TOPEKA, Kan. (May 31, 2009) – Ron Capps raced the NAPA Adaptive One Brakes Dodge Funny Car to his fourth win of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in five final rounds today at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
En route to his 29th career victory in 59 final rounds (28 in FC, one in TF), No. 7 qualifier Capps defeated 14-time Funny Car champion John Force and his two Don Schumacher Racing teammates (Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman) to face popular Ashley Force Hood in the final round.
Every team on the property had struggled to get down the track under steamy conditions Friday and Saturday, but Capps and crew chief Ed “Ace” McCulloch conquered Sunday's heat with consistent passes of 4.280/284.09 against Matt Hagan, 4.298/275.51 to defeat John Force, 4.289/286.68 to dismiss Jack Beckman, and finally a 4.265/286.07 to beat Force Hood's 4.495/238.26. "We 4.20'd them to death today," said Capps.
"It really came around probably from second round on after we beat John Force in the right lane," added Capps, who extended his points lead to 119 over Del Worsham. "Everybody was saying there was no way you're going to get down that track. And (crew chief) Ed McCulloch just kept plugging away.
"We dropped cylinders all weekend long and finally in the semis it only ran a 4.28, but that was the first full run. It was a smooth run for me as a driver and I thought it would have run better, but when I came back and told Ace how smooth it was he said, ‘Well, I'm going to get after it in the final.’
"We figured they (Force Hood and crew chief Dean Antonelli) were going to step up like they were capable of doing. They were No. 1 qualifier and we figured they were going to run a mid-4.20 and I was going to have to do my job on the starting line. And for Ace to pull out a 4.26 in the final round on a 125-degree track was incredible.
"What a great feeling. The best part is that running the Adaptive One Brakes body was a one-race deal for Bristol for NAPA AUTO PARTS and we were kind of disappointed when we went out in the second round there because we really wanted to give that body a win.
"Halfway through the week, NAPA decided to run the body again. So we, pulled it out of the trailer and put it back on and what a fitting way to put it up in the rafters. Just a great, great deal of pride running that body. This was a huge race win for everyone at NAPA, Adaptive One and DSR.
"It's great not to worry about points and not to look at the Countdown at all. I want to emphasize how hard Ace has worked. Obviously, he's trying to tune the car, but he's worked hard on making the car react better for me as a driver. It's something a lot of crew chiefs wouldn't do, and it's really given me a lot of confidence. It's great right now."
"Today was a day that you had to focus on not smoking the tires," said McCulloch, who won this race as a driver in 1992. "If you don't smoke the tires you give yourself a chance to win. But I think everybody raced that kind of race today because everybody, for the most part, went down the race track, even though the numbers weren't stellar.
"It's like everything that you do; it's a team win. Ron can be on his game but if the car isn't there it's no good. It was a good day. It was the first day in a long summer and we're going to see a lot of races like this and a lot of tracks like this, and you just have to race smart."
Next up is the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., June 5-7.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, after nine events:
1. Ron Capps, 729 (winner today)
2. Del Worsham, 610
3. Ashley Force Hood, 603 (runner-up today)
4. Tony Pedregon, 584
5. Jack Beckman, 553
6. Tim Wilkerson, 498
7. Matt Hagan, 480
8. Bob Tasca III, 460
9. John Force, 453
10. Cruz Pedregon, 420
11. Mike Neff, 404
12. Robert Hight, 378