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Capps’ Huge Final Run Nets Him Funny Car Pole

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2012

Ron Capps will head to Sunday's eliminations in Pomona on a roll. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

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Ron Capps spent three days trying to qualify for the 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. He finally did so in spectacular fashion on the last of his four attempts at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and will take the battle for the 2012 Funny Car world championship into Sunday’s final eliminations.

Capps posted his fifth victory of the season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 28, pulling to within four points (2,531-2,527) of Beckman’s lead. But a frustrated Capps failed to qualify on either Thursday or Friday. He was No. 15 in the 16-car field after Saturday morning’s third round and in danger of being bumped from the field in the final round.

But the three-time championship runnerup earned the No. 1 spot after pushing his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to a track-record 1,000-foot 4.007-second elapsed time at 319.29 miles per hour. Capps now trails series leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman by two points heading into the sixth and final race of the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Those two points will weigh in Beckman’s favor, however. With each round victory in eliminations worth 20 points, Capps must win one round more than Beckman and his Valvoline NextGen Dodge to claim his first world championship.

“I think I aged another 10 years these last couple of hours,” said Capps, who led the standings with three races to go. “I felt like we were losing the grip on what our plan was. We had such a great plan on Thursday. We were going to make those points up and either be tied or go ahead of him and we failed miserably at that. So this (No. 1) is a confidence-builder.

“Those two points, if we go out in the same round (Sunday) we lose the championship by two points. So Rahn (Tobler, his crew chief) said, ‘Hey, let’s go out and win the race.’^”

Mike Neff, who qualified 10th, still is in contention for the Funny Car title as well. But at 97 points back, Neff first needs Capps and Beckman to lose first-round. Driver/tuner of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang fielded by John Force Racing, Neff then needs to win the race and set a national record.

Top Fuel leader Antron Brown _ who is trying to become the first African-American driver to win a major U.S. auto racing championship _ will have to do it on-track, too. Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon claimed the top spot in qualifying with a track-record run of 3.730-seconds at 327.82 mph during Saturday’s final session. Brown was 10th after his Matco Tools dragster blew its engine on his final run.

“Alan (Johnson, team manager) and them are always looking for the big numbers,” Langdon said. “They said before the run that it had to go 72 or 73. I knew from the time I stepped on the throttle it was going to be fast.”

Brown will head into Sunday’s finals 67 points ahead of DSR teammate/seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army dragster. Brown is 70 points up on DSR teammate Spencer Massey, his first-round opponent in the Prestone/FRAM dragster. Brown needs to win two rounds to claim the championship regardless of what his rivals do.

Allen Johnson and Eddie Krawiec don’t have to worry about their title chances anymore. By qualifying for the finals, Johnson clinched his first Pro Stock title and Krawiec won the Pro Stock Motorcycle crown for the second year in a row and third time since 2008.

Meanwhile, Jason Line claimed the Pro Stock pole and Andrew Hines stood No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Line, the two-time world champion, took the top spot in Pro Stock by setting a pair of track records with a quarter-mile performance of 6.517-seconds at 212.69 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro.

Closest to Line was Johnson at 6.518-seconds, a run that put his Team Mopar J&J Racing Dodge Avenger into the No. 2 spot.

Hines and Krawiec played “can you top this” during the final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying. Krawiec, fifth in the field when the fourth round began, jumped to No. 1 with a quarter-mile run of 6.811-seconds at 196.59 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod. But Hines, a three-time world champion, reclaimed the top spot he had held since the opening round with a track-record time of 6.809-seconds at 196.53 mph. Still, the move from fifth to second gave Krawiec the points he needed to clinch the championship.

First-round pairings for the 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the final of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel _ 1. Shawn Langdon, 3.730 seconds, 327.82 mph vs. 16. Cory McClenathan, 3.864, 312.50; 2. Brandon Bernstein, 3.751, 328.14 vs. 15. Terry McMillen, 3.861, 316.23; 3. Morgan Lucas, 3.761, 324.98 vs. 14. Mike Salinas, 3.832, 309.63; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.775, 325.69 vs. 13. J.R. Todd, 3.808, 321.19; 5. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.781, 324.20 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.805, 326.08; 6. David Grubnic, 3.787, 322.27 vs. 11. Clay Millican, 3.804, 320.66; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.791, 325.69 vs. 10. Antron Brown, 3.797, 322.58; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.795, 323.89 vs. 9. Bob Vandergriff, 3.797, 324.28.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. T.J. Zizzo, 3.893, 281.25; 18. Troy Buff, 3.946, 301.54; 19. Chris Karamesines, 4.043, 254.38; 20. Steven Chrisman, 4.070, 257.24.

Funny Car _ 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.007, 319.29 vs. 16. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.112, 302.62; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.008, 319.60 vs. 15. Grant Downing, Charger, 4.108, 308.35; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.025, 319.75 vs. 14. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.105, 310.91; 4. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.032, 317.12 vs. 13. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.100, 308.50; 5. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.033, 312.50 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.075, 306.74; 6. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.036, 312.93 vs. 11. John Force, Mustang, 4.075, 315.71; 7. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.037, 309.63 vs. 10. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.062, 313.66; 8. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.046, 313.22 vs. 9. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.053, 313.07.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Tommy Johnson Jr., 4.281, 290.76; 18. Bob Tasca III, 4.300, 304.74; 19. Bob Bode, 4.443, 248.29; 20. Todd Lesenko, 4.787, 153.68; 21. Terry Haddock, 5.093, 151.87; 22. Josh Crawford, 6.003, 180.77.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.517, 212.69 vs. 16. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.589, 209.39; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 15. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.589, 209.52; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.527, 211.89 vs. 14. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.588, 208.84; 4. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.544, 211.49 vs. 13. Jerry Eckman, Pontiac GXP, 6.588, 209.52; 5. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.549, 211.83 vs. 12. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.573, 210.05; 6. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.557, 210.50 vs. 11. Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.572, 211.79; 7. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.559, 210.90 vs. 10. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.571, 210.28; 8. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.562, 211.00 vs. 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.571, 210.83.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Kurt Johnson, 6.591, 209.82; 18. JR Carr, 6.603, 209.04; 19. Deric Kramer, 6.626, 209.43; 20. Steve Kalkowski, 6.630, 207.62; 21. Mark Wolfe, 6.957, 208.52.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.809, 196.53 vs. 16. James Surber, Buell, 6.991, 189.92; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.811, 196.59 vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.985, 188.94; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.859, 192.19 vs. 14. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.965, 191.48; 4. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.864, 194.44 vs. 13. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.931, 190.30; 5. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.872, 194.49 vs. 12. John Hall, Buell, 6.931, 190.78; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.883, 193.90 vs. 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.931, 194.21; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.891, 193.52 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.907, 192.41; 8. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.892, 194.04 vs. 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.895, 193.40.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. GT Tonglet, 6.992, 191.87; 18. Katie Sullivan, 6.996, 187.96; 19. Kieth Burley, 7.089, 185.46; 20. Wesley Wells, 7.100, 186.92; 21. Matt Guidera, 7.114, 185.36; 22. Michael Phillips, 7.128, 189.23; 23. Redell Harris, 7.155, 187.83; 24. Freddie Camarena, 7.158, 189.63; 25. Rhett Lougheed, 7.197, 186.56.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2012
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