CAPPS CLINCHES SPOT IN TOP EIGHT WITH FIRST-ROUND FINISH IN SEATTLE KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2007) - With only three events remaining before the new playoff system kicks in, Funny Car points leader Ron Capps clinched a spot in the top eight for the...
CAPPS CLINCHES SPOT IN TOP EIGHT WITH FIRST-ROUND FINISH IN SEATTLE
KENT, Wash. (July 22, 2007) - With only three events remaining before the new playoff system kicks in, Funny Car points leader Ron Capps clinched a spot in the top eight for the Countdown to the Championship today with a first-round loss against Ashley Force at the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals.
Despite sporadic rain sprinkles, the fifth event of the six-race swing was completed today following only one round of qualifying on Saturday and a full schedule on Sunday.
Driving the Brut "Test Drive" Dodge Charger R/T, Capps qualified No. 7 and faced No. 10 qualifier Ashley Force in the opening round of eliminations. Under clouds and in cooler conditions, Ashley surprised Capps and the crowd when she jumped first off the starting line with a .068 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Capps' .100. This marked the first time in 19 rounds that Ashley Force out-launched her opponent in her rookie season. She put an exclamation point on that run by posting a winning 4.791-second pass at 311.70 mph to Capps' losing 4.840/319.90.
"We stayed in the left lane," said Capps. "Everybody was running great in the right lane. I was back in the lanes and (John) Force came back to talk to her, and Guido (Dean Antonelli), her crew chief, kept coming over. 'You guys are staying in the left lane?' he asked. And I said, Hey, talk to Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch).
"We stayed in the left lane and we got up there and the car left and it rattled. When it rattles nowadays, it's usually because the car is a little bit on the softer edge, instead of aggressive. When it did that rattle, all of a sudden I saw her nose pop out. I thought, Oh, boy, it's like a video game. I'm watching my lane and in my peripheral I saw her nose pop out and then at half-track she went out to my front windshield. She just took a leap. They ran good half-track on, and then her car nosed over at the end, but it was too late."
As for clinching a spot in the Countdown, "Clinching is OK," said Capps, who has been a bridesmaid in the Funny Car championship three times but never a bride, "but you don't want to get complacent. That's where you get beat. Football teams do it. They're in the Playoffs, they take it easy, they have a bye weekend off, and they roll into the first round and they get their butts handed to them because they're lackadaisical. We don't want to do that. I've been there. I've been to Pomona and I've been second too many times to get in that mode. We're not going to let that happen this year."
Next up is the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., July 27-29.