The guardrail light started flashing, and Funny Car driver Ron Capps assumed he won.
But after finishing in third place in his three previous finals appearances at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Four-Wide Nationals, Capps didn’t start celebrating his title until he received another source of confirmation.
“The radio transmission shut down,” Capps said, “and all I heard was static, yelling and some dirty words. So I thought, ‘That must be a win.’”
With a winning pass of 3.933 seconds at 322.65 mph, Capps beat runner-up Jack Beckman, J.R. Todd and Matt Hagan in the Funny Car final on Sunday at zMAX Dragway for his first career win at the Four-Wide Nationals.
The victory marked Capps’ second straight and continued his recent run of dominance after capturing his first career Funny Car world championship last season.
“I’ve got a great race car,” Capps said. “There’s people in this room who could drive that race car who aren’t race car drivers. I’m joking a little bit, but I really feel that way. It’s an incredible race car to drive.”
Capps, 51, now has 52 Funny Car wins in his career. And although Sunday’s victory was his first in the event, his celebration hardly changed..
“First phone call I made,” said Capps when asked if he had talked to his wife and children following the win. “And my mom. My mom cried and said she wanted a yellow hat, as if I don’t get her one every time.”
Three who mattered
Steve Torrence: He took the Top Fuel title, with his winning pass in the final coming in 3.783 seconds at 323.89 mph.
Chris McGaha: He posted a run of 6.591 seconds at 210.44 mph in the Pro Stock final. The Pro Stock class has featured a different winner in each of the first six events of the season.
L.E. Tonglet: He snapped Andrew Hines’ streak of three straight wins in the Four-Wide Nationals, taking the Pro Stock Motorcycle title with a run of 6.864 seconds at 195 mph.
▪ During the first round of eliminations, Top Fuel driver Chris Karamesines was backing out of the starting line when his throttle locked up. Crew members ran around frantically, but no one was hurt.
▪ Brittany Force, the defending Four-Wide Nationals champion in the Top Fuel division, smoked the tires and fell in the first elimination round.
▪ Like her older sister, Courtney Force, the No. 1 qualifier in the Funny Car division, saw her day come to a disappointing end in the first elimination round. Racing in Lane 4, she made contact with the wall and was disqualified after crossing the finish line in second.
▪ Sunday marked the first time the NHRA Pro Mods ran in the Four-Wide Nationals. Mike Castellana took the inaugural title, his winning pass coming in 5.807 seconds at 249.35 mph.
▪ One of the drivers Torrence beat in the Top Fuel final was Leah Pritchett, who defeated Torrence last week in the NHRA SpringNationals. Pritchett’s husband, Gary, is the clutch specialist with Torrence’s team.
They said it
“Oh, absolutely. We’re on the road to go to Atlanta from here, so Gary (Pritchett) doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out of his bedroom or anything.” – Torrence on if there’s any extra motivation for his team when racing Leah Pritchett.
“They are truly the two best bikes out here, and when you can beat them it just means a lot.” – Tonglet on defeating Hines and Eddie Krawiec, who both drive Harley Davidsons, in the final.