CAPPS WINS HIS SECOND NHRA FUNNY CAR EVENT OF YEAR IN CHICAGO JOLIET, Ill. (Oct. 2, 2005) - Ron Capps collected his second NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car win of the season, the 16th of his career, in high style today, taking out some...
CAPPS WINS HIS SECOND NHRA FUNNY CAR EVENT OF YEAR IN CHICAGO
JOLIET, Ill. (Oct. 2, 2005) - Ron Capps collected his second NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car win of the season, the 16th of his career, in high style today, taking out some heavy hitters along the way and vaulting himself back in the middle of the championship chase.
The driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, in his first season with Don Schumacher Racing, reached his sixth final round of the year at the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals, the 36th of his career, and is now back up to third in points, just 45 points out of the lead. The California native is also only two points behind John Force, in second place.
Capps struggled to qualify in the top half of the field, but pulled out his career-best numbers in the final round of qualifying (4.732/329.02) to qualify No. 8. He admits to not having the quickest and fastest car out here, but reliability, consistency and excellent driving skills counted for more today.
In an important first-round match-up against title contender Robert Hight, Capps played payback as he defeated the John Force teammate who beat him in the first round in Reading, Pa., with a 4.751/328.54 to the rookie's 4.778/327.27.
No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon was his next victim in the quarterfinal, as Capps dismissed a tire-smoking Pedregon with a 4.796/324.20.
In the semifinal Capps went head to head with 13-time champion and another championship contender, John Force, and sent him packing with a winning 4.784/328.30 to Force's 4.796/326.95.
The final round saw Reading, Pa., winner Tony Pedregon go up in smoke, handing the victory to Capps, whose car never faltered all day, with another superb, steady pass of 4.760/327.82.
"It seems like a dream," he said in the winner's circle. "The day went by so quick. It was a matter of having faith."
As for his semifinal win over Force, "I call him the Godfather," he said. "Force is the man; he always will be. Hopefully (teammate and points leader Gary) Scelzi is going to be the man next year or maybe we will be. We have three races left. If you can't get up racing John Force you don't need to be out here. And he brings everything out of you and when you get up there and you light the pre-stage light the world comes to a stop.
"And you're always looking out the window because you know he's going to maybe come around you. That was a huge win."
The NHRA-mandated rev limiter was a factor in the final, according to Capps. "It's worse at the rev limiter. At about the 1000-ft. mark it sounds like a Diesel truck hitting the Jake brake. It just goes prrrrrrrr and it stops pulling and you're at the mercy of the guy coming at you. You just don't know what to do. You feel like you need to go out and pedal like Fred Flintstone or something. Your head hits the dash and you're just kind of out there waiting for the finish line to hurry up, hurry up and get here. It got there first (for me)."
As for the championship, "At this point in the game you need to make points. Coming in here it was 16 rounds, four races, and that's what we needed. Reading, unfortunately, didn't give us the track under us to give a (winning) battle with Hight. Well, we pulled him again and I think it was just destiny. We weren't throwing out the high .60s in the Brut Dodge and everybody was setting low ET of the world (in qualifying), but Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) is battling health problems. He's going to be OK, but I could see it running him down a little bit. But I knew yesterday in the heat when we ran a .75 and a .73 that he had his game on for race day.
"But it got cool out on race day and I thought, Oh, boy, especially in the final round, but, I tell you what, it's a matter of faith, and Ace did what it took and it's just a great feeling."
"Just fantastic," said team owner Don Schumacher on his team's double win today with Capps and Tony Schumacher. "We did it in 2003 with Tony and Whit Bazemore. It's just great. I have nine teams, only seven of them here. I'd like to have had seven winners. That would be the perfect day for me. That's not going to happen. It's a great day to have Ron and Tony both win out here at Route 66. I couldn't ask for much more than that.
"To have Ron right back up in the hunt for the championship the first year with me is terrific. Ace is fighting some battles with his health, but he's doing a great job. He's keeping his spirits up, his strength up. Our prayers and thoughts are with him all the time."
Ace had a philosophical take on the win: "This is how it's supposed to be. It's awfully hard to get here. Getting here is a lot of fun. It's great moving up in points when they may have sort of counted us out. We're not done yet. But we're still not preaching what we're going to do; we'll just go do the best we can do."
Next up is the re-scheduled O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 7-9, 2005.