MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 30, 2012) - Lately it seems the only Funny Cars that block Ron Capps' path to the winner's circle are his teammates at Don Schumacher Racing.
"I knew (crew chief Tommy DeLago) and Matt had a really good racecar this weekend" Capps said, before the final. "Hopefully, Matt can go on and win this race and take care of some of these Countdown cars."
Hagan, the reigning Funny Car world champion, did not qualify for this year's six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff and was only able to knockout one Countdown contender, Tim Wilkerson, in the semifinals but Hagan lost to DSR teammate Jack Beckman in the championship round.
Capps started the weekend with a 96-point lead over Beckman, who moved to second behind Capps in the standings on Saturday. Capps left Gateway with a lead of 30 points, which is equivalent to winning two rounds, with three events remaining in the Countdown including next week's event at Reading, Pa.
"Losing always is bad, but it's intensified 10 times in the Countdown," said Capps, who won his first Funny Car title at St. Louis in 1997 and has since won 36 times. He has won a series-best four times this year including two weeks ago near Charlotte.
"Losing when we did and Jack winning cuts into our points lead but we're up two rounds going to Reading. That's the benefit of doing so well in the past two events and pocketing those points because there will be races like this, and in the Countdown the competition is just so tough ... especially my teammates.
"We haven't lost early yet; this was in the second round. I'm just spoiled because I have such a good racecar. It hurts to go out this early. If anyone in the Countdown says they're not counting every point when one guy wins and one guy loses, they're lying.
"That sound you heard after we lost was everybody in the Funny Car pit area cheering because we went out. That's how it is; I've been there. Everybody wants to gain ground. That's OK."
Capps opened the first round with a time of 4.072 seconds at 309.20 mph to beat Johnny Gray, another teammate and Countdown competitor. The run was the quickest of the day.
Against Hagan, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T began to lose traction. Capps masterfully pedaled the throttle and regained control but couldn't catch Hagan's 4.116.
"It just shook the tires loose," Capps said. "I caught it and started to run down Matt until I saw him cross the finish line. We just went up there trying to repeat what we did in the first round with a (4.07) or so. It just shook them loose.
"That's the way it is sometimes."
Source: Don Schumacher Racing