By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
The victory has been a long time coming for Ron Capps and his NAPA Racing team, who finally achieved a milestone moment Sunday afternoon in the ever-popular NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car class in Brainerd, Minnesota at the Brainerd International Raceway.
Capps, the California native, who made his first NHRA start back in 1995 at Phoenix scored his 75th career victory Sunday after last eliminating John Force Racing’s Robert Hight in the finals. However, the victory wasn’t all that easy for him and the NAPA racing crew, as he was unable to make a qualifying run during Q1 due to a broken wheelie bar.
Thankfully, Capps bounced back after making a pass of 3.894 at 330.23 mph heading into Saturday’s qualifying session. Little did he know, the time from Friday night would stand following the two additional qualifying runs on Saturday, which gave him the 38th No. 1 qualifier of his career. With the driver-owner being the No. 1 qualifier for Sunday, he would face the No. 16 qualifier, Jim Campbell in E1.
Fortunately, the California native received a bye-run after Campbell was ordered to shut off his Funny Car dragster after the burnout. The bye-run gave Capps an automatic pass to E2 where he would face JCM Nitro’s, Tim Wilkerson. During the second round, Wilkerson smoked the tires and gave the win to the California driver.
Again in the semi-finals, he squared off against Bob Tasca III, who was coming off a win in Topeka the previous weekend. Tasca had round victories over Blake Alexander and Cruz Pedregon to meet the defending Funny Car champion in the semis. Unfortunately for Tasca, he smoked the tires, and the NAPA racing driver went on by for another round victory.
With the victory, Capps went to his first final round since his last win at Bristol, where he defeated Alexis DeJoria at that event. For the Brainerd race, however, he had a tough matchup against the Mission Foods 2Fast2Tasty Challenge winner from Saturday, Robert Hight. Hight had wins over Bobby Bode, Dave Richards, and boss, John Force.
Entering the finals, Hight held the advantage with a record 44-40, while Capps had the upper hand over Hight in the finals, 10-3. Additionally, Capps was the first to leave the starting line 55% of the time.
As the two Funny Cars staged for the final time on Sunday, it was Capps who left again with a reaction time of 0.053 as Hight was 0.069. The victory went to Capps who posted a time of 3.897 at 332.75 mph to his competitor’s car of 3.900 at 324.90 mph.
“First of all, 75 wins is crazy,” Capps said. “Pat Austin has been one of my heroes and I got to be around him early in my career as a crew guy, and I always strived to be Pat Austin. To watch him, ice in his veins, just some huge match-ups for me to stand behind their car back then. I used to look at the list and was like, ‘Pat Austin, 75 wins, that seems so out of this universe,’ so when I came around the corner after the final and saw a ’75 wins’ sign, it blew my mind.”
By securing the win, the victory was a full circle moment with the driver, as Capps’s career started here.
“There’s something about this place,” Capps said, the unofficial ‘King of The Zoo.’ “My career started here with John Mitchell, and a conversation we had in the staging lanes. We make a point of going out and celebrating in the Zoo a little bit with everyone out there, and we did that again last night.
“We had two executives from NAPA who came last year, Marti Walsh and Katherine Wooten. They’re solely responsible for making sure that I had a sponsor when I decided to be a team owner. They went out in The Zoo and had so much fun, that they came back to Brainerd again this year. We took them out again last night.”
Official NHRA Funny Car Results Following Brainerd
- Ron Capps
- Robert Hight
- Bob Tasca III
- John Force
- Cruz Pedregon
- Tim Wilkerson
- Dale Creasy Jr
- Dave Richards
- Alexis DeJoria
- Blake Alexander
- Bobby Bode
- Chad Green
- J.R. Todd
- Alex Laughlin
- Matt Hagan
- Jim Campbell
Official NHRA Funny Car Points Standings Following Brainerd
- Ron Capps, 1,073 points
- Matt Hagan, -21
- Robert Hight, -138
- Bob Tasca III, -177
- Chad Green, -211
- Alexis DeJoria, -233
- Tim Wilkerson, -253
- J.R. Todd, -283
- John Force, -327
- Cruz Pedregon, -446
Up Next: The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take one week off before resuming at the famous U.S. Nationals slated for Aug 30 – Sept 2.