Capps qualifies No. 8, will vie for second in championship
Pomona, Saturday: Ron Capps will compete for second place in the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship on Sunday, as his chances, although slim, of earning his first crown, were dashed when No. 1 in Countdown to One points Tony Pedregon qualified No. 16 at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Capps earned the No. 8 spot Friday with a 4.812-second lap at 323.50 mph (quickest of the round and No. 4 at the time) and will face Phil Burkart Jr. in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday. His other laps included a 4.845/322.42 (No. 5), a 10.654/77.64 and another tire-smoking 10.038/80.84 in the final session.
"We were still trying to shoot for that Full Throttle Pit Challenge Award (for consistency in qualifying) and finish on a high note," said Capps, driver of the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T. "Great runs Thursday and Friday and then Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) got back to his race-day setup here on Saturday. Both times we pulled the tires loose. I think Ace is trying to see what the track will hold, but at the same time you don't want to go into Sunday on a run like that. Ace right now is kind of beating his head against the wall trying to figure out how to maker this thing get down there tomorrow.
"Obviously, we have a huge match-up with John Force's car (Burkart). And with Robert (Hight, No. 3 in points) and Gary Scelzi (No. 2) running each other, we definitely have a motivation to finish second. And, if we can't, we can't. But it sure would be nice to end on a good note.
"It's going to be interesting tomorrow because it's the end of the year and a lot of people's mentality is to go up there and kind of let it all hang out since the championship's already wrapped up. We're feeling the same way.
"One thing I always know is, no matter how I finish in qualifying, whether we got lane choice or not, when I wake up Sunday morning I have one of the best cars on the grounds, bar none, and I always have a shot at winning. I feel good."
As for Tony Pedregon virtually clinching the championship (either Scelzi or Hight would have to win the event and set a national record to beat Pedregon): "Pretty much he just had to qualify," said Capps, "and barring a miracle, there was no way the three of us were going to get around him. It's kind of a letdown that it happened so quickly, but that was a product of the Countdown to One, and hopefully NHRA will change that next year and give everybody a chance to dig themselves out of a hole.
"I told Tony congratulations on a championship. I know that he's going to be a good champion for the rest of us Funny Car guys. He'll carry our Funny Car division well as a champion. He's an interesting story. He went off on his own and formed his own team, so I have a lot of admiration for what he's done, and that's a great team.
"The motivation in the off season is to try to learn what we did wrong this year, and that was starting to test (after acquiring a strong lead), and if we get a big points lead again, like we did last year, we're going to stay after it. You just can't lay off like we did and start testing. But, you live and learn."
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