With the last qualifying runs of the 2021 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series season completed at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the stage is now set for a dramatic final showdown between the three Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars of points leader Ron Capps, reigning world champion Matt Hagan, and winner of last week’s Dodge//SRT Nationals at Las Vegas, Cruz Pedregon.
Capps heads into the Auto Club NHRA Finals as the No. 2 qualifier after securing his spot by driving his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a 3.908-second @ 329.83 mph run, the second quickest of the first session. He collected three bonus points for that effort, then added another four by posting the quickest time in the second session to help extend his lead over his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Hagan to 67 points heading into Sunday’s eliminations rounds where round wins are worth 30 points.
Capps, who has taken home four Wally trophies from the Pomona Fairplex venue including the one earned this August, will begin his race day against No. 16 seed Terry Haddock and with the knowledge that he only needs to turn on two win lights on Sunday to secure his second Funny Car world championship title.
Three-time and defending series champion, Hagan is second in the Funny Car standings and heads to eliminations as the No. 7 seed after taking his Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for a 3.956-second @ 319.75 mph drive in the second qualifying session to add two bonus points to his total. He’ll have No. 10 seed Tony Jurado as his first-round opponent and should both Hagan and Capps advance past the opening round, the DSR teammates will battle each other in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Cruz Pedregon is still in the championship mix despite a 91 point deficit, and eyeing his third Funny Car title after his victory at the Dodge//SRT Nationals in Las Vegas put him in contention. Pedregon qualified his Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat sixth on the eliminations ladder with consistent qualifying runs that put him fourth on the timing sheets in the first two sessions and provided and two extra points for his efforts. Pedregon will have No. 11 seed Tim Wilkerson in the lane next to him for the opening round match-up.
While a plethora of scenarios are possible, one thing is certain – a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will be crowned a Funny Car World Champion for the sixth time in 10 seasons. What makes the anticipation heading into the final showdown that much more thrilling is that any one of the three drivers could win it.
Here is how that might happen:
- By winning the first two rounds, Ron Capps will clinch his second Funny Car World Championship title.
- To defend his Funny Car crown, Hagan has to drive his Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the final round or, in the event, Capps advances past the first round, to the winner’s circle.
- For Cruz Pedregon to win his third career NHRA championship, he will have to turn on four win lights and Capps will need to lose the opening round.
Having earned the Top Fuel Wally trophy at the rescheduled August Winternationals at Pomona, DSR pilot Leah Pruett’s mindset heading into this weekend has been on repeating that feat to end the season on a high note. She put herself in a good position to do that with steady improvement through qualifying, recording the third-quickest pass of the second session and second-quickest run in the final session, a 3.706-second lap @ 327.59 mph. That qualifying effort was rewarded with five bonus points and put her Direct Connection dragster in the No. 3 position on the eliminations ladder. Pruett will begin her race day with lane choice over No. 14 seed Cameron Ferre.
Qualifying highlights will air on FS1 on Sunday, Nov. 14th, from 2 to 4 p.m. ET followed by coverage of the elimination rounds from the Auto Club NHRA Finals, including live coverage of the final round, from 4 to 7 p.m. ET to close out the 2021 NHRA Camping World Series season.
NHRA Championship Points Standings:
Following qualifying at Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Ron Capps (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 2,646 (2)
2. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 2,579 (3/1-Tommy Johnson Jr.)
3. Cruz Pedregon (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 2,555 (2)
4. J.R. Todd – 2,498 (1)
5. John Force – 2,483 (3)
6. Robert Hight – 2,478 (2)
7. Bob Tasca III – 2,466 (2)
8. Alexis DeJoria – 2,436 (1)
9. Tim Wilkerson– 2,331 (1)
10. Blake Alexander– 2,208
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Steve Torrance – 2753 (10)
2. Brittany Force – 2,637 (1)
3. Mike Salinas – 2,589 (1)
4. Justin Ashley – 2,556 (2)
5. Billy Torrence – 2,468 (2)
6. Leah Pruett (Mopar Dodge//SRT) – 2,401 (1)
7. Clay Millican – 2,354
8. Antron Brown – 2,337 (1)
9. Shawn Langdon – 2,310
10. Doug Kalitta – 2,260