Defending Mello Yello World Champion Ron Capps continued his very hot hand within NHRA fuel Funny Car racing ….

Capps raced his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to a third straight Funny Car victory during the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway – the concluding event for NHRA’s annual “Southern Swing” of races.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the seventh event of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series schedule.

Ron Capps scored a “natural hat trick” for NHRA FC when he won at Atlanta’s Lucas Oil Southern Nationals.

Capps clocked a winning 3.991-second pass at 317.79 mph to defeat Tim Wilkerson in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang in the final round. This is Capps’ third consecutive winning weekend, he second victory at Atlanta Dragway and the 52nd NHRA national event victory of his career.

“It’s a pinch me moment,” Capps stated. “The car speaks for itself lately. This was probably one of the more difficult race tracks to navigate. You really had to be ready for two or three different sets of bumps. It makes for an exciting run but you’re just hoping, at the same time, that your car stays in the groove. Funny Car is just getting tougher and tougher.”

Capps sailed passed J.R. Todd, 16-time world champion John Force and Robert Hight, who set the track elapsed time record with his 3.880 pass in the semifinals, en route to the victory. Wilkerson faced rookie Jonnie Lindberg, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan before seeing Capps in his first final round appearance of the season.

Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to the winners circle back-to-back races after a 3.745 pass at 320.81 to defeat U.S. Army driver Tony Schumacher. This is Torrence’s third consecutive final round appearance.

Texan Steve Torrence won Top Fuel in NHRA racing for the second weekend in a row.

“The racecar I have right now is the best racecar that I’ve ever had in my life,” Torrence said. “My driving is showing that I’m confident in it. The continuity of my team has what it takes to win championships. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder and a point to prove.”

Torrence pushed past Smax Smith, Shawn Langdon and Top Fuel points leader Leah Pritchett before facing Schumacher in the finals. Schumacher defeated Brittany Force, Bob Vandergriff and Doug Kalitta before falling to Torrence.

During eliminations, Pritchett set the elapsed time track record with a pass of 3.699, while teammate Brown set the track speed record of 329.91 mph.

Butner, who made his Pro Stock debut at Atlanta in 2015, powered his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro to the second victory of his career after a 6.569 pass at 211.26 that bettered two-time world champion Erica Enders. Enders raced her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to a 6.593 pass at 210.97 in her first final round appearance since Las Vegas 2 in 2015.

Bo Butner was convincing again in Pro Stock – scoring his 2nd career win.

“You have to have a lot of trust in your car,” Butner stated. “I’m happy in this car and happy with this team. We’ve had the car to win with for the last year and a half. Now, it’s all just coming together and I’m doing my job.”

Butner defeated Wally Stroupe, Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr. before facing Enders in the finals. Enders lined up against Alan Prusiensky, defending world champion Jason Line and Tanner Gray en route to her final round appearance.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Tonglet raced to back-to-back wins this season after he rode his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to a 6.843 pass at 194.35 defeating teammate and defending world champion, Jerry Savoie. This is Tonglet’s 12th career win and second at Atlanta Dragway.

Also winning back to back events was LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle

“I’ve got a great group of guys behind me who get the bike back to running in no time,” Tonglet said. “To be able to go to the third race of the season and get both of ‘em (bikes) in the final round; it is just unbelievable. This won’t be the last time both bikes are in the finals and we’re going to put on a good show.”

Tonglet raced past Cory Reed, Andrew Hines and Scott Pollacheck before entering the final round. Savoie defeated Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and No.1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec on his way to the finals.

Castellana Clout Continues

Mike Castellana raced to his second consecutive NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series win during the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals event. This week’s Pro Mod Racing eliminator was presented by Pro Line Racing and FuelTech, and was the fourth of 12 races on the season.

Castellana drove his Al Anabi Racing ’17 Camaro to a 5.776-second pass at 249.21 mph to defeat Steve Jackson on a holeshot after he ran a 5.772 pass at 247.61. Castellana’s reaction time of .025 bettered Jackson’s .052.

