CAPPS OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN POMONA, FINISHES SEASON FOURTH IN POINTS POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2007) - Ron Capps came into today's Funny Car eliminations at the Auto Club NHRA Finals with a chance of claiming second place in the 2007 NHRA POWERade...
CAPPS OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN POMONA, FINISHES SEASON FOURTH IN POINTS
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2007) - Ron Capps came into today's Funny Car eliminations at the Auto Club NHRA Finals with a chance of claiming second place in the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The driver of the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car instead will take home a fourth-place trophy after he was defeated in the opening round by Phil Burkart Jr., driving the John Force Racing entry.
Also exiting in the first round were No. 1 in points Tony Pedregon and No. 2 Gary Scelzi. Pedregon, however, clinched the championship when No. 3 Robert Hight made it into the final round without establishing a national elapsed-time national record for 20 bonus points. With only the final round available to produce a record run and a back-up, the 2007 season championship chase was over.
Capps faced Burkart in the first stanza with a car he knew was right on after struggling during qualifying. But a .110 reaction time to Burkart's .052 was Capps' demise, as his stout 4.822-second run at 323.35 mph was for naught. Burkart outran Capps by nine feet to take the victory with a slower 4.861/317.57.
"As a driver, I just flat out made a rookie mistake," said a disappointed Capps, who has yet to win a Funny Car championship. "He was in deep, my stage light had come on, and out of the corner of my eye I saw his top light blink. When we left the starting line I kind of said to myself, Good try, Phil. He's got to do what he's got to do in that car. Apparently it did bug me, because my light was a .110 and that's pretty sub-par for me. It's a little better than I was in qualifying. I was pretty consistent qualifying at .120s. Race day is a different deal for all the drivers. And everybody knows the game up there. I never let those things get to me. I've really worked hard on never letting them get to me, but obviously it happened and it's just something you can't do.
"It's terrible to end the year this way. We really were fighting to finish with a No. 2 on the car and, to be honest with you, Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) worked so hard overnight on what plagued us on Saturday. The car was just shaking the tires loose and it barely made it on Friday. He then kind of went in both directions in the tune-up to fix it and on Saturday neither of them helped. So he was a little bit baffled. And I tell you, as usual, and I've said it time and time again, he did his homework and fixed what was plaguing us. We had a great car Sunday morning, and the driver just didn't do his job.
"Ace is a great leader. I hate to let him and the Brut Dodge crew guys down with a holeshot loss. The good part is I have great guys around me and we're a great team. We work great together and we're real excited about next year. I just really wanted to give Brut Revolution a win on their way out as a major sponsor and it just didn't happen this time."
Capps wrapped up the 2007 season: "I would wrap it up by saying it was a learning experience. I know you learn every year, but being the first year of the Countdown to the Championship points system, I felt like we really, really showed a lot of brilliance in the beginning of the year. Obviously, we learned that we're not going to back off and try to test. We had such a great points lead (by as much as 154) that we decided to test, and I think that affected our mindset in a lot of ways.
"I think there are going to be a lot of teams that are going to sit back and really approach the Countdown differently next year. We really thought we had a great game plan. We didn't want do the last-minute effort to make it into the Countdown to One like we did in Richmond. We don't want to have to do that next year.
"I think NHRA is going to make some adjustments to the Countdown format and we're going to have to adjust our mindset to it. But, overall, I think more than anything it was a learning experience. I think it was a learning experience for everyone, the NHRA and the teams. I think it's just going to get better and better every year. I think the fans really got more excitement, and with HD Partners coming in, it's a great time to be in in NHRA right now. I'm really proud to be involved with the sport right now."
For those interested in how this championship season would have turned out for Capps under the previous points format, Capps would have ended up second to Robert Hight, winner today, by 15 points, but ahead of newly-crowned champion Tony Pedregon by 20 points.