Las Vegas II: Ron Capps final report

CAPPS BOWS OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN VEGAS LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2007) - Ron Capps bowed out in the Funny Car opening round of the ACDelco NHRA Nationals today at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his chances of winning his first Funny Car ...


LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2007) - Ron Capps bowed out in the Funny Car opening round of the ACDelco NHRA Nationals today at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his chances of winning his first Funny Car championship effectively went with him, after No. 1 in Countdown to One points Tony Pedregon won his fourth event of the season.

It was a tough weekend for the driver of the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T who led the point standings by as much as 154 points before the new Countdown to the Championship playoffs kicked in. Since then he fought his way back into a spot in the top four and now, with one race remaining, in Pomona, Calif., where the 2007 Funny Car champion will be named from those four, he finds himself 113 points behind Pedregon, and 22 in back of Gary Scelzi, and 14 behind Hight.

Mathematically, Capps is still in the running, heading to the final event next weekend. However, all Pedregon needs to do in Pomona is qualify to clinch the championship. The only glimmer of hope to snatch the crown from Pedregon would be to win the event, set a national record, and pray that Pedregon does not qualify.

After qualifying sixth here at The Strip, Capps faced off against Phil Burkart Jr., driving the John Force Racing entry. As he sat in the staging lanes, in the third pairing, he watched his teammate Jack Beckman break in the left lane then Mike Neff's engine disintegrate in the other Force team car in the right lane. With lane choice, crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch opted to swap lanes from left to right, then back again to the left while clean-up was in progress.

Capps took off a hair behind Burkart, then lost traction just before half-track, slowing to a 6.293-second pass at 177.77 mph, while Burkart cruised, albeit not perfectly, to a 4.906/312.78 victory.

'When we rolled up, there had been two oildowns in front of us, and we were still OK after the MTS car had a problem in the left lane with the blower drive; there was a little bit of oil on the starting line," said Capps. "Ace had radioed back to me that it was OK, it didn't hurt the lane. And then of course in front of us we saw what happened with Mike Neff's car. There was a pretty lengthy cleanup. At that time we started looking at the right lane after most teams were picking the left lane.

"And so we swapped back to the right lane and with that lengthy cleanup Ace had time to go back and look at the left lane and decided he wanted the left lane again. That's what's great about this track, it's always pretty even. Of course, we had lane choice. You have to remember, you go up there, you sit in the staging lanes, and you have a setup that Ace puts in the car to roll up there - as do all the other crew chiefs - and then through those long cleanups weather conditions change. So, we just misjudged it. To be honest with you, looking at the computer, it's evident why.

"We weren't the only car that had trouble. In fact, two of the other Countdown guys didn't get down there (Gary Scelzi and Robert Hight were first-round losers as well). And the guys who did win the rounds barely got down the track and had to pedal it. There was a big change in the track, for whatever reason. We're not sure if they sprayed it differently, or what it was. I told Ace not to hang his head too low because up until the point of when the oildowns happened, the track was good, then after that nobody got down.

"Great drama," he continued. "Tony Pedregon has pretty much clinched the deal, and now it will be a fight for second. This is part of the new Countdown. When the three of us lost and Tony went to the final round, we knew he could virtually clinch the championship here in Vegas. Mathematically, maybe not, but pretty much. It was exciting. We gave it our best shot, but this was a race we knew we had to do pretty good at, if not great, to go into Pomona and not have our backs against the wall. We didn't get by that first round and it cost us."

Capps entered this race under additional stress, as he and his family were forced to evacuate their home in Carlsbad, Calif., because of the recent California wildfires. "Obviously, it was a tough week," he said. "I was at a photo shoot in Indianapolis for the NAPA people for the announcement we made here for 2008. We actually cut the photo shoot short (because of the fires) and they got me out of Indianapolis and home. My family had already had the mandatory evacuation, so we weren't sure what was going to happen. It was two days of wondering if you're losing everything that you hadn't grabbed out of the house. I was really hoping they would contain the fires and that we were going to be OK, and happily that's how it ended up before we even got here.

"I was so looking forward to getting to Vegas and getting my mind off of the fire and focusing on the race. And with the excitement the Countdown has created, we had so much media going on. So it was nice to get over here and get our minds off of the fires. Everybody did such a great job putting the fires out that I could come over here and race knowing everything would be OK at home."

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman , Robert Hight , Mike Neff