Finishing second to DSR teammate by 2 points does not diminish remarkable season by Capps, Tobler, NAPA team


Not again.

And not by a mere two points.

Ron Capps completed a sensational season of NHRA Funny Car drag racing but was edged out of winning a championship on the last day of the season and finished runner-up for the fourth time.

And for the second time, it was another Don Schumacher Racing teammate to further delay the realization of Capps’ dream.

Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler were unable to catch teammate Jack Beckman, who started Sunday with a two-point lead over Capps.

“It’s been one of those seasons. It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” said Capps, who switched crews with Beckman after not qualifying for the fourth event of the season. The reorganization also included moving crew chief Rahn Tobler from Beckman to Capps.

“We changed crews, and I got hooked up with Rahn Tobler,” Capps said. “The unfortunate part is we had such a great record-setting year; six final rounds in a row and then to set the quickest run in the history of the (Funny Car) in Englishtown. I just felt like it was almost, you know, it’d be a bummer if we couldn’t end it with a championship finally.

“It hurts a lot, but it’s encouraging we have Rahn and all our crew guys coming back for next year at least.”

What upset Capps most, just a few moments after his season ended, was when 16-year-old daughter Taylor ran to him at the end of the track after the last run.

“I was OK until my daughter was emotional down there. She came over and hugged me. She was crying so she made me start crying. I was fine until then. I felt like someone stole my dog, not just kicked it. She comes over and hugs me and she’s bawling. What are you gonna do? Your little girl’s bawling, so I’m bawling.”

To win the world championship, Capps needed to win one more round than Beckman in eliminations. In the semifinals, Capps was the first pair to run and his impressive run of 4.091 seconds at 313.95 mph was topped by rookie Courtney Force’s 4.069 (318.24).

That means a mere 0.0195 seconds denied Capps the world championship.

Capps rallied from sitting in the 16th qualifying position on Saturday evening to win the pole in the night’s last qualifying session.

Capps defeated former world champ Tony Pedregon in the first round and another world champion, Robert Hight, in the second round.

“The hard part is you can sit in the offseason and you look back to find where you could have gained those two points,” Capps said. “Things like that will eat you alive if you let it. It’s like a football team or a baseball team at the end of the season, looking back at how they lost. Hopefully I won’t have to do that again.”

His optimism is buoyed by knowing Tobler and his entire crew will return next season after winning a series-best five event titles in eight championship rounds, and three poles.

“I’ll just try to look forward and I know we’ve got a great team. We’re gonna come out swinging in 2013 so that’ll be fun.”

The following are Capps’ results at Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway:

FUNNY CAR
Event winner: Cruz Pedregon (Cruz Pedregon Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Ron Capps (DSR) 4.007, 319.29

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
1st round: CAPPS (4.092 sec., 311.13 mph) def. Tony Pedregon (4.150, 278.92)
2nd round: CAPPS (4.071, 315.19) def. Robert Hight (5.452, 143.12)
Semifinals: Courtney Force (4.069, 318.24) def. CAPPS (4.091, 313.95)

NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Unofficial final standings; DSR drivers in CAPS)
TOP FUEL

  1. ANTRON BROWN, 2,555
  2. TONY SCHUMACHER, 2,548
  3. SPENCER MASSEY, 2,505
  4. Shawn Langdon, 2,450
  5. Brandon Bernstein, 2,450
  6. Doug Kalitta, 2,341
  7. Morgan Lucas, 2,338
  8. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 2,336
  9. Steve Torrence, 2,300
  10. David Grubnic, 2,260

2013 MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES OPENER
Feb. 14-17, 2013: 53rd annual NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Race Facts

NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial final standings; DSR drivers in CAPS)

  1. JACK BECKMAN, 2,610
  2. RON CAPPS, 2,608
  3. Mike Neff, 2,497
  4. Cruz Pedregon, 2429
  5. Courtney Force, 2383
  6. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,357
  7. Robert Hight, 2302
  8. Tim Wilkerson, 2,293
  9. John Force, 2,281
  10. Jeff Arend, 2,267
  11. MATT HAGAN, 1,216