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Familiar names successfully defend Indy titles at 2023 NHRA U.S. Nationals

Antron Brown (2 TF) DSR-DSM AB Motorsports Toyota NHRA Top Fuel Dragster driver sees his niece in the crowd after winning the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series 69th Annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA US Nationals, Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2023, on Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Indiana. (David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — Each year, NHRA teams and drivers create big goals for themselves.

One of those goals is to win the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

In 2022, winners at the U.S. Nationals included Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Three of those racers claimed victories again on Monday during the 2023 U.S. Nationals finals, as Brown, Capps and Smith successfully defended their 2022 titles.

The victories didn’t necessarily come easy though. For instance, Brown, the No. 15 qualifier, was not qualified Sunday afternoon yet found his way into the winner’s circle. He beat No. 1 qualifier Steve Torrence in the final to earn his 74th victory of his career, which includes three Top Fuel Indy wins.

“This is one that was a getting-dirty win,” Brown said in a NHRA news release. “We went through all the trials and tribulations and that’s what makes this one so special, that through all the pain, all the stuff all the way through qualifying, we found a way as a team. Whether I was down, or Brian (Corradi, crew chief) gets down, the only one that’s got ice in your veins was (crew chief Mark) Oswald; he’s just like, ‘We still can do it.’ But we were down and out, brother, we had two strikes in that final qualifying section, we just hit an RBI and brought in the runs.

“We made a change to the clutch in Brainerd and thought we could work with it here, but it just wasn’t having it. Everything that we thought we were doing was wrong. We kept making changes until the end. Once we figured it out on that qualifying run — basically taking one [clutch disc[] out and another one in, we knew we had it for race day and we had a package we could tune on.”

Like Brown, Capps was able to defend his Indy title on Monday afternoon. He beat J.R. Todd in the Funny Car Final. His “car celebrated seven-time U.S. Nationals’ winner Prudhomme’s Indy win 50 years ago, when ‘the Snake’ became the first driver to win the “Big Go” in both Top Fuel and Funny Car,” according to the news release.

“I’ve been wanting to do a real throwback and thankfully the people that make decisions at NAPA Auto Parts for the motorsports teams understood the legacy and understood how cool this thing was and they stepped off the car and made sure that we did it the right way, and with Toyota, the same thing,” Capps said in a news release. “They wanted to be a part of it and then I called ‘Snake,’ and sent him the picture and have just been talking on the phone and how cool he thought it was.”

Matt Hartford won the Pro Stock title as well on Monday.