Memphis: Capps wins

MEMPHIS, Oct. 8, 2000 - The wait for Ron Capps' Funny Car victory No. 8 is over after almost two years and 46 races. It ended when Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car crossed the Memphis Motorsports Park finish line in 4.925 seconds at...

MEMPHIS, Oct. 8, 2000 - The wait for Ron Capps' Funny Car victory No. 8 is over after almost two years and 46 races.

It ended when Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car crossed the Memphis Motorsports Park finish line in 4.925 seconds at 297.22 mph to defeat Whit Bazemore in the AutoZone Nationals finals. And this win came in his seventh title round of 2000.

Along the way Capps and Company smashed a long losing streak to John Force, beating the nine-time - and soon to be 10-time - NHRA Winston Series champion in the semifinals.

And the triumph, Capps' first since Oct. 17, 1998, lifted him into second place in the standings with 1369 points, 16 more than Jerry Toliver. Force leads with 1659.

Much of the winning euphoria vanished just minutes after Capps won when his teammate, Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon, was involved in a blow over during the Top Fuel finale. Dixon was transported to the hospital for observation, but appeared to have no serious injuries.

"It was just an exciting day for us," said Capps. "To beat Force in the semis, well, I could've gone home after that because it has been a long time. Losing to him four times in the finals this year gets you motivated to go up there and beat him. We beat him all around, at the tree (Capps left the line first, .490 to .503), and on the track (4.957 seconds at 299.00 mph to 4.966 at 298.34).

"A few races ago we down in points and we were struggling a little bit and we said we were going to set a goal to finish second," Capps added. "If we concentrate on what we're doing we can catch Jerry Toliver. That was the goal."

Now the plan is to stay there during the final three races of the season.

Crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch, frustrated after the six runner-up finishes, said he went into this title round "determined not to let this one get away." And he didn't.

McCulloch, a former Funny Car and Top Fuel driver, became the first person to win races in both categories as a driver and crew chief. His Top Fuel win came with Doug Kalitta.

Capps was consistent all day, opening with a 5.006-second run to beat Tommy Johnson Jr., then a 4.974 to stop Bruce Sarver, his win over Force and, fittingly, his quickest run of the day to go to the winner's circle.

Next up is the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Dallas, Oct. 20-22, followed the next week, Oct. 27-29, by the Matco Supernationals at Houston.

Qualified: No. 4, 4.893 at 302.89 mph. First round: Capps, 5.006 at 285.35 def. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Quarterfinals: Capps, 4.974 at 283.01 def. Bruce Sarver; Semifinals: Capps, 4.957 at 299.00 def. John Force; Finals: Capps, 4.925 at 297.22 def. Whit Bazemore. Pro Winners: Top Fuel - Gary Scelzi, Funny Car - Ron Capps, Pro Stock - Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Next event: O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Oct. 20-22, at Dallas. TV Times: ESPN2, October 22, 6-9 p.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Larry Dixon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.