An exciting Sunday of racing at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Raceway was highlighted by Funny Car veteran Ron Capps’ first career national event victory at the sports’ most fabled venue, and the return of Pro Stock Motorcycle icon Angelle Sampey to the winner’s circle after nearly half a decade. As well, Steve Torrence survived a wild Top Fuel finale with Terry McMillen, Jeg Coughlin, Jr. defeated his nephew, Troy Coughlin, Jr. in an all-JEGS Pro Stock final, and Jonathan Gray came out on the winning side of an all-nitrous, all-Rickie Smith Racing Pro Mod finale.
Ron Capps picked up his first career win at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, racing to the Funny Car victory on Sunday at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil and also giving the longtime standout a win at every track on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the fifth race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and third straight at Indy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Capps won for the first time in 2020 and 65th time in his career with a final-round run of 4.110-seconds at 294.63 mph in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat J.R. Todd in a battle of former world champs. It also gives Don Schumacher Racing its seventh straight Funny Car win and the organization its 349th overall win. Capps beat Tim Wilkerson, Blake Alexander and Bob Tasca III to reach his first final round of the year, leading to a memorable celebration after the first-time Indy win.
“We’ve been coming here 23 years and I’ve never won at this track,” Capps said. “For a driver to say he has won on every track on the (NHRA) circuit, that tells you the talent that is around Don Schumacher, Dodge, Pennzoil, (and) especially NAPA Auto Parts. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m so proud to drive that race car. We’ve been coming to Indy so many years.
“My wife lives this dream through me. I get emotional here, but she understands the mood swings when you don’t do well and you go home and it’s something we love to do. It’s the best job in the world. Our family members have been coming here for years wanting to be here when I won Indy. I’m so bummed they’re not here, but this (trophy) is going back and it might be a week-long party. I can guarantee you that.”
Todd reached the final round for the first time in 2020 and 34th overall with victories against Mike McIntire, Cruz Pedregon and Paul Lee.
Defending and back-to-back Top Fuel world champ Torrence picked up his second win of the year and 38th overall in unconventional fashion on Sunday, outlasting Terry McMillen in the finals with a run of 4.273 at 22
4.17 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence smoked the tires and pedaled the car late in the run, but held off McMillen, who was late on the starting line. It gave Torrence his first victory since the NHRA restart last month, advancing to the final round after victories against Luigi Novelli, Justin Ashley and Leah Pruett.
“I’m not the best at pedaling one of these things, but I try to do my job,” Torrence said. “We go out there and we knocked the tire off, and it kind of surprised me, but I did the best I could do. All the guys at Capco, thank you for supporting us and I got my head out of my butt. We’re headed home with another Wally and it’s a blessing to be able to come back out here and get to enjoy what we enjoy doing. We just love to race.”
McMillen, who qualified in the No. 1 spot for the first time in his career, beat Lex Joon, Billy Torrence and points leader Doug Kalitta to reach the final round for the ninth time.
In Pro Stock, it was an all-Coughlin final round, as five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove past nephew and first-time Pro Stock finalist Troy Coughlin Jr. in the championship round with a 6.680 at 206.92 in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro. It gave the points leader his second win of the year and 65th in his career. Jeg Coughlin, who is retiring from full-time action following the season, knocked off Val Smeland, Elite Motorsports teammate Alex Laughlin and longtime rival Greg Anderson to reach his 114th final and first against his nephew.
“This is huge, without question,” Jeg Coughlin said. “I’ve loved having Troy Jr. coming with us week in, week out and I knew I would have my hands full with him in the finals. We’ve been pretty good and what a weekend. We’re going to celebrate and we’re looking forward to getting to the next race.”
Making just his second career NHRA Pro Stock start, Troy Coughlin beat fellow class rookie Kyle Koretsky, teammate and defending world champ Erica Enders and Jason Line, who won the previous race.
It was an emotional scene in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as Sampey picked up her first win since 2016 and 43rd overall, going 6.880 at 196.07 in the final round on her Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson EBR to beat Chris Bostick. Sampey, who celebrated her birthday on Friday, won for the third time at Indy. She knocked off Steve Johnson, defending world champion Andrew Hines and Scotty Pollacheck to reach the final round, adding another victory in her impressive career as the NHRA’s winningest female competitor.
“I just tried to stay calm,” said Sampey, who had a .001 reaction time in the finals. “I didn’t know if we were going to get the bike fixed and I just said I’m going to stay calm. They got it fixed and thank you to Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson. I told you I was going to do this.”
Bostick played the underdog role well on Sunday, reaching his first career final round with wins against Angie Smith, Ryan Oehler, who won the previous race in Indy, and multi-time champ Eddie Krawiec.
Jonathan Gray raced to his first career E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory since 2017 on Sunday as at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, slipping past Bo Butner in the final round as part of the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil.
The Pro Mod race, which was presented by Jerry Bickel Race Cars, was the second of the 2020 season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. Gray went 5.5850-seconds at 249.49 mph in his nitrous-powered Camaro to knock off Butner, who went 5.899 at 248.48 in the finals. It gave Gray his second career win in the class in a matchup that featured two standouts driving for the injured Rickie Smith, a multi-time champ in the class.
Prior to last month’s NHRA Pro Mod season-opener, Gray had not raced in the class for nearly three years. But he impressed on Sunday in Indy, reaching the final round with victories against Jeffrey Barker, No. 1 qualifier Khalid Albalooshi and former world champ Mike Janis.
“I’ve got the best in the business out here and I couldn’t be happier driving for Rickie Smith,” Gray said. “He’s been a mentor to me and we won in Indy, so it’s a big step in the right direction. I’m just thrilled to death and really, really happy.”
Butner, who made his NHRA Pro Mod debut last month in Indy, also reached his first career final round in a nitrous Camaro usually driven by Smith. He knocked off Brandon Pesz, Clint Satterfield and Kris Thorne to set up the matchup with Gray.
Sunday’s final results from the Inaugural Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The race is the fifth event of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season:
Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 4.273 seconds, 224.17 mph def. Terry McMillen, 4.153 seconds, 240.59 mph.
Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.110, 294.63 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 10.318, 80.06.
Pro Stock — Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.680, 206.92 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Ford Mustang, 18.623, 43.91.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.880, 196.07 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.950, 191.78.