Capps goes to final round
Englishtown, Sunday: Ron Capps could smell his first victory for Don Schumacher Racing today, and it smelled a lot like Brut through the first three rounds. But, the driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car didn't find his way to the winner's circle in his second final-round appearance of the year and the 32nd of his career.
It was Del Worsham's day today, as Capps settled for his second runner-up finish of the season with a 4.911/315.49 pass to Worsham's winning 4.866/321.19.
Capps moved up into fifth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, and is just eight points behind Tommy Johnson Jr. in fourth.
The Carlsbad, Calif., driver and No. 10 qualifier thundered through the first two rounds, initially defeating Tony Pedregon with a 4.806/320.81, then his teammate Whit Bazemore in the second round, posting his quickest pass of the weekend, a 4.794 ET at 323.66 mph.
There was a scary moment in the semifinal when Capps lost traction and almost crossed the centerline into his opponent Tommy Johnson Jr.'s lane. His IROC and Dirt Late Model racing experience, however, pulled him through, as he took the win with a 5.122/281.07 pass.
He didn't have lane choice for the final round, but it was not an issue as a possible clutch problem slowed Capps to a 4.911/315.49 pass after nailing a .079 reaction time to Worsham's .087. Worsham captured his first victory since the Chicago fall event in 2004.
"The lanes were good here, they were pretty equal, so it wasn't the lanes," said Capps. "For some reason the car fell off. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) will find out why. We were set up to run what we ran in the second round, which was a 4.79. So, it should have run an .80 to an .83 because I staged a little deeper in the final.
"It went right down the middle and I honestly didn't see him until about 800 feet.
"It hurts worse when you know you had a hot rod. We should've won it. It ran good in the heat, it ran good when it cooled down. Considering that everybody on the Don Schumacher Racing team pulled together on Friday (When Ace made a trip to the hospital) - with Mike Neff (Gary Scelzi's crew chief), Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara (Whit Bazemore's crew chiefs) coming over to help - and then Ace coming back and not being 100 percent, getting to the final round was a positive, but we wish the results had been better.
"It was an exciting day. We didn't qualify as well as we wanted, again. We need to chip away at qualifying better. To run the .80 flat the first round - and everybody said, 'Wow' - and then to come back and run the .79 the second round was very cool, because it went right down there. I didn't think it even ran that good; it didn't feel that good.
As for the drama in the semifinal round: "It was smart on my part that I did something I don't normally do," he explained. "Usually, I might have tried to stay on the throttle thinking Tommy was next to me. If I just stayed in it a fraction longer it would have crossed into his lane, and it could have been bad. I was smart enough to lift. I didn't hear him. I got it straight, stabbed the throttle and got it going again. It was one of those lucky breaks. But, we'll take it."
Said a disappointed Ace McCulloch, "We've got a good car, we had a good day. The weekend didn't start out very good for me and for the whole team, but they all pulled together and did a great job. I am really disappointed because the Brut Dodge was running so good today. Something happened. I haven't found it yet. Something in the clutch is not right and I've got to find it. And it cost us the race. So, all we can do is load up and go to the next one and try again."
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