Ron Capps continued his solid run at Gateway International Raceway today at the 14th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. He didn't score his fourth national event victory here, but he still leaves as the winningest Funny Car driver at Gateway (three wins). He reached the semifinal round after defeating Jeff Arend and Del Worsham, then had the exit door opened to him by eventual event winner Robert Hight in the semifinal round.

Capps was on a roll in eliminations, driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger. He posted a 4.157-second ET at 300.26 mph, the quickest pass of the day until Hight’s 4.149 in the cooler final round, and quicker than his No. 4 qualifying pass, to dismiss Jeff Arend. He then pulled out another stout (and quicker than in qualifying) 4.181/286.50 to oust Del Worsham in the quarterfinal.

In the semis, without lane choice, he launched a mere tick ahead of a resurgent Hight. But Hight chased him down to take the victory by nine feet with a 4.159/297.48 to Capps' losing yet solid 4.182/293.73.

"We got the lane we would have chosen," said Capps, who won the first two rounds out of the left lane. "Robert's team chose the right lane because they had run so good there the run before. Sometimes you're just on the wrong side of the ladder and you end up running somebody that you should be racing in the final round. That's the way it goes.

"Having a crew chief like Jimmy Prock over there, you know they're going to wake up sooner or later during the weekend," added Capps, of Hight's team, which had been struggling in the last few races. "And we knew they were going to figure it out and when they did they were going to run well.

"I told Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch), even in the heat today on race day, to run that 4.15 was incredible. That was the quickest run of the race day until the final.

"We've been experimenting with some new in-house parts that Ace is working real hard at. We stayed in Vegas and tested and it was a very good test for us. He decided to leave everything in it and run it here. I think it's very gratifying to see how hard he's worked and have the car respond the way it did here on race day, because it gave me a lot of confidence. I can see, as we went on with the day, there was more and more confidence building up on the team.

""At this point of the season, we're moving around in points, but nothing starts happening until later in the year when the Countdown gets close. I feel like right now, as usual, our NAPA car is always capable of winning and we're showing that we can even do a little bit of experimenting, some testing, and still have one of the quicker cars at a race. So that's encouraging."

Next up is the 30th annual NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., May 14-16.

Race Facts


(after six of 23 events)

  1. John Force, 616
  2. Matt Hagan, 465
  3. Jack Beckman, 4642
  4. Ron Capps, 459
  5. Ashley Force Hood, 455
  6. Robert Hight, 4271
  7. Tony Pedregon, 405
  8. Tim Wilkerson, 387
  9. Del Worsham, 378
  10. Jeff Arend, 285

1 Winner Today
2 Runner-Up Today