Ron Capps raced to his fifth Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals and cut Jack Beckman's series lead to four points with one race remaining in the season.
Bob Vandergriff Jr. (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the penultimate race in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It’s a fun car to go to Pomona with and actually have a shot at a championship.
Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to a performance of 4.070 seconds at 315.12 mph to hold off Beckman's Schumacher Electric Charger in a dramatic final round. Capps also defeated Tony Pedregon, top qualifier Cruz Pedregon and Johnny Gray in earlier rounds to claim his 38th career victory and move ever closer to earning that elusive first world championship title. The veteran driver has finished second three times in his career.
“Qualifying was tough," Capps said. "Rahn Tobler, our crew chief, was like, ‘OK, we’re alright. We’re alright. We’re sneaking up on it. We’re just trying to get down the track,’ until today. Oh man, he unleashed that 4.09 in one of the biggest rounds of the year because we didn't have lane choice — Cruz Pedregon went 4.06 first round. We were taking a pistol to a gunfight. I don’t think we were very comfortable that we could go up there and run that in that right lane. To throw down that 4.09 like he did was unbelievable, and then we come back with a 4.08 and 4.07. It’s a fun car to go to Pomona with and actually have a shot at a championship.”
“We’ve had a great race car all weekend," Vandergriff said. "It’s been a year since my last win, and we certainly didn’t think it would take that long to win again,” Vandergriff Jr. said. “Everybody said this next one comes easy. Well, I think they’re full of it because they don’t come easy. That’s just a great job by the guys. We had a great car all weekend. It ran good. We made four great runs today. First round was a little tough. It got hot out there, but other than that, our car was pretty flawless.”
The Top Fuel championship landscape changed a bit when series points leader Antron Brown lost to Al-Anabi Racing’s Khalid alBalooshi in round one after his Matco Tools dragster encountered engine issues midway down the track. FRAM/Prestone dragster driver Spencer Massey, who is currently third in points, was defeated by Vandergriff in the quarterfinals. With the runner-up finish Schumacher moved to second overall, 65 points back of leader Brown.
“The Mopar Dodge Avenger has just been so consistent,” Johnson said. “Consistency is what we’ve preached all year, and today, how was that for consistency with four 6.63s in the heat of the day? The crew is doing an awesome job, and to cushion that point lead there to where we feel a little bit more comfortable at Pomona is great.”
GK Motorsports driver Erica Enders was defeated in round two by eventual runner-up Nobile and his Mountain View Tire team. With the loss, she is mathematically out of title contention.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec earned his ninth win of the 2012 season after defeating Matt Smith with a performance of 6.959 at 194.10.
With the victory, Krawiec increased his series lead to 111 over Andrew Hines, who lost in the second round.