NHRA World Champs Crowned; Brittany Force, Ron Capps, Matt Smith & Erica Enders Take Titles
Story By: NHRA – POMONA, CA – Brittany Force captured her second career world title on Sunday, wrapping up a spectacular season with a Top Fuel world championship after a first-round victory at the 57th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) both clinched world championships at the 22nd and final event in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Force qualified No. 1 in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster and then earned the championship with her run of 3.701-seconds at 334.90 mph in the opening round of eliminations. In a season that included five wins, 10 No. 1 qualifiers and the fastest run in Top Fuel history on Friday, Force, who advanced to the semifinals, picked up her second world title at her home track.
“It just seems surreal. I can’t believe we’re here and it ended up this way,” Force said. “I believed coming into today, I was motivated, and we got the job done. I want everyone to remember this day, here in Pomona with this team. We have been working at this all season long and then we struggled (early) in the Countdown. But we recovered when we needed to here in Las Vegas and here in Pomona.”
Capps earned his second straight world title – becoming the first back-to-back Funny Car world champ in 20 years – by finishing as the runner-up on Sunday in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra. It is his third world championship, which was helped by a shocking second-round loss from Robert Hight on Sunday, who finished second overall on the strength of eight wins. It was a thrilling conclusion to Capps’ first year as a team owner, which also included five victories and a clutch run on Saturday in qualifying to keep his championship hopes alive. Sunday also marked the only time Capps led the points all season – but it proved to be perfect timing.
“The Countdown was crazy. You think about the Funny Cars that had a chance, it just tells you the amount of competition in the field,” Capps said. “We’ve had so many amazing people around us and it’s like we don’t deserve it. I’ve leaned on some great people. Don Schumacher has been unbelievable. People like (Tim) Wilkerson, (John) Force, all these people I race against for a livelihood have checked on me and asked if there’s any way they could help me, which has been very cool. I just didn’t think this was going to happen.
“To win a championship then become a team owner and have that No. 1 on the car and then having to beat Robert Hight and his team, which has had phenomenal success here at this track, it just blows my mind that we’re here. It’s going to sink in soon.”
Smith earned his third straight world title in Pro Stock Motorcycle and sixth overall with a victory in the first round on his Denso Auto Parts Buell. It’s also the fourth in five years for Smith, who has forged an incredible dynasty in the loaded category in recent years. The sixth championship also meant a great deal for Smith, who picked up four wins in 2022, as it ties him with Andrew Hines and Dave Schultz for the most in class history. It was the goal all season and Smith was proud to make it a reality on Sunday.
“This Denso bike has been awesome this year,” Smith said. “Angie’s had a great bike. We took my motor out from the last two races and put it in her bike because we had a shout of being one and two in points and I think we just missed it but hats off to her. She’s had a heck of a season going to three finals this year and winning the last race and then I won four races and won the championship. To be the one Pro Stock Motorcycle rider who has won every Camping World Drag Racing Series championship so far is pretty amazing.”
Erica Enders clinched her fifth Pro Stock world championship a few weeks back, racing to her 10th victory of the season at the 22nd annual NHRA Nevada Nationals to cap off a dream weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In the final round, Enders knocked off teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to collect her ninth Las Vegas win, which is the most for any professional driver in NHRA history.
She clinched her fifth world title a round earlier against Kyle Koretsky, celebrating a massive moment in the career of one of the top drivers in Pro Stock history.
In the finals, she clinched her 10th victory, which sets a single-season career-best for the 43-time event winner.
“What an incredible day,” Enders said. “My crew chief said we were going to go for it, and I just had to drive. To qualify No. 1, win the race and win the championship, it’s been a badass day. As a personal goal, we wanted to get that 10th win and I have the best guys that stand beside me. They all make it possible for me and I’m living my dream.
“This whole season has been a dream come true for our whole team. This season, like every season, we set out to win races and win a championship and we did just that. We spent the whole season with a No. 2 on the car and that didn’t sit well with any of us. It lit a fire under our team to become champs again.”