Ron Capps, racing the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger Funny Car, made an early exit at the 30th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, after being defeated by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in the quarterfinal.

No. 3 qualifier Capps first met up with Jim Head in the opening stanza, whom he defeated with a 4.363-second elapsed time at 233.03 mph and a shredded supercharger belt, as Head coasted to a 7.278/90.90 pass.

Without lane choice, Capps then faced Beckman in the quarterfinal. Both were bitten by NHRA's variable Christmas Tree timing system. Beckman launched with an uncharacteristic .199 reaction time (.000 is perfect), while Capps took the lead with a .063 reaction time, then lost traction, which he blamed on driver error. Beckman crossed the finish line first with a 4.202/296.67; Capps trailed with a 5.404/152.80.

"We got some cloud cover coming in and Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) was real comfortable about how we could run that lane. It was just a mental mistake by the driver," admitted Capps.

"And Jack had a .199 light, which isn't very normal for him as well. The variable Christmas Tree timing system (which regulates randomly when the amber lights come down) had one of the longest lights we've had in a long time. We were both waiting, waiting and waiting on the amber and I made a mental mistake, and it won't show to the normal fan, of letting go of the brake and letting the car roll and not hitting the gas normally. That creates havoc with all the timers that are set by the crew chiefs.

"I really felt like we were going to run an .18 or .19 and felt like we could have beaten him; it was just a mental mistake that I don't usually make and I shouldn't make.

"You could almost throw that run away. It's nothing Ace can even look at to analyze. When I don't do my normal routine it throws everything off. Those things happen. It's my job to not make that happen."

Next up is the 22nd annual NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, Kan., May 21-23.

Race Facts


(after eight events)

  1. John Force, 671
  2. Ashley Force Hood, 5561
  3. Robert Hight, 5512
  4. Jack Beckman, 538
  5. Ron Capps, 518
  6. Matt Hagan, 497
  7. Tony Pedregon, 459
  8. Bob Tasca III, 455
  9. Tim Wilkerson, 440
  10. Del Worsham, 413

1 Winner Today
2 Runner-Up Today