Story By: NHRA – COMMERCE, GA – Ron Capps picked up the most recent Funny Car victory at Atlanta Dragway, doing so at the track in 2019. The former world champion also hopes to be the final Funny Car winner in Atlanta.
This weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway marks the 40th and final race at Georgia’s House of Speed for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, making it a celebration of the track’s renowned history. Capps has made his share of history in Atlanta, winning three times and going out with the final victory would mark another significant accomplishment for the standout driver.
“I guarantee if you ask any driver going into this last race, they all want to take that last trophy,” Capps said. “Everyone is chomping at the bit to get back to somewhat of a normal schedule and you put that together with the last race in Atlanta, and this is big. It’s always had a unique feel and as our sport has grown, the track has kept that old-school feel to it. There’s very few tracks on the circuit left like that, and it has a really cool nostalgic feel to it.”
The last racing action at Atlanta took place in 2019, where Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Capps (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines all picked up victories (Pro Stock Motorcycle). This year’s race will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage of the historic race taking place on Sunday, May 2. It is the third race of the 2021 season and Capps is eager to keep pushing forward in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
He qualified No. 1 in Gainesville and advanced to the final quad in Las Vegas, giving Capps a solid start to the new year. A fourth Funny Car win in Atlanta would put him only behind John Force for the most in track history, but Capps will also have to get by the likes of defending champ and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, Gainesville winner J.R. Todd, Las Vegas winner Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson and Cruz Pedregon.
“I feel like both race we had a really good or great chance to win and anytime you can say that, you feel good about things,” said Capps, who has 66 career wins. “In Gainesville we had a great, consistent car and in Las Vegas we were consistent all day long. When you’re waking up Sunday morning feeling like you have a chance to win, it’s a really good feeling. Things have gone well.”
Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta has also enjoyed plenty of memorable Atlanta moments, winning three times at the track. The most exciting came in 2016 when he nipped Todd in a near dead-heat in the final round, winning by less than .001 second, or four-tenths of an inch. It was the closest final round in Top Fuel history, but after his usual strong start to the season in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, Kalitta is ready to put together one final Atlanta memory.
A win would give him four at the track, tying him with Larry Dixon and Antron Brown for the most in Top Fuel history at Atlanta, and it would also hand the veteran standout his 50th career Top Fuel win. It would be a remarkable landmark moment to close out nitro racing in Atlanta, but Kalitta will have to beat the likes of Torrence, who won in Vegas, teammate Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican, Brittany Force, Leah Pruett and Gainesville winner Josh Hart to do it.
“Atlanta Dragway has a ton of history, and the fans have always been great and super supportive,” Kalitta said. “(Winning the final race) would be something very cool for me, for sure. My Mac Tools dragster has been running really well so we will be trying to make sure we are the last dragster down the track at the Southern Nationals.”
Pro Stock last raced at the track in 2018, while Greg Anderson has a shot to tie Warren Johnson for the most wins in Atlanta with five. Other top contenders include Vegas winner Erica Enders, who is after her first Atlanta victory, Troy Coughlin Jr., Deric Kramer and Mason McGaha.
Standouts in Pro Stock Motorcycle will look for a perfect send-off in Atlanta as well. Angelle Sampey has four career victories at the track, while the likes of Vegas winner Ryan Oehler, defending world champ Matt Smith, Jerry Savoie and Steve Johnson are looking for their first.
The race also includes thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service will make its second appearance in 2021. Jose Gonzalez won the opening race, while Mike Castellana won in Atlanta in 2019. Alsum Farms/Wisconsin Potatoes is the presenting Pro Mod sponsor in Atlanta.
The Southeast Nostalgia Pro Stock Association will also be in action during the weekend at Atlanta Dragway. A number of classic Pro Stock cars will make runs throughout the weekend, and all the cars will be on display in a special pit display at the track. A total of six racers are scheduled to make a run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Atlanta Dragway will also host the Sealmaster Track Walk on Sunday before racing action begins.
Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds on Saturday, May 1 at 12:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. ET. Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 2.