Phoenix: Ron Capps eliminations summary

Ron Capps wins CKS Nationals, takes Funny Car point lead. CHANDLER, Ariz., February 23, 2003 - Ron Capps didn't have the quickest or fastest Funny Car at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals Sunday, but he did go home with the winner's trophy...

Ron Capps wins CKS Nationals, takes Funny Car point lead.

CHANDLER, Ariz., February 23, 2003 - Ron Capps didn't have the quickest or fastest Funny Car at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals Sunday, but he did go home with the winner's trophy and, perhaps more surprisingly, the NHRA POWERade Series lead.

Capps used a nearly-perfect reaction time (.003) in the final round, running a slower 4.868 seconds at 310.13 mph to defeat Gary Densham's 4.810 at 318.99. Densham had a .087 light. That victory, Capps' 14th overall and 13th in Funny Car, ran his point total to 184, good enough for a 10-point advantage over Tony Pedregon, who lost to Capps in the quarterfinals.

"Funny Car drivers can't cut those kinds of lights on purpose," the driver of the Green Skoal Racing Camaro said of his head start. "For me, it was just time to go. I was staged and when you're in there with your hand on the brake and your right Achilles tendon is stretched waiting for any indication of amber, sometimes your brain just says it's time to go and the right foot goes down. I got lucky and didn't red light.

"We earned our way into the finals. I had decent lights all day and Ace (crew chief Ed 'Ace' McCulloch and Todd (assistant crew chief Todd Okuhara) were pulling out great numbers and I just felt I had to stay on top of my game."

For Capps, the key wins came over Pedregon and Densham, two of John Force's teammates. Pedregon dominated the Winternationals two weeks ago and qualified first here, but his car faltered and Capps' produced his best time of the weekend, 4.834 seconds at 318.69 mph to Pedregon's 4.859 at 319.52.

"I saw his car out my window about halftrack and then it disappeared," Capps recalled. "I couldn't tell who won, so I was on the radio to Todd and he told me that I did and we ran a 4.83. That was awesome."

Capps was a picture of consistency during qualifying, posting three 4.88-second times, but his best of 4.880 was for ninth place. He defeated Tim Wilkerson in the first round and Tony Pedregon and Frank Pedregon in second the third rounds.

This is the first time since 1998 that Capps had led the point standings.

Tommy Johnson Jr., Capps' teammate on the Don Prudhomme-owned team, lost to Whit Bazemore in the first round. His Blue Skoal Racing Camaro was timed in 4.893 seconds to Bazemore's 4.869.

"We were the quickest loser in the round," Johnson said. "We are competitive. The performance will come around."

Johnson injured the middle finger of his right hand Saturday during qualifying. Doctors told him two tendons in the tip of the finger snapped and he is to undergo surgery this week to repair the tendons.

"It's good we don't have to race for three weeks," he commented. "I should be fine by then."

He is seventh with 104 points.

The next event, the Mac Tools Gatornationals, is scheduled March 14-16 at Gainesville, Fla.

-dpsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Gary Densham , Don Prudhomme , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.