LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2012) – Ron Capps started the NHRA Countdown to the Championship as the points leader and built it to 96 points after the second of six playoff events.
But after losing the lead at the fifth event to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, Capps started this weekend trailing by 23 points.
Capps won his series-best fifth Funny Car event title Sunday by beating Beckman in the championship round of the NHRA Nationals near Las Vegas. The victory pulled him to within four points of the lead in his quest for the first NHRA world championship of his 15-year professional racing career.
Capps and the NAPA Carlyle Tools Dodge Charger R/T, tuned by crew chief Rahn Tobler, was the dominant car in championship eliminations in the 22nd of 23 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events and saved their best run for their last at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Capps completed his last run with the team’s best effort of the weekend with an elapsed time of 4.070 seconds at 315.12 mph to easily beat Beckman, whose Dodge lost traction early and spun the tires.
“It showed how this team can battle back,” Capps said. “Qualifying was tough, and again Rahn kept saying ‘we’re alright, we’re alright we’re just sneaking up on it.’”
The day started when Capps beat two-time world champion Tony Pedregon in the first round and then eliminated his brother Cruz, another two-time world champ, in the second round. In the semifinals, Capps beat DSR teammate Johnny Gray.
The NAPA team had a rough time in qualifying and was the eighth quickest to make the 16-car eliminations field. But Capps knew Tobler would have his Dodge ready to run Sunday when the team improved on each run by going 4.105, 4.095 and 4.086 before recording its best effort of the weekend to beat Beckman.
“Our win over Cruz in the second round might be one we look back on as our biggest of the season, Capps said. “Cruz ran (4.06) in the first round and we didn’t have lane choice against him. It looked like we were taking a pistol to a gunfight. I don’t think we were very comfortable about being able to throw down a 4.09 like Rahn did. That was unbelievable. And then to come back with an .08 and .07 ... it’s a fun car to drive and to take to Pomona.”
And Capps and Tobler saved their best for the last round.
“To go up there and beat Jack was huge. We’re both fighting for that first championship ring. I wake up in the morning thinking about it and go to bed thinking about it. And we’re close.”
The following are Capps’ results from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway near Las Vegas:
Event winner: Ron Capps (DSR)
No. 1 qualifier: Cruz Pedregon (Cruz Pedregon Racing) 4.066 sec., 312.50 mph
RON CAPPS NAPA Carlyle Tools Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 8
First round: CAPPS (4.105 sec., 310.77 mph) def. Tony Pedregon (4.625, 187.68)
Second round: CAPPS (4.095, 312.28) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.119, 306.05)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.086, 311.92) def. Johnny Gray (6.256, 103.94)
Final: CAPPS (4.070, 315.12) def. Jack Beckman (8.455, 74.33)
Session 1: 4.098 sec., 308.78 mph
Session 2: 8.023, 82.90
Session 3: 4.128, 307.37
Session 4: 4.191, 301.40
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENTS
Nov. 8-11; Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(unofficial through Oct. 28)
(*mathematically eliminated from championship contention)