Bristol: Ron Capps final summary

CAPPS OUSTS FORCE IN BRISTOL FINAL, WINS THIRD RACE OF SEASON BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 30, 2006) - Funny Car points leader Ron Capps continues to tear up the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series quarter-miles with the outstanding performance...


BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 30, 2006) - Funny Car points leader Ron Capps continues to tear up the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series quarter-miles with the outstanding performance consistency of the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. He did it again today, disposing of 13-time Funny Car champion John Force in the final round of the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway - on a holeshot advantage.

Capps won his third race of the season, 20th of his career in 42 finals, and extended his points lead over Force to 122 (602-480).

En route to his fifth final round in six events of 2006, the California native sent Scott Kalitta packing in the first round with a 4.782-second elapsed time at 296.50 mph, then bounced out No. 1 qualifier Eric Medlen with a 4.857/318.39 in the second, and his teammate Gary Scelzi in the semis with another steady 4.821/318.47 before meeting up with Force in the final.

With lane choice, Capps launched first off the line with an .080 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Force's .104. That was enough to take the win over Force with a slower but winning 4.793/319.52. Force crossed the line nine feet later, posting a quicker but losing 4.788/310.13.

Capps' round win record against Force is now 14-37, with Capps winning seven of their last 10 meetings. He is now 6-1 versus Force since St. Louis in 2005. Capps' only loss was in the semis in Phoenix this year, the only race in which Capps didn't reach the finals.

"It's just a good win," he said of beating Force. "You're going into the final and the first thing I think of is we're giving the fans something for their money. They want a big match-up in the final. It's the intrigue that keeps the fans glued to the TV, and if the points leader - myself - and Force are going to square off in the final, I think that's great for the sport.

"When [track and TV announcers play it up] I think it does nothing but make our sport better. It's the way it should be. We're leading the points, we'd better be in the final round. And Force is 'The Man.' He's won all those championships. I think it's just good for everything. It was great for us, don't get me wrong, but I think it's just good for everything.

"I gave [team owner Don Schumacher] a big hug (at the top end). I even kissed him. He's just a great boss. He hires great people and lets them do their jobs and Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) was calling for the left lane every time. A couple of times we didn't have lane choice, but we were still over here (in the left), even though guys were taking the other lane."

As for the points chase, "I'm still almost embarrassed," he said. "They call you the points leader, they pat you on the back. It's so early, and I've been there before. I've finished three times No. 2 in the championship, so I've been down that road. I'm a little more seasoned when it comes to that. I'm learning to enjoy this.

"I'm in awe of my crew and especially Ed McCulloch. He raced here years ago, as did Don Schumacher. So, to come to places like this and just have those little thoughts in your head - are we in the right lane, did they pick the right lane, do we have enough to beat this guy? - and to pull it off without lane choice (is awesome).

"If the in-car camera we had last year was still in the car you'd see me shaking my head because I'm in disbelief. I got on the radio and said, I can't believe it, we won again. And it's not because I doubt our guys, it's just I can't believe I'm having this good a time.

"I love this class right now. Everything is great right now as far as competition. I think [NHRA] did a great job with the rev limiter change they made. They're doing everything they can to work with us.

"There was a lot of whining and complaining going on early in the year about the Goodyear tire. We worked our tails off to figure that tire out in preseason testing.

"I'm in disbelief. Things are so good, it's hard to believe."

Said Don Schumacher: "It's awesome. All of these teams are doing a great, great job for me," he said of the nine teams he campaigns, "and all the sponsors. But this Brut team really has been strong since the Las Vegas test. Ron doesn't really say enough about that, but he, Ace and that whole team have just been doing a great, great job, figuring out this tire, getting the race car to go down the race track every time, and having all the others over looking at what he was doing. He's really figured it out."

Crew chief McCulloch was his usual grounded self: "Sooner or later it's going to stop," he said. "Every race we go to, when we drive into the gate, the thought crosses my mind, Is this going to be the week that we're going to stumble? We're not very good in qualifying, but come Sunday we have a knack to be able to get it together and go rounds on Sunday and I guess that's what wins championships. And, believe me, I'm not counting already. We won the race but we didn't pick up that many points on Force, and to beat him in the final was huge. What can I say? We just keep trying to do what we've been doing."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Scott Kalitta , Eric Medlen , Don Schumacher