CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 22, 2009) -Ron Capps drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car straight into the winner's circle for the second consecutive event in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, and is undefeated in 2009!
Capps and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch proved once again that they are serious about winning their first Funny Car championship this year, as No. 1 qualifier Capps charged through the field to claim his 27th career national-event win (26th in Funny Car) in 56 final rounds, marking the first time he has won from the No. 1 position.
Capps first dismissed Jeff Arend with a 4.105-second elapsed time at 305.91 mph, and then his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan with a 4.118/304.67. As the day wore on, Capps got even quicker, sending home Del Worsham with a 4.079/304.46.
In the final round, he was given a breather, as Mike Neff failed to engage reverse gear after the clutch linkage broke and continued straight after his burnout. Despite the guaranteed win, Capps tore down the 1000 feet in an even quicker 4.048 seconds at 306.81 mph.
Capps credited his crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch for the NAPA team’s newfound success this season. “He's the man," said Capps in the winner's circle. "He's done well in his career, driven Funny Cars, Top Fuel dragsters. He's my hero. I can't tell you how I feel right now. More than anything [this win is great] for the NAPA guys and for Ace. He really worked hard in the off season and kind of started from scratch with the tune-up.
"It's like a really good cook learning how to cook again completely differently. The car is just so different to run, to feel, and it puts me in the trunk at half-track. It's so much fun to drive and when the win light comes on, it's even better.
"To run the 4:04 in the final was awesome. Ace could've just tried to go down the track, but he wanted to give the fans the best run this weekend.
"Our focus this year is to roll into each race and rip their hearts out in each run, focus on winning each race. The points will come, the Countdown will come. Honestly, Ace had this look in his eye like, 'get out of my way, and [to me], 'you'd better hang on because you're going in the trunk of this car when it gets out there.'
"It's a great feeling, because we were embarrassed by not winning any races last year. We flat out didn't give NAPA what they deserved. And they came on board when they saw what we did in 2005-2007 (11 wins) and those three years were great. This is what we should have been doing last year."
McCulloch is still absorbing it all. "I'm not sure that it's really sunk in yet," he said. "We struggled a little bit. We struggled in testing, we went to Pomona, struggled a little bit, got through there. We came here, struggled a little bit. I told some of the guys earlier, I don't like racing the car the way it is. I'm not happy with it, but when it comes time to step up to the plate, we've got to step up to the plate.
"It was good. Running what we did in the semifinals and then when Zippy (Neff) had his malfunction out there, Ron asked me, 'Do you want me to shut it off?’ If we shut if off there is always the thought [by the competing team] that 'Well, if we had only made it we'd have beaten 'em.' I told Ron, Don't shut it off, because if it makes it down there it's going to run pretty good. Let's send a message. Run it."
Note: Capps is the first Funny Car driver since John Force in 1997 to win the first two events back to back.
Next up is the 40th annual NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 13-15.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS following two events:
1. Ron Capps, 229 (winner today)
2. Del Worsham, 132
3. Robert Hight, 132
4. Mike Neff, 129 (runner-up today)
5. Jim Head, 124
6. Bob Tasca III, 107
7. Jack Beckman, 105
8. Gary Densham, 104
9. Ashley Force Hood, 88
10. Matt Hagan, 84