68th annual Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals one for the ages, my top 5 takeaways

CLERMONT, Ind — Antron Brown won his first Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals as a team owner. Ron Capps won his 1st US Nationals in 26 tries. Greg Anderson won his 100th career NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event while Matt Smith won his 2nd US Nationals of his career.

Capps winning here is a moment to behold and a celebration like John Force had when he won in 2019.

This weekend was nothing short of a wild event that was jam packed with storylines. Here’s my top 5 takeaways.

All-Time Winners

Antron Brown has won 70 times in his NHRA career. That’s 6th best. Ron Capps just won his 71st career NHRA win. That’s 5th best. Greg Anderson topped the century club joining just John Force (155) as drivers to win at least 100 times in NHRA history. Matt Smith’s 35 wins now rank him 5th most in Pro Stock Motorcycle history.

The big track just minutes to the east here picks its winners. It’s pretty clear the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals at IRP picks its winners too.

Justin Ashley this weekend in the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Weather Conditions Led To Chalk Fields

Usually, the Friday night passes end up setting most of the ladders for Monday’s eliminations. Cooler under the light conditions make way for the most ideal times to run. However, each person only gets 1 run that night. With day time conditions the rest of the way, usually it’s hard to make up time on the quick times set on Friday.

This year, the humidity was a bit higher on Friday and under most cloud covered skies for Saturday and Sunday, it allowed the cream to rise to the top. As a result, we saw few upsets.

The Funny Car field went chalk the entire way. In Top Fuel, the semi finals had No. 1, No. 2, No. 6 and No. 12.

In the end, the final round matchups were No. 1 vs. No. 6 in Top Fuel, No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Funny Car, No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Pro Stocks and No. 2 vs. No. 9 in Pro Stock Bikes.

Antron Brown at the Big Go in the US Nationals. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Brown, Kalitta Do What Was Needed To Get To The Countdown

Doug Kalitta has 49 career wins and 13 playoff appearances. 4 of the last 6 years he’s finished in the top 3 in points. Antron Brown also has 13 playoff appearances and 68 wins. He’s a 3-time Top Fuel champion.

Each were on the danger zones heading into the weekend. Kalitta was 9th in points (+53) with Brown in 10th (+29). Clay Millican (-29) and Austin Prock (-29) were also trying to force their ways in with this weekend’s race being the final one of the regular season.

There was a chance that either one or both of Kalitta and Brown wouldn’t make the playoffs. That would be shocking.

That didn’t end up happening.

Each marched all the way to the semifinals with Brown winning the race outright to stamp both of them back into the Countdown.

Kalitta was 2nd in points in both 2019 and again in 2020. However, he’s on a 39 race winless drought.

Kalitta holds the record with 25 straight seasons now with a top 10 finish in Top Fuel. He also holds the record for most career wins (49) without a title too. He’s finished runner-up in the standings five times but has never celebrated a season’s championship.

Brittany Force at the US Nationals. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Brittany Force Entering Capps Territory

The “Big Go” is huge for the Force family. They’ve combined to have 10 US Nationals crowds between them or their extended family. John Force has won 5 of these himself. Ashley Force Hood has won 2. Robert Hight is married to one of John Force’s daughters. He’s won 3 times. Was this now Brittany Force’s turn?

She was the No. 1 qualifier in each of the last 2 years but lost in the finals in each. 2021 to Steve Torrence. 2022 to Antron Brown.

She has 15 career NHRA wins but none here. After being so close so many times, will she ever get one?

Hight Calls Tasca Out, Backs It Up

Robert Hight saw Bob Tasca III coming along. However, he wasn’t scared. The points leader knew his ability and while Tasca had 5 final round appearances in the last 6 races entering the weekend including 3 wins in the last 4. Hight said “bring it on” about Tasca III on Friday night.

He even picked him in the first round of Sunday’s Callout. He beat him too. In the rematch on Monday in the Funny Car semifinals, Hight peddled it (5.751 ET) to the top end to Tasca’s 7.473 ET.

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