KENT, Wash. (July 19, 2009) – Ron Capps regained a solo hold on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car class points lead at this weekend's NHRA Northwest Nationals, first by qualifying ahead of Ashley Force Hood, and then by landing in the semifinals, where he bowed out to Tim Wilkerson.
Driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car, Cappxs disposed of Cruz Pedregon in the opening round of eliminations on a hot and tricky Pacific Raceways drag strip with a 4.206-second pass at 290.26 mph, then outran his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in the second round using a 4.250/273.33 pass.
Facing Tim Wilkerson in the semifinal round was a tough draw, and he and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch knew it. As expected, it was a tight contest, with Wilkerson edging out Capps with a winning 4.243/281.60 lap to Capps' 4.291/284.21.
"We came to find out it broke a clutch lever during that run," said Capps. "We felt like we could have run another 4.21 or 4.22 and we were going to have to because Tim Wilkerson has been tough all day. And that was a big match-up.
"I've got to tell you, the most exciting part about this whole weekend was the fact that we brought something to test and Ace was really happy with it on Friday. He left it in for Saturday and now we're going to leave it in for the rest of the season. He is tickled to death with it and that makes me even more excited.
"The NAPA car is making so much power that he's had to kind of tame everything down a little bit. And that's a good sign for later in the year when we get some really good conditions at the upcoming tracks. Right now we’re going to Sonoma (Calif., next weekend), where it's going to be hot, much like it was this weekend, and then of course to Brainerd (Minn., the race following Sonoma), where it'll be humid and hot.
"For Ace to get a handle on what we tested here and make the runs we made and go all the way to the semifinals and actually be second-low ET for the first round and low ET of the second round was a huge accomplishment.
"We do see the Countdown on the horizon. Even though we're not really counting points at this stage, we are well aware of the importance of leaving the U.S. Nationals with the points lead and those 20 bonus points before the Countdown begins.”
Next up is the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., July 24-26.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, after 14 of 24 events:
1. Ron Capps, 1039
2. Ashley Force Hood, 1018
3. Tony Pedregon, 1009 (runner-up today)
4. Jack Beckman, 855
5. Tim Wilkerson, 804 (winner today)
6. Del Worsham, 791
7. Bob Tasca III, 787
8. John Force, 739
9. Mike Neff, 683
10. Matt Hagan, 669
11. Cruz Pedregon, 662
12. Robert Hight, 626