Good afternoon race fans!
This weekend the NHRA held their last race of the 2022 season, the Auto Club NHRA Finals, and as dramatic as it was, champions were crowned. I thought this would be a good time to give a break down of each champions season, so let’s get into it.
Top Fuel Champion: Brittany Force
Championships: 2 (This might be her second championship, but this marks championship number 22 for John Force Racing)
This season Brittany along with her powerhouse team, led by David Grubnic and Mac Savage, reset the national speed and et records countless times, including this weekend. The new national speed record is 388.94 mph, and all of the Top Ten (and more) records belong to Brittany. She also had 10 No. 1 qualifiers this season and 5 wins. Coming into the Finals, there were multiple drivers who could’ve been crowned, but with Brittany winning her first round matchup and all the others being eliminated in round one, that gave her the championship early in the day. It’s always exciting to see someone win big and I can’t wait to see what she and the Monster Energy/Flav -R- Pac team do next year!
Funny Car Champion: Ron Capps
Championships: 3 (First for Ron Capps Motorsports/first as a team owner)
Coming off of a championship winning 2021 season Ron had a lot going on. He announced that he was venturing out on his own and forming Ron Capps Motorsports, a dream he had had for a long time, and though taking on this new role was daunting, title defense was on his mind the whole way through. There hadn’t been a back to back championship in Funny Car in years, but he wanted to change that. Ron earned 6 No. 1 qualifiers this season and had 5 wins this season, including winning the US Nationals for the first time in his career. Coming into the finals, the race in Funny Car was really tight with the Top Three, Robert Hight, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, in the points battling for the championship. In the first round Matt Hagan was taken out and that helped the other two immensely. In round two Ron won his race, while Robert lost is but for Ron to win the championship he had to win his semifinal, which he did. Then the NHRA said, that though he technically was the champion at that point, because the gap between him and Robert Hight was only 3 points, he would have to fun the final round penalty free to take it home. Which is not great. But he did that, thus claiming his third career championship and going back to back. This is huge for him being that this was the first year of Ron Capps Motorsports, and having new sponsors onboard, including Toyota. I’m hugely excited for Ron and the NAPA team, and can’t wait to see all the great things they’ll do in 2023.
Pro Stock Champion: Erica Enders
It’s safe to say that in 2022 Erica put on a masterclass. Her run for the championship this season was dubbed the ‘DrivEE For FivEE’. If she wasn’t in a final, which seemed rare, then she was going rounds and doing so often. With 6 No. 1 qualifiers this season, Erica appeared in 13 finals and won 10 of those races. She was so consistent throughout the season that her points gap grew steadily as the year went on and she was able to wrap up her championship at the second to last race of the season in Las Vegas. I know that there are some changes coming to Pro Stock with teams and such, so I’ll be interested to see what the situation over at Elite Motorsports looks like, what Erica’s title defense will entail and how it will be branded because her team is always very creative in that way.
Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion: Matt Smith
Championships: 6 (Ties PSM record)
This season Matt found himself in a bit of a battle for the championship, it wasn’t quite easy for him as it’s been in the past. There was drama and controversy with other riders, new bikes and all the things you could imagine. There was a point in the season, I believe it was around Maple Grove, that Joey Gladstone started to do some damage in the class and get some wins, but in the end with 5 No. 1 qualifiers and 4 wins, Matt got it done.
You guys, it was a great season, full of excitement, drama and everything in between. It’s only going to get better and the sport continues and I can’t wait to see what the 2023 season brings. Thanks for reading along and as the off season gets going, I will keeping you all up to date with any updates!