Mike Castellana dominated Pro Mod – winning from the pole position and setting low ET in the Al Anabi Racing Chevy Camaro.

“I owe it to my crew,” Castellana said. “We had a little incident in qualifying, they got the car together. We had a mechanical failure the round before, they got the car back together. We made great runs, and I just thank my crew for putting this whole thing together.”

Castellana, who was also the No. 1 qualifier, defeated Sidnei Freigo and Steven Whiteley before securing his second victory of the season.

Jackson defeated Harry Hruska in the quarterfinals and No. 2 qualifer Todd Tutterow in the semifinals before falling to Castellana.

The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the J&A Service Pro Mod Series continues at the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties May 19-21 at Heartland Park Topeka.

Lucas Oil Lowdown 

David Rampy notched his 94th career NHRA event win – winning in Super Stock


Expert race car builder Ray Miller III won in S/G 9.90 with his Chevy Camaro

The 37th annual NHRA Southern Nationals took place this past weekend and despite some initial  inclement weather, all competition was completed. David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala., and Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. Donaldsonville, La., led the winner’s circle for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

David Rampy squared off against Jeff Longhany, Wade, N.C. in the final round of Super Stock. Loghany started slightly too quick, activating the red light on the tree, giving Rampy the win; 10.198 seconds, 129.23 mph. Rampy closes in on 100 national event victories, as he earns his 94th national event Wally trophy.

In the Stock Eliminator final round, Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. grabbed a big hole shot and successfully held off Jerry Emmons, Pasadena, Texas for the win. Hidalgo Jr. made a victory pass of 10.849 seconds, 117.56 mph. Emmons runner upped at 10.526 seconds, 114.62 mph.

Top Sportsman standouts Sandy Wilkins, Mount Ulla, N.C. and Vince Hoda, D’Iberville, Miss., faced off for Top Sportsman glory. Hoda took the lead but Wilkins displayed resilience and was able to push past his Mississippi rival for the win in the Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs final round. Wilkins cruised to victory at 6.722, 198.70, Hoda followed up at 6.892, 198.15. Joe Fischer, Clayton, Ohio, reached his first final round in Top Dragster Presented By Racing RVs, and made the most of it. Kevin Brannon, Boiling Springs SC, took the starting line advantage but eased off the throttle as he experienced mechanical issues; Fischer took the win at 6.391 191.54. Brannon clocked in at 7.729 135.82.

The other drivers visiting the winner’s circle were Doug Wood in Super Street; Ray Miller III in Super Gas; and Luke Bogacki in Super Comp.

The following are the final results from the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway:

Stock Eliminator
Jimmy Hildalgo Jr., Pontiac GTO, 10.849, 117.56 def. Jerry Emmons, Chevy Camaro, 10.526, 114.62.

Super Comp
Luke Bogacki, Dragster, 8.914, 168.05 def. Tony Helms, Dragster, 8.888, 176.77.

Super Gas
Ray Miller III, Chevy Camaro, 10.549, 117.60 def. David Tatum III, Chevy, Foul – Red Light.

Super Street
Doug Wood, Olds Cutlass, 10.908, 133.50 def. Jeremy Hancock, Chevy Vega, 10.848, 138.34.

Top Sportsman presented by
Sandy Wilkins, Chevy, 6.722, 198.70 def. Vince Hoda, Chevy Camaro, 6.892, 198.15.

Top Dragster presented by
Joe Fisher, Dragster, 6.391, 191.54 def. Kevin Brannon, Dragster, 7.729, 135.82.

Jimmy Hidalgo won his Stock with his high-flying Pontiac

The Top Sportsman title went to the Sandy Wilkins nitrous-assisted Chevy Camaro

Posted with files by NHRA Communications, Keith Yazdanseta and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Marc Gewertz (NHRA) and Bruce Biegler