class.
Coming off a runner-up finish at week ago in Topeka and a win on Saturday in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, Brown is arguably the hottest driver in the Top Fuel class. Competing in his 497th race as a Pro, Brown isn’t far behind Capps with career win No. 73 after topping Leah Pruett in the final. Brown drove his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.715 that was enough to maintain a lead against Pruett’s very competitive 3.757 effort.
“I know Leah is hungry right now. She’s in full blown beast mode so we didn’t take her lightly,” said Brown. “We had a tough day today including the first round against Shawn [Langdon]. We knew the track was good enough to throw what we could throw at it but I heard Shawn leave before me. I drove around him about 330-feet out and then when I saw that 3.68 on the scoreboard I said ‘That’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
“Indy and the Countdown are right around the corner and we’re been preparing. We want to peak at the right time,” Brown said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we do. We keep Working hard and things are falling in falling in the right direction. My team is doing an incredible. Incredible job.”
Brown was just sixth-quickest in qualifying with a 3.780, but his team, led by Brian Corradi and former Brainerd winner Mark Oswald adapted well to Sunday’s cooler conditions to run 3.68, 3.71, and 3.70 in their wins against Shawn Langdon, Steve Torrence, and Mike Salinas, who had earlier rocked the Brainerd crowd with a 338.26 mph speed in his Scrappers dragster.
Glenn has been dominant in Pro Stock this season with his RAD Torque Systems Camaro with three wins in Pomona, Las Vegas and Chicago, but he’d been largely quiet for most of the summer. Despite the winless drought, Glenn has been able to maintain a hammerlock on the top spot in the standings and he padded his lead in Brainerd with career win No. 8.
In the final round, Glenn stormed to a 6.566 to turn on the win light, cruising almost uncontested to the win after opponent Kyle Koretsky shook the tires and shut off in his Lucas Oil Camaro.
Glenn’s road to the final round also included wins against Jerry Tucker, world champ Erica Enders, and Aaron Stanfield.
“I feel like my car did most of the work today,” said Glenn. “I hate it when it’s hot and humid, but on Saturday we picked up four bonus points. In the first round, I didn’t think I made a good run, but it was third-best so that set us up for a nice day. Lately, I made some gains with the clutch pedal so going forward, if someone can settle into the teens or better with a car like mine they’re going to be really tough to beat.
"In the final, I think the track was a bit too sticky,” Glenn said. “We shook pretty good, but it made it through it and we were able to get the win. When Kyle and I both won the semi’s, and we knew it would be an all KB Titan final that’s when the fun starts. I just need to keep this momentum going. I’ve been really lucky this season. I feel like I’ve been just good enough, but Iv’e got the baddest Jerry Haas Race Car on the planet right now."
Koretsky has struggled for most of the season but managed to combine a fast race car and solid driving in Brainerd to reach his seventh career final and first of the 2023 season. Koretsky topped Camrie Caruso, Greg Anderson, and Deric Kramer to reach the final and ran 6.58 on all three runs. Koretsky also scored two holeshot victories on his way to the final.
The Brainerd event also marked the first race in the Road to the Championship for drivers in the Fuel Tech Pro Mod series presented by Type A Motorsports. Jason Lee collected his first win after Jason Scruggs encountered a mechanical issue in the final. Lee also moved into the lead following the victory.