The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat that won last year’s Funny Car world title kicked off the 2022 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series season at the top of the qualifying timing sheets as a driver and new team owner Ron Capps claimed the No. 1 qualifier position for the season-opening 62nd annual Lucas Oil Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California.
Capps, also the defending Winternationals winner, drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the provisional No. 3 spot in Friday’s qualifying session, posted the quickest run of the second session, then bettered that with a stout 3.857 second elapsed time lap @ 332.43 mph under the lights to secure his 30th career No. 1 qualifier position. He’ll battle the No. 16 seed and fellow veteran racer John Force in the first eliminations round of the year to kick off his 28th NHRA season of competition.
Last season’s runner-up in the Funny Car championship and three-time (2011, 2014, 2020) NHRA World Champ Matt Hagan launched the new Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) team’s season with a strong Friday evening qualifying run aboard his Dodge Power Brokers machine to provisionally sit No. 2 with a 3.886-second pass @ 329.344 mph. He repeated the exact same elapsed time lap under the lights in the final qualifying session, clicking off just before the finish line, to secure the No. 3 spot on the eliminations ladder to pair him with No. 14 seed Chad Green.
Two-time Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon, who is looking to build on a productive 2021 season that saw his team earn two national titles and finish fourth in the championship, took his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the fourth quickest time of the second session, then improved on that performance in the cooler evening air with a 3.906 sec. @ 325.22 mph run that moved him from the seventh spot to No. 4 qualifier position. The Cruz Pedregon Racing HEMI-powered machine will have lane choice over No. 13 seed Terry Haddock as a first-round pairing.
In Top Fuel qualifying, Leah Pruett took her Dodge Power Brokers dragster for its first official qualifying runs with the fledgling TSR team while looking to prepare to defend her 2021 Winternationals win. She took her HEMI-powered machine to the fourth quickest pass of the second qualifying session with a 3.768-second elapsed time run @ 326.63 mph, then powered to a 3.768 second @ 326.63 mph on her final run to keep her seventh overall placing on the timing sheets. Pruett will face off against No. 10 seed Antron Brown in Sunday’s first elimination round of the new season.
Highlights of qualifying at the Winternationals will air on FS1 this Sunday, February 20th, @ 7:00 a.m. Eastern, followed by three hours of elimination rounds coverage on FS1 beginning @ 10:00 p.m. Eastern.