Bristol: Sunday final eliminations report

CAPPS, KALITTA AND LINE WIN AT O'REILLY THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ron Capps beat drag racing legend John Force by one-hundredth of a second Sunday at Bristol Dragway to extend his Funny Car lead in the POWERade Drag Racing...


BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ron Capps beat drag racing legend John Force by one-hundredth of a second Sunday at Bristol Dragway to extend his Funny Car lead in the POWERade Drag Racing Series championship chase. Capps was joined by Doug Kalitta and Jason Line in the winner's circle at the $1.5 million O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Q, the sixth of 23 races in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Capps posted a run of 4.793 seconds at 319.52 mph in his Brut Dodge Stratus to beat Force's quicker 4.788 at 310.13 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. The difference came at the starting line when Capps left in .080-of-a-second in front of Force's .104-second start.

"I'm in disbelief," said Capps of his third victory of the season and the 20th of his career. "I got on the radio and said, 'I can't believe it, we won again.' It's not that I don't have confidence in my guys, but it's just so hard to win and when it happens a lot like it has this year it's sometimes hard to believe. I love the competition and I love this class. This is just a great time to be racing right now."

In earlier rounds Capps defeated Scott Kalitta, Eric Medlen and teammate Gary Scelzi to advance. It was Capps' second win at Bristol Dragway, as he defeated Al Hofmann for the win here in 2001.

The final produced a swing of 40 points in the POWERade standings with Capps increasing his lead by 122 points over Force.

Kalitta repeated last year's Bristol Top Fuel final by beating Rod Fuller once again. This time Fuller's Valvoline/David Powers Homes dragster lost traction at the hit of the throttle and Kalitta's Mac Tools dragster powered to a time of 4.537 at a track record speed of 331.53. It was Kalitta's 25th career victory and third at this event.

"This has been a long time coming," said Kalitta, whose last victory came eight months ago in Brainerd, Minn. "It seems like forever since we've been to the winner's circle. The guys were just real hungry and they really wanted to win one, plus we've always run well here, which had us feeling confident. Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] has the set up for this place and we love being here. All the facilities Bruton Smith owns are first-class and we enjoy racing at his tracks."

Kalitta's machine was consistent throughout the day, staying in the mid-4.5-second range to claim round wins over Scott Weis, Brandon Bernstein, and reigning champ Tony Schumacher.

"Getting by Rod a second time in the final here is something," Kalitta said. "I thought he was going to put us in the right lane but he didn't and when I saw Capps go down the left lane it made me feel real good. Once you get to the final you really want to go ahead and finish it off and we were able to today."

Melanie Troxel's bid to tie a category record for consecutive final-round appearances ended when she left the starting line early against second-round foe Fuller. Troxel was trying to tie teammate Tony Schumacher's mark of seven straight final-rounds. Her lead in the POWERade Series standings was trimmed from 156 to 139 points over second-place Dave Grubnic.

Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan, who escaped injury after a spectacular crash Friday night, returned to competition Sunday and lost in the opening round to Fuller. McClenathan's FRAM/Carrier Boyz Racing crew worked throughout the day Saturday to prepare his back-up car, which covered the distance in 4.666 seconds at 317.49 mph in the first round loss.

In a battle between Summit Racing Pontiac GTOs, Line earned his ninth career Pro Stock victory and became the sixth different Pro Stock winner of the season when he took out series leader and teammate Greg Anderson by a 6.716- to 6.752-second margin.

"It's interesting that we've had six different winners and I'm glad I'm one of them but really it stinks because we want them all to belong to this team," Line said. "That's just the way we like it, but we also realize how hard this class is and we're just motivated to work even harder to get back on top."

Line's Summit Pontiac GTO was the quickest of each elimination round, running low 6.7-second passes all day in claiming round wins over Ron Krisher, Richie Stevens, and Larry Morgan.

With the win, Line moved to second and cut Anderson's lead to 51 points.

The NHRA POWERade Series continues with the 26th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac, May 4-7 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Weis , Al Hofmann , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Jason Line , Eric Medlen , David Powers