Dodge R/T driver posts third straight NHRA FC win
May 7, 2017 (Commerce, Ga.) – Ron Capps extended his NHRA Funny Car points lead to nearly 100 points with his third consecutive win at the NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta on Sunday.
Capps, the reigning Funny Car champ, was enjoying the rare accomplishment, but he gave credit where credit was due.
“It’s a pinch-me moment,” said Capps. “I mean, I’ve got such a great team right now. It’s cliché to hear that, cliché to say it — a lot of people say it — but I think our fans understand. The car speaks for itself here lately. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and Eric (Lane), our assistant crew chief, those two together are the dynamic duo.”
With the Southern Nationals victory, Mopar® has now won at least one of the Nitro categories in all seven of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2017, and a Dodge has won all but one FC titles.
Mopar Funny Cars from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) have won six of seven events to begin the year, and at least one Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster has appeared in every final round to date in that category, as Capps’ DSR teammate Tony Schumacher drove to the Atlanta final. Mopar has also won at least one Nitro category Wally trophy in eight straight events dating back to the end of 2016 at Pomona.
Capps won his 52nd Funny Car event and second at the Atlanta track by defeating Tim Wilkerson on a holeshot with a pass of 3.991 seconds at 317.79 mph from the left lane after a .040-second reaction time. Wilkerson turned in a quicker lap of 3.978 at 316.60, but was late off the line with a reaction time of .110.
In the first round on Sunday, Capps defeated J.R. Todd when the first-year Funny Car driver smoked his tires shortly past the Christmas Tree. Capps then knocked out John Force in round two, coming from behind to turn on the win light. He then took out John Force Racing driver Robert Hight to reach the final against Wilkerson.
Defending Funny Car event champion Matt Hagan also turned in a solid day, driving his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a first-round win over Cruz Pedregon. Hagan next powered past Dave Richards as Richards went up in smoke, setting up a matchup with Wilkerson in the semis. Wilkerson had trouble on his pass, but Hagan lost traction just past the starting line and had to pedal the car, ending his bid to win back-to-back at Atlanta.
Hagan is second in championship points behind Capps.
Also in Funny Car, Jack Beckman drove his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T past Mopar DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T in round one as Johnson smoked his tires. Beckman’s day was then ended in the next round by Wilkerson, after Beckman struggled to get down track.
Johnson, meanwhile, suffered his third first-round exit in the last three events after winning in Las Vegas to kick off the month of April.
In the first round of Top Fuel, No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher bested Brittany Force in his Mopar-powered U.S. Army car, despite suffering an engine explosion near the finish line. Schumacher and team returned to knock out Bob Vandergriff in round two and then take down Doug Kalitta in the semis to reach the final round against Steve Torrence. Schumacher’s car rattled the tires early in the run and he was forced to shut it down. Atlanta remains the only track at which Schumacher, an eight-time champion, has not won.
Schumacher’s Mopar and DSR teammate in Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett, began her day by setting a track elapsed-time record in round one in her Papa John’s/Mopar Pennzoil Dragster, turning in a pass of 3.699 seconds en route to defeating Terry McMillen. She then bested Antron Brown in round two before meeting up with Steve Torrence for the third week in a row where her day came to an end in the semifinals.
Atlanta Dragway, located in northeast Georgia, is known as an old-school track. It showed during the 37th annual Southern Nationals with many drivers talking about bumps on the surface. The event battled persistent rains on Friday and Saturday evening, forcing the delay or cancellation of many activities and jumbling the schedule. However, during Sunday’s elimination rounds, the weather was cool and sunny, allowing for a number of blistering passes and several track records.
For Southern Nationals Notes & Quotes, click here.