CAPPS EXTENDS FINALS WINNING STREAK OVER NHRA ICON FORCE TO THREE Doug Kalitta and Dave Connolly add wins in Top Fuel and Pro Stock TOPEKA, Kan. -- POWERade Series points leader Ron Capps made it a perfect three-for-three in 2006 final rounds ...
CAPPS EXTENDS FINALS WINNING STREAK OVER NHRA ICON FORCE TO THREE
Doug Kalitta and Dave Connolly add wins in Top Fuel and Pro Stock
TOPEKA, Kan. -- POWERade Series points leader Ron Capps made it a perfect three-for-three in 2006 final rounds against John Force when he sped past the tire-spinning NHRA icon in the Funny Car finals at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals.
Capps, who extended his lead to 109 points, was joined by Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta and red-hot Pro Stock racer Dave Connolly in the winner's circle at Heartland Park Topeka, site of the Memorial Day Weekend $1.9 million O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX.
Although Force holds a hefty 37-15 lead in lifetime head-to-head races against Capps, he's just 7-5 versus Capps when a trophy is on the line, including the dismal 0-3 mark he's accrued this year.
"It's fun running so tight against Force," said Capps, who became the first driver to win in the new Dodge Charger body. "When we get to the final it always seems like it's him in the other lane. It's hard to build a cushion. You get to a final and you end up hoping you don't lose the race and give him back 20 points. It's so brutal.
The Topeka final started off favoring Force, as he left the starting line three hundreds of a second ahead of Capps' Brut hot rod. But Force started hazing his tires at 400 feet and Capps was able to scoot past for an easy 4.992-second, 293.54-mph victory over Force's resigned 6.162-second run at 150.53 mph in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
Mac Tools racer Kalitta handed Budweiser's Brandon Bernstein his second career final-round loss in 12 tries with a wire-to-wire job on the son of six-time champion Kenny Bernstein. Both of Brandon's final-round losses have come against Kalitta, who trimmed Melanie Troxel's championship lead from 154 to 96 points at this event. Kalitta has won three of the last four races.
"We've definitely got some good momentum going right now," Kalitta said. "A lot of it has to do with the great support we get from our teammates. It's a great team effort over here with Connie [Kalitta] leading the whole thing. We're having some fun and we feel like we can give anyone a run this year."
The first repeat winner in the Pro Stock class, Connolly has won two of the last three races since crew chief Tommy Utt took over tuning duties on his Skull Gear Chevrolet Cobalt. He's moved from 12th to fifth place in the rankings during his recent streak.
"It's been a complete 180-degree turnaround since Tommy came on board," Connolly said. "The deal is that all engines are run differently with the chassis you use. The fact Tommy has worked with Cagnazzi horsepower before made it super easy for him to come in here and apply what he knows to our car. He didn't need to adjust to anything new."
Greg Anderson's semifinal finish helped him increase his lead in the POWERade standings from 30 to 73 points over teammate Jason Line.
For the ninth time in nine events to begin the 2006 season, neither of the No. 1 qualifiers in the nitro categories (Melanie Troxel in Top Fuel or Robert Hight in Funny Car) won the race. Troxel was ousted by Bernstein in the quarterfinals while Hight was beaten by Capps in the semifinals.