CAPPS TAKES SECOND IN NHRA FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2005) - Ron Capps ended a heart-wrenching 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase second to his teammate Gary Scelzi in today's Automobile Club...
CAPPS TAKES SECOND IN NHRA FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2005) - Ron Capps ended a heart-wrenching 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase second to his teammate Gary Scelzi in today's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
This marks his third runner-up finish in the POWERade Funny Car class. He finished second also in 1998 and 2000.
Entering final eliminations today, Capps was eight points behind Scelzi and 24 in front of John Force. The first round was crucial for each of these drivers to survive in the hunt.
Without lane choice, Capps had to overcome his first-round opponent's option to change lanes at the last minute, but it didn't matter, as Capps scored the victory over Del Worsham with a 4.765-second ET at 326.56 mph.
Both Scelzi and Force also won their rounds, making the second round another critical hurdle for Capps. The California native faced Cruz Pedregon in the quarterfinal, taking off with a .014 of a second advantage. But it was Pedregon first at the finish stripe as Capps smoked the tires on the Brut Dodge Stratus, slowing to a 5.456-second lap at 245.27 mph to Pedregon's winning 4.756/329.26.
Scelzi claimed the Funny Car championship today when both he and Force also lost in the second round.
"There's a big sort of relief that's come over us," said Capps of the tightest Funny Car battle in NHRA history. "It's been wearing, just wearing. I never thought it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be. I knew it would be a big deal, but I had no idea how big.
"All night and all this morning, knowing we were going to run Del Worsham (in the first round), was probably the most stressful I'd been, just thinking about how good he is and how good that team is.
"Once we won the first round, it was a big letdown. OK, we said, we need to concentrate on the second round, but a lot of that [stress] was gone. So second round it was time to concentrate. I could see down the road that it was going to be good, and I was shocked that it smoked the tires out there.
"I don't think we've done that in a long time with this Brut Dodge. Not for five or six races, so that was surprising. I wasn't ready for it. But, now that everything is over, as time passes, it hurts a little worse that we were that close.
"On the other hand, we finished second and the Brut guys are already pumped about next year and we're already talking about how excited we are for next year. So, that helps.
"My heart sunk all right [when I lost]. And I didn't see him (Cruz Pedregon) for a fraction of a second and I was in the mode of OK, let's win this round, and then he came flying by. My first reaction was like, Oh my gosh. It scared the heck out of me.
"When he crossed the finish line, I was coasting down there, and the emotions were just hard to take. I didn't want to shut the car off. I just wanted to keep it running and just drive it back here to the pit area."
Crew chief Ed McCulloch was resigned. "One side of me, I'm really disappointed," he said. "The other side of me, we've had a good year. I've said this all along: We weren't supposed to be here anyway. I wish we could've gone ahead and done it, but we didn't. I'm happy and proud for Zippy (Scelzi's crew chief Mike Neff) and Scelzi and that team. They did a great job. And I guess the most gratifying thing is today when we went out the agony only lasted about three minutes, because everybody else went out in the same round. At least we didn't have to wait and agonize over it."
Capps ends his first season with Don Schumacher Racing with three wins in seven final rounds, one No. 1 qualifier and a 37-20 round win-loss record. He's won 17 events in 37 final rounds in his career and has a lifetime round win-loss record of 244-194.