Just five days since becoming the first Toyota driver to power to victory aboard the new GR Supra Funny Car, Ron Capps appears to be on track to earn his first No. 1 qualifier with his TGRNA machine.
During Friday’s second qualifying session at the NHRA Norwalk Nationals, Capps drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Supra to a blistering 3.901 second at 328.38-mph pass under the lights at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. The run held up to be the quickest Funny Car lap of the day and earned the two-time and defending series champion three bonus points and the provisional No. 1 qualifier position. Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday, but with temperatures forecasted in the 90s, Capps seems to be in a good spot to maintain his position at the top of the timing sheets.
“Obviously, we are running well now,” said Capps, who took delivery of his new Supra Funny Car earlier this season during the Charlotte NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. “I knew it would take a little bit of time and a couple of races for (crew chiefs) ‘Guido’ (Dean Antonelli) and (John) Medlen and our NAPA guys to start trimming out the GR Supra body. They were just trying to massage it and see what it likes.
“We won Bristol in very demanding conditions,” added Capps, already a two-time winner in 2022. “I knew coming here it would be hot and humid. We were third pair during Q2 – very early in the session, so to go out and run that number was awesome, but I figured there would be some 3.80’s thrown out there. We had a bunch of .90s behind us, but we hung on. Just a great job by this entire team.”
If Capps can stave off the competition on Saturday, the new team owner will collect his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the year, and 33rd overall. He has two previous No. 1 starts at the Norwalk, Ohio facility.
As Capps took the provisional top spot in Funny Car, the ladies stepped up to take that same honor in each of the other Camping World classes.
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster team rocketed to the top of the Top Fuel qualifying ladder setting both ends of the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park track record on Friday night of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team closed out Friday night with a bang. The David Grubnic and Mac Savage led team laid down a stellar 3.666-second pass at 333.08 mph to set both the track speed and elapsed time records. Force broke he own record of 3.696 that she set in 2021. She holds the track ET record at 10 of the current NHRA Camping World Drag Racing tracks on tour and now holds the speed record at 12.
“Grubnic and I always chat right before going into the run. After our first run, we knew we could really push. We were at the back of the field so we could watch what everyone else was able to do so they did some fine tuning back in the staging lanes. I was expecting a 3.68 or 3.69 but not that 3.66. It was an incredible, beautiful run,” said Force, who started the day with a 3.798 pass at 326.16 mph that was quickest of the first session. “Tomorrow it’s going to be warmer, so we’ll be looking for two solid, clean runs to get us set up for race day.”
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders was back on familiar ground after having an unexpected hiccup last weekend at Bristol in the final where a broken engine cost her a shot at the victory. That setback did little to slow the Elite team as Enders crushed the field on Friday with a stout 6.537 run that was more than three hundredths quicker than any of her opponents.
“As soon as I unclutched it, I knew it was on a good run,” said Enders, who is seeking her fifth win this season. “I was hoping we’d make a clean run so my crew chief Mark Ingersoll wouldn’t rip his hair our being the first pair out in the good session. We threw down after that huge explosion last week. Fortunately, I was running my teammate, Aaron Stanfield and he got his first win on Father’s Day. This team has a no-quit mentality. I’m lucky to be their driver, and I’m having fun.”
“After the first session where I let clutch out and it tried to blow the back window out of it, I knew we had to get that under control. I knew I had to get the car down the track,” Enders said. “It was a lot cooler and we were in the good lane which is the left. We made a great run in low gear. I thought it might go 6.55 and said we ran 6.53. That was impressive.”
Finally, In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Angelle Sampey was back in the top spot after also faltering in last weeks final at Bristol.
“It took me a couple of days to get over what happened in Bristol but I feel good coming in here,” said Sampey. “We’re coming here on a mission. I made some great runs in Bristol, and I know my Vance & Hines Suzuki is a beauty. I’m having fun. I’m feeling how I need to feel in order to get the job done. I just hope [on Sunday] it’s maybe me or Eddie [Krawiec] standing in the winner’s circle.
“This bike is very quick and fast and I’m still getting used to it,” Sampey said. “I think I’m finally catching up to the motorcycle. For a while I was so far behind and that’s not fun. I’m catching up doing a better job riding and I’m more in control.”
The action continues on Saturday with smoldering track conditions that will make it difficult for most to improve on their times.
See a full recap by Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor:
See the Friday Photo Gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Finally, check out the Saturday preview: