CAPPS IS RUNNER-UP IN RICHMOND, MAKES THE COUNTDOWN IN FOURTH PETERSBURG, Va. (Oct. 7, 2007) - Ron Capps demonstrated true grit today at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. It was his last chance to get himself...
CAPPS IS RUNNER-UP IN RICHMOND, MAKES THE COUNTDOWN IN FOURTH
PETERSBURG, Va. (Oct. 7, 2007) - Ron Capps demonstrated true grit today at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. It was his last chance to get himself and the Valvoline/Brut Dodge Charger R/T into the Countdown to Four and he accomplished that feat by reaching the final round for the seventh time this season.
After squeaking into 15th in the final qualifying session, he and teammate Scelzi (No. 8) were tied in fourth place in the Countdown and it would all come down to whoever finished ahead of the other, as Scelzi's four round wins during the Countdown to Capps' one was the tie-breaker. But there was only room for two of the three Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car drivers to make it into the top four. Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight had enough points to hold onto their berths, so when DSR teammate Jack Beckman lost the second round he became the victim.
When Scelzi and Capps reached the final round, Beckman was out and Scelzi and Capps in.
Capps' first assignment was to defeat second-in-points Robert Hight, which he did handily with a solid 4.886-second pass at 313.37 mph. Scelzi took out Worsham.
In the second round, Gary Densham was Capps' victim, Cruz Pedregon Scelzi's. Capps then disposed of Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals, and Scelzi sent Tony Bartone home to New York.
The final round should have been a close race, as the DSR teammates launched with near-identical reaction times: .085 for Scelzi, .076 for Capps. But when Capps struck the tires, Scelzi cruised to the victory with a 4.956/306.60 lap over Capps' 5.935/207.11.
"I felt like I was stuttering because I kept telling the ESPN guys this is the most important round of our life," said Capps, "and that was Saturday's last qualifying run. And we were side by side with Gary. We weren't in and we needed to get in to even have a shot.
"Then we get in and we have Robert Hight first round. Well, I said it again, This is the most important round of our life. Our season is over if we lose this. And we win that. And we had to keep going every time Gary would win. So, I felt like I was stuttering. I kept saying this is the most important round of my life.
"I heard that there was a chance that if Gary and I both went to the final we would both pass Jack to get in, which was unfortunate. We wanted three of us in.
"I've been praising the Countdown and, even though it looked like we weren't going to make it after Dallas, I was still praising it, even though people were e-mailing me and I was reading articles about how terrible it was that I had my points taken away. I thought it was exciting, but I also thought that if there was any team in Funny Car, and not taking anything away from any of the guys, we deserved a shot at it. We needed to be in there. But you're not going to cry about the points and the structure because we knew it going in.
"I wanted Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) to have a shot at it. I wanted to go and at least be one of the guys in Pomona. It's so justified that we got in," added Capps, who had led by as much as 154 points through 14 of the first 17 events this season, but fell to fourth, then third and fifth in the first three of four Countdown to Four events.
"You guys wanted excitement and you got it. This track got more than their money's worth by getting back with NHRA and having an event here. To be the last race (of the Countdown to Four) with this much excitement, you couldn't ask for more."
As for the final round, "I just talked to Ace for a second before coming up here. We had lane choice, we went back to that left lane. It treated us well and it wasn't the lane choice for all categories, or nitro at least. And we stuck with the left lane, and as soon as I got back to the trailer he said 'I should've swapped lanes.' He got up there and he felt we should be OK going down it. He hates to smoke the tires. And that's not how he wanted to lose.
"It's OK. We're in the show and we're 30 (actually 34 points) back. We wanted to win, but Gary won and that's OK. In the final I gave it a pedal and Gary was going down there and we pulled our chutes and I was going to give him a little Darlington stripe down there in the shutdown area," he laughed.