NHRA: Johnson Closes In On Capps; Leads Quartet Of Maple Grove Winners

RaceChaser Staff Drag Racing, Featured, NHRA 0 Comments

Tommy Johnson Jr. beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps to win in Funny Car at Maple Grove Raceway on Sunday. (NHRA photo)

Tommy Johnson Jr. beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps to win in Funny Car at Maple Grove Raceway on Sunday. (NHRA photo)

READING, Pa. — Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to the Funny Car victory on Sunday during the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious in their respective categories at the 21st event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

The race was also the third of six in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Johnson powered his Make A Wish Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.895-second pass at 330.63 mph in the final round, defeating teammate and points leader Ron Capps’ 3.911 at 324.12 driving the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.

Johnson, who has raced to the final round in all three NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship events so far this season, claimed his 14th career victory, second of the season and first at Maple Grove Raceway. He is second in the points to Capps and cut his deficit to 24 with the win.

The eventual winner beat Cruz Pedregon, Mike Smith and Jack Beckman en route to his fifth final round of the season.

“You want to have a strong start in the Countdown; we knew that going into it,” said Johnson, who was the runner-up at Maple Grove in 2014. “We went from seventh to fourth in Charlotte – a runner-up is good – then we went to St. Louis and got a another runner-up and went to second, and I said I’d be happy with four more runner-ups, but when you look in the other lane and it’s Capps, who’s leading the points, it’s a must-win. You’ve got to gain some ground.”

In Top Fuel, Brown raced his dragster to a 3.721 at 317.34 to beat Brittany Force’s 3.721 at 324.67 in her dragster. Brown had a better reaction time and won on a holeshot.

The defending and two-time world champion tallied his 60th career win, sixth of the season and second consecutive at Maple Grove, holding on to and extending his points lead in Top Fuel with the win.

Nobile earned his first victory of 2016 by posting a 6.575 at 209.85 in his Chevy Camaro, defeating seven-time season winner Greg Anderson’s 6.582 at 210.37 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro for KB Racing.

Nobile entered the event with two-runner up finishes on the season and ended a 56-race winless drought with the breakthrough performance. It marks the 10th victory of his career and first at Reading.

After qualifying No. 1, Nobile moved to third in the Pro Stock points standings with the win, trailing only Jason Line and Anderson, respectively.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec rode his Harley-Davidson to a 6.818 at 193.88, outlasting rookie Cory Reed’s 6.958 at 186.43 in the final round.

Sunday marked Krawiec’s 35th career victory, fourth of 2016 and fourth at Maple Grove Raceway. The three-time world champion started the weekend fifth in points, but moves up to second behind teammate Andrew Hines.

The NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Champion continues Oct. 13-16, with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

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