Phoenix: Ron Capps final summary

RARE FOUL ENDS CAPPS' RACE DAY IN SEMIS IN PHOENIX CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2007) - Ron Capps was on a straight path to the winner's circle today at the CSK NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway until he experienced his first-ever red-light in the...


CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2007) - Ron Capps was on a straight path to the winner's circle today at the CSK NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway until he experienced his first-ever red-light in the semifinal round, ending the day for the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team.

Capps first defeated 14-time Funny Car champion John Force in the opening stanza by a mere three feet in a dramatic, close, but not perfect, match-up. The Brut team had a problem removing the starter from the car, but quick team action got Capps off the line in time, despite a short burn-out. Capps then led all the way as both cars sashayed, popped and spit down the quarter-mile. He claimed the victory with a 4.837-second elapsed time at 305.22 mph to Force's 4.862/303.09.

Capps' career record against Force is now 17-38 in round wins. he's won nine of the last 11 meetings against Force, and has won the last four first-round match-ups over Force.

Tim Wilkerson was Capps' next opponent, and the Carlsbad, Calif., resident handily dismissed him with a 4.766/318.69 to Wilkerson's 5.247/222.66.

Capps then faced Robert Hight in the semifinal round, in what should have been a stellar race between two of the hottest series' drivers. It turned into an easy victory for Hight, who covered the quarter-mile in 4.783 seconds at 312.78 mph, while Capps was disqualified for fouling out.

"I'm not even sure. I don't know," he said when asked what happened. "My foot went down, it was time to go, it was no different than any rounds or pressure we've had in the past. I was real surprised. I don't think my brain even said go. My foot was down, and it was already past the tree, and I saw the red light, and I thought, Oh, my God. In that moment between pre-stage and stage for a driver, no matter what class, you're in the utmost concentration. I didn't have any lack of concentration, it just felt like another round. Next thing I know, my foot was down, and away you go. I let my guys down.

"We got two weeks off. It's going to be a tough two weeks. Like Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) said, we did well in points and we'll come out of here OK. It hurts that we had one of the best cars here this weekend and I always prided myself on making sure to not make mistakes like that, or at least try my hardest not to, so the guys always count on me and I feel like I let them down.

All in all, this one's going to leave a mark. It's going to hurt for two weeks. I've never redlit, for as long as I've been driving; it's the first time.

"This whole DSR organization is a great support system. Ace was the first one to pull me aside and say, 'It's OK, stuff happens.' He's done it before. Don Schumacher came in and patted me on the knee and said, 'Don't worry about it, we'll go to Gainesville.' When you have people who are behind you like that you never have to roll up to the starting line and doubt yourself. It's an amazing feeling to have nine guys on the crew that feel sorry more for me than I feel for myself. It's a good family, a good support system. I'm going to beat myself up pretty good, but that's the way it goes."

There was a highlight to the day, of course: beating Force in the first round. "That was a huge," Capps said. "You have all night to think about that run. Knowing the conditions were going to change (for first round) really excited me as a driver because of the way we approach those kind of race tracks with a little bit of heat in them. We like them, so everything was really playing into our hands.

"I raced the toughest there is the first round. The starter wouldn't come off. We started the car and I could watch Motel 6 Vision. I saw Force backing up. I know he was watching the screen as well. He could tell that we couldn't get the starter off the car because the camera was on him. So, about the time we finally got it off they were about to send a guy over to tell us It was too late. I got on the radio and said, Drop the body, get out of the way. I rolled up and did a quick little burnout, got back. With the amount of respect you have for those teams you don't want to hold them up. We would have shut it off had we waited too long but I was surprised. I got back, we lifted the body, Ace did his adjustments, lowered the body and I was right in behind Force lighting the pre-stage light. So, I flipped the pumps on, went right in and the car just got out there and jumped sideways and I thought I would cross the centerline. I did everything I could to keep it in our lane. I was surprised because I could hear Force's headers right out my side as we were going along. I didn't know he was kind of having the same problems. I pulled the parachutes and he went flying by, and I said, Oh, boy, it must have been close. I turned the corner and the camera guys came my way. So, that was a good thing."

Capps is fourth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings after two events, 64 points behind leader Robert Hight. Tony Pedregon was the Funny Car winner today.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight