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Capps Tops Force To Win In Sonoma

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, July 29 2013

Ron Capps took down John Force in the finals of the NHRA Funny Car competition in Sonoma on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series)

Win or lose, NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps typically credits crew chief Rahn Tobler for the attention to detail on his 8,000-horsepower hot rod. On Sunday, Capps also could give himself a slap on the back for posting the starting line reaction time that helped him defeat 15-time world champion John Force in the final of the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to his fourth win at the scenic Bay Area track with a hole shot, 1,000-foot performance of 4.085-seconds at 307.79 mph to hold off Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang (4.072-seconds/311.13 mph). The win was the second of the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and 40th in the career of the native of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“You’re not just racing any car in the final – you’re racing John Force. It can be intimidating to a lot of people,” said Capps, saluting his friendly archrival. “A hole shot-win only comes with a great car. That 4.04 we ran to beat Courtney (Force in the semifinals) was stout.”

The tune-up by Tobler and assistant John Collins helped Capps move up two positions into second in the point standings behind Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, the former world champion who was upset in the first round as No. 1 qualifier by Alexis DeJoria. Hagan leads Capps by 27 points, a little over one-round of racing. This is Capps’ highest ranking since he left Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway tied for first in mid-March.

“I try to stay humble,” Capps said. “I have a lot of great people behind me to keep me focused. I think we can accomplish that goal of getting to the top.”

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in the 15th of 24 national events, and Round 2 of the three-race Western Swing.

Capps, who qualified third, started the day with a 4.066-second pass to beat former Top Fuel world champion Del Worsham and followed with a 4.099 run to eliminate Jeff Arend before meeting Courtney Force in the semis. It was Capps’ fourth championship round of the season, and ended a streak of 12 events without a title.

“I’ve been thinking all weekend that if I won here I would dedicate it John Cardinale,” said Capps, referring to Sonoma Raceway’s longtime vice president of media and marketing. Cardinale, 47, died on March 20 after waging two-year battle against cancer.

“It was sad to be here and not see John,” Capps said. “That’s the best part about winning; to be able to dedicate a win to him and let his family and friends know a lot of us out here will always remember him.”

The day also was special as Capps now has attended every NHRA national event at Sonoma as either a fan or racer since the inaugural edition 25 years ago. “It meant so much to have all of my family here this weekend,” Capps said. “This is where I grew up, met my wife and got married. There are so many great memories for me here, and this is the latest one.”

The victory by the NAPA team was the 17th of the season by DSR drivers out of a possible 30 nitro titles, a winning rate of 56 percent.

In Top Fuel, point-leader Langdon claimed his fourth win of the season and fifth of his career by defeating former high school classmate Morgan Lucas in the final. Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 1,000-foot performance of 3.920-seconds at 240.47 mph to hold off Lucas’ GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, which slowed near mid-track.

“This is a dream season,” Langdon said. “To get four wins at this point in the season feels like we have a strong car. Racing Morgan was pretty cool because we grew up together and went to high school together. A lot of memories racing with friends.”

With the win, his first at Sonoma, Langdon extended his series point-lead to 102 over second-place Spencer Massey of DSR. Langdon outran Baytown, Texas, winner Bob Vandergriff Jr., veteran Doug Kalitta and reigning world champion Antron Brown to advance to the final.

In Pro Stock, Nobile and his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger team picked up their second win of the season. Nobile drove to victory with a quarter-mile performance of 6.572-seconds at 208.58 mph against four-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., whose JEGS.com/Mopar Avenger shook the tires and shut off.

“This was an interesting day for sure but we were long overdue for a win,” Nobile said. “In the final, our engine was hurt in the water box and I thought I was a sitting duck. That’s a helpless feeling. Jeg is someone I’ve always looked up to when I was little. He is still one of the best, if not the best driver out here.”

The victory was Nobile’s second of the season and seventh of his career, moving him to fifth in points. Nobile defeated three former world champions _ Jason Line, point-leader and event top qualifier Mike Edwards and Greg Anderson _ to reach the final round.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. claimed his fourth win of the season, riding his Lucas Oil Buell to a quarter-mile performance of 6.878-seconds at 195.45 mph to beat event top qualifier and Viper Motorcycle Company Buell rider Matt Smith in the final. It was Arana Jr.’s seventh career victory and first at Sonoma.

“It was nice to have a little momentum to get back to the top,” Arana Jr. said. “It had been a while for us. After I won those three races, I started to think about winning the race before winning the first round. Not anymore.”

Arana Jr. beat Scotty Pollacheck, Jerry Savoie and Katie Sullivan to reach the final. Arana Jr. remained the series point leader while runner-up Smith clinched a berth into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race postseason playoffs that begin Sept. 13-15 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

The Western Swing will conclude Aug. 2-4 with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., near Seattle.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race was the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel _ 1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Morgan Lucas; 3. Spencer Massey; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Doug Kalitta; 6. Khalid alBalooshi; 7. David Grubnic; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9. Bob Vandergriff Jr.; 10. Clay Millican; 11. T.J. Zizzo; 12. Brandon Bernstein; 13. Terry McMillen; 14. Steve Torrence; 15. Brittany Force; 16. Tony Schumacher.

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps; 2. John Force; 3. Alexis DeJoria; 4. Courtney Force; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Johnny Gray; 8. Jeff Arend; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Tony Pedregon; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. Del Worsham; 13. Tim Wilkerson; 14. Gary Densham; 15. Matt Hagan; 16. Todd Lesenko.

Pro Stock _1. Vincent Nobile; 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Mike Edwards; 6. V. Gaines; 7. Shane Gray; 8. Rickie Jones; 9. Larry Morgan; 10. Jason Line; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Chris McGaha; 13. Steve Kent; 14. JR Carr; 15. Deric Kramer.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Hector Arana Jr.; 2. Matt Smith; 3. Hector Arana; 4. Katie Sullivan; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Angie Smith; 7. LE Tonglet; 8. Jerry Savoie; 9. Steve Johnson; 10. Adam Arana; 11. Scotty Pollacheck; 12. Karen Stoffer; 13. Andrew Hines; 14. John Hall; 15. Shawn Gann; 16. Michael Ray.

Sunday’s final results from the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway:

Top Fuel _ Shawn Langdon, 3.920-seconds, 240.47 mph def. Morgan Lucas, 4.628-seconds, 183.69 mph.

Funny Car _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.085, 307.79 def. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.072, 311.13.

Pro Stock _Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.572, 208.59 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 7.627, 137.95.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.878, 195.45 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.877, 195.45.

Super Stock _ Jody Lang, Chevy Malibu, 10.883, 119.26 def. Staci Smith, Dodge Daytona, 9.672, 133.99.

Stock Eliminator _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 11.007, 117.20 def. Brent Calvert, Ford Mustang, 9.743, 132.21.

Super Comp _ Steve Williams, Dragster, 8.928, 181.11 def. Ken Mostowich, Chevy Cavalier, 8.958, 167.16.

Super Gas _ Rick Beckstrom, Pontiac Grand Am, 9.911, 168.51 def. Mike Blodgett, Chevy Vega, 9.891, 143.22.

Top Dragster _ Bob Button, Dragster, 6.807, 187.55 def. George Prather, Dragster, 6.693, 196.73.

Top Sportsman _ Jeff Gillette, Pontiac GTO, 6.962, 200.14 def. Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.376, 180.60.

Final round-by-round results from the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway:

Top Fuel

Round One _ Antron Brown, 3.787, 322.58 def. Clay Millican, 3.795, 323.12; Shawn Langdon, 3.743, 324.51 def. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.786, 320.66; Khalid alBalooshi, 3.794, 323.50 def. Brandon Bernstein, 3.872, 322.27; David Grubnic, 3.795, 324.59 def. Terry McMillen, 3.876, 321.65; Tommy Johnson Jr., 3.786, 324.51 def. Steve Torrence, 3.918, 310.63; Doug Kalitta, 3.785, 326.87 def. Brittany Force, 4.770, 163.35; Spencer Massey, 4.291, 242.71 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.380, 148.35; Morgan Lucas, 3.757, 328.30 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.835, 321.81;

Quarterfinals _ Massey, 3.822, 324.59 def. alBalooshi, 3.820, 323.97; Brown, 3.835, 314.31 def. Johnson Jr., 6.996, 85.31; Lucas, 4.296, 266.16 def. Grubnic, 4.323, 193.68; Langdon, 3.799, 324.67 def. Kalitta, 3.819, 326.87;

Semifinals _ Lucas, 3.808, 322.50 def. Massey, 3.832, 317.72; Langdon, 3.804, 324.98 def. Brown, 5.346, 114.57;

Final _ Langdon, 3.920, 240.47 def. Lucas, 4.628, 183.69.

Funny Car

Round One _ Johnny Gray, Dodge Charger, 4.057, 315.42 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.941, 157.25; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.066, 311.20 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.855, 188.94; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.705, 185.08 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.228, 189.87; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.057, 313.29 def. Todd Lesenko, Charger, DQ; John Force, Mustang, 4.073, 312.86 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.267, 258.22; Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.170, 287.23 def. Gary Densham, Charger, 5.081, 151.70; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.088, 317.72 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.831, 168.94; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.018, 317.49 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.105, 312.21;

Quarterfinals _ C. Force, 4.089, 315.34 def. Beckman, 4.067, 313.51; J. Force, 4.057, 313.95 def. Gray, 4.991, 153.14; DeJoria, 4.145, 306.33 def. Hight, 4.127, 283.91; R. Capps, 4.099, 308.35 def. Arend, 6.018, 115.56;

Semifinals _ R. Capps, 4.048, 315.34 def. C. Force, 4.506, 186.59; J. Force, 4.086, 311.34 def. DeJoria, 4.095, 309.84;

Final _ R. Capps, 4.085, 307.79 def. J. Force, 4.072, 311.13.

Pro Stock

Round One _ Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.565, 210.70 def. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.573, 210.97; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.562, 210.54 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.586, 211.43; Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.541, 211.56 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.563, 210.57; V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.555, 211.96 def. Steve Kent, Camaro, 6.608, 210.05; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.571, 211.36 def. JR Carr, Mustang, 6.608, 208.91; Mike Edwards, Camaro, 6.541, 212.09 was unopposed; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.523, 212.23 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.608, 209.43; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.534, 211.93 def. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.600, 210.47;

Quarterfinals _ Anderson, 6.559, 211.30 def. Gaines, 6.541, 212.06; Nobile, 6.559, 211.16 def. Edwards, 6.532, 212.33; Johnson, 6.534, 212.06 def. Jones, foul; Coughlin Jr., 6.544, 211.43 def. Gray, 6.541, 211.89;

Semifinals _ Nobile, 6.557, 211.39 def. Anderson, foul; Coughlin Jr., 6.556, 211.53 def. Johnson, 6.539, 211.63;

Final _ Nobile, 6.572, 208.59 def. Coughlin Jr., 7.627, 137.95.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Round One _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.824, 195.56 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 195.00; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.874, 195.11 def. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.838, 195.79; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.866, 193.99 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.830, 195.51; Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.871, 191.08 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.635, 140.43; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.858, 194.55 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, foul; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.842, 194.83 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.854, 193.79; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.805, 198.15 def. John Hall, Buell, 6.884, 192.82; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.826, 196.44 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.922, 194.10;

Quarterfinals _ Sullivan, 6.928, 190.35 def. A. Smith, foul; Arana Jr., 6.851, 196.64 def. Savoie, 6.872, 195.11; M. Smith, 6.843, 196.73 def. Krawiec, 6.842, 196.87; H. Arana, 6.816, 198.44 def. Tonglet, 6.868, 195.22;

Semifinals _ Arana Jr., 6.856, 195.25 def. Sullivan, 6.904, 190.89; M. Smith, 6.827, 195.59 def. H. Arana, 6.891, 196.07;

Final _ Arana Jr., 6.878, 195.45 def. M. Smith, 6.877, 195.45.

Point standings (top-10) following the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway:

Top Fuel _1. Shawn Langdon, 1,210; 2. Spencer Massey, 1,108; 3. Tony Schumacher, 1,106; 4. Doug Kalitta, 924; 5. Antron Brown, 904; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 865; 7. Clay Millican, 769; 8. Morgan Lucas, 768; 9. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 726; 10. Steve Torrence, 688.

Funny Car _1. Matt Hagan, 1,034; 2. Ron Capps, 1,007; 3. Cruz Pedregon, 983; 4. John Force, 961; 5. Johnny Gray, 945; 6. (tie) Jack Beckman, 910; Courtney Force, 910; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 804; 9. Del Worsham, 799; 10. Robert Hight, 782.

Pro Stock _1. Mike Edwards, 1,339; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,273; 3. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,147; 4. Shane Gray, 948; 5. Vincent Nobile, 918; 6. Jason Line, 902; 7. Greg Anderson, 821; 8. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 9. V. Gaines, 742; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 660.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., 795; 2. Matt Smith, 646; 3. Michael Ray, 599; 4. Hector Arana, 553; 5. John Hall, 534; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 523; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 465; 8. Adam Arana, 462; 9. Shawn Gann, 428; 10. Steve Johnson, 424.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, July 29 2013
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