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NHRA Finals A Crowd Pleaser In Pomona
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Brittany Force and her Monster Energy-Flavor Pac team came into the final race with a slim seven-point lead in the Top Fuel category; she set the pace in qualifying at the last event of the season in Pomona and ultimately claimed her second NHRA Top Fuel world championship. Photo By Jeff Burghardt

Pomona, California, home of the Auto Club of Southern California, recently hosted the 2022 NHRA Finals. The weekend featured the final race of the 22-event season and the crowning of three champions.

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force and her Monster Energy-Flavor Pac team came into the final race with a slim seven-point lead over Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connection team and a three round point lead over reigning four-time champion Steve Torrence and three-time champion Antron Brown. Force set the pace in qualifying with a stellar 3.641 et @ 338.94 mph which was enough for a new national speed record for Top Fuel, thus earning her the pole. On elimination day Force and her team rolled up to the starting line in the fourth pair. Although it was a longer wait than any would have expected, as Leah Pruett in the pair in front of Force suffered a massive engine explosion while defeating Alex Laughlin. When Force finally got her chance to advance, she did just that, running the low elapsed time of the round with a 3.701 et @ 334 mph to end Steve Chrisman’s day, which also ended Torrence’s and Brown’s title hopes for the season. Torrence’s season would end two pairs later as he lost to Ron August after losing traction. In the final pair of the opening round Brown would take on Justin Ashley. Ashley got off the starting line first but his title hopes went up in smoke around 300 feet down track and all he could do was watch as Brown streaked off into the distance with a 3.704 et @ 333 mph, and with that Brittany Force claimed her second NHRA Top Fuel world championship.

Austin Prock would come out the eventual race winner as he would take out the newly crowned champion and teammate Brittany Force in the semifinal round. He would then face Brown in the final. Both drivers left the starting line nearly identical but Prock would run the second quickest pass of the event with a 3.641 et @ 336 mph to Brown’s 3.701 @ 320 mph. This was Prock’s third career win.

In Funny Car the title came down to three drivers: three-time champion Robert Hight in his AAA Chevy, two-time champion Ron Capps in his NAPA Toyota, and three-time champion Matt Hagan in his Powerbrokers Dodge. In round one, Hagan was the first to fall as he lost traction and watched as Steven Densham made his way down the track with a 4.170 @ 269 mph. In round two, Hight, who came into the event the point leader, would fall as he too would lose traction and Bob Tasca streaked to the victory with a 4.262 @ 224 mph. That left the title hopes in Capps’ hands. Capps defeated Tasca in the semifinal round thus giving him the point lead but by only three points. He could not claim victory yet as if he oiled the track or crossed the centerline in the final, he would lose the point thus losing the championship. Capps and his team knew they did not even need to show up for the final round and they would be the champions. But they decided for the fans to put on a show and did not disappoint. Capps put up his best run of the day, a 3.85 @ 333 mph but would fall short of the event win as Cruz Pedregon and his Snap On Tools team had been stellar all weekend, he capped off his best weekend in many years with a 3.839 @ 335 mph to score the event win while Capps took home the season championship.

In the final round of Pro Stock newly crowned five-time champion Erica Enders – who had earlier claimed the championship with one event remaining – would take on the reigning four-time champion Greg Anderson. Anderson would leave the starting line ahead of Enders with a .020 reaction time to her .061. Enders ran slightly quicker with a 6.515 @ 210 mph but it was not enough to catch Anderson’s 6.516 @ 210 mph. Anderson scored his 101st victory.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith scored his sixth championship when he won his opening round match up. Smith’s day would come to an end in the semifinal round when Joey Gladstone took him out, which sent Gladstone to the final round to square off against Smith’s wife Angie Smith. Angie would score her third career win as she left the starting line first with an .017 rt to .029. Smith was just able to hold off Gladstone with her 6.749 @ 199 mph to his 6.739 @ 199 mph.

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In Funny Car the title came down to three drivers and two-time champion Ron Capps got his third, advancing to the final round. In the finals, he ran strong but lost the event to Cruz Pedregon; however, he still claimed the season title with the points advantage. Photo By Jeff Burghardt
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Getting the event win in the final race of the season, Austin Prock took out the newly crowned season champion and teammate Brittany Force in the semifinal round of the Top Fuel category. It was his third career victory. Photo By Jeff Burghardt