Champ Capps Gets On The Board With Baytown Win

| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 24 2017

Ron Capps got his first Funny Car Wally of the season on Sunday. (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

Reigning Funny Car world champion Ron Capps made the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals highlight reel and took home another Wally Trophy after winning his first national event of the 2017 season Sunday in Baytown, Texas.

Racing opposite Robert Hight in the final at Royal Purple Raceway, Capps was unaware that Hight had been disqualified for crossing the centerline moments before Capps’ engine exploded into a fireball as he crossed the finish line.

“I didn’t know we won because it was on fire and I couldn’t see the win light,” said Capps, who won his 50th Funny Car title and third in the event near Houston at the wheel of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. “After I got out of the car on the track, I had my arms up asking the fans, ’Who won?’ One of the racers loading up his car gave me a thumbs-up.”

The NAPA Dodge Powered by Pennzoil team with crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant Eric Lane won for the first time in 13 races dating to the national event at Kent, Wash., during last year’s championship run. Capps also moved to within two points of leader/Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, as the two-time world champion was upset in the first round.

Meanwhile, DSR’s Leah Pritchett prevailed in Top Fuel and Bo Butner earned his first career victory in Pro Stock.

Capps outran Hight with a 1,000-foot pass in 4.004-seconds at 284.33 mph while Hight _ the 2009 world champion from John Force Racing _ pushed his AAA Texas Chevy Camaro SS to a 4.107-second pass at 202.88 mph in his first runnerup effort this season.

“These things become so hard to win these days,” Capps said. “But you take things for granted where I felt like we should’ve won at any of those first three races of the season. NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car division has to be the most competitive thing in the world right now; its cut-throat.”

Capps pushed past Todd Simpson, 16-time world champion John Force and DSR teammate/2012 world champ Jack Beckman before facing Hight in the final. Hight defeated Jim Campbell, J.R. Todd and fellow JFR teammate Courtney Force, who qualified on-pole.

Capps and his crew qualified second with four runs between 3.884 and 3.951-seconds at speeds ranging from 320.89 to 326.56 mph. They continued the pace until the final round and resulting fire, in which Capps was not injured.

“I know we’re taking this trophy to our crewman and brother, Joe Chrisman, tonight,” Capps said. ”Joe had emergency surgery after we got to Houston and he’s still in the hospital. He’ll be fine, and I’m sure.”

In Top Fuel, Pritchett covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.781-seconds at 321.96 mph to defeat native Texan Steve Torrence, who ran 3.787-seconds at 322.11 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. Pritchett posted her fourth career victory and third of the season.

“Our goal was to leave as the point-leader and that was not easy at all,” Pritchett said. “Going into the final we said this is our bounce-back and we’re going to keep it interesting. Never been in a position to really be counting points and I know it’s early in the season, but I’m definitely enjoying that.” Pritchett has a 54-point lead over three-time/reigning world champion Antron Brown, her DSR teammate.

Pritchett raced past Scott Palmer, Doug Kalitta and Brown en route to the victory. Torrence faced Shawn Reed, Troy Coughlin Jr. and No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican before opposing Pritchett in the final.

Butner bagged the first Pro Stock win of his career when he raced his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro to a quarter-mile pass in 6.550-seconds at 212.26 mph to defeat No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. Coughlin, a five-time world champion, drove his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Camaro to a 6.562-second pass at 212.03 mph in his first final-round appearance since the event near Seattle in 2015.

Butner’s breakthrough win came in his seventh final-round appearance. Butner, who joined the Pro Stock ranks in 2015, was the NHRA Lucas Oil Comp world champion in 2006 and a four-time Division 3 champ. Butner finished a career-best fourth in the 2016 point standings.

“Any win that you stand on that stage _ Super Stock, Super Street or whatever it is _ (the feeling) never gets old,” said Butner, a 42-year-old resident of Floyds Knobs, Ind. “It’s a great feeling and you can’t explain it unless you experience it. To make four consecutive win lights is very tough and a lot harder than I expected.” Butner’s Ken Black Racing team is led by crew chiefs Darrel Herron and Rob Downing.

In addition to knocking off Coughlin, Butner defeated 2012 world champion Allen Johnson and four-time world champ/KBR teammate Greg Anderson before facing Coughlin in the final. Coughlin lined up against Chris McGaha and Tanner Gray en route to his finals appearance.

The 2017 season continues at the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals April 28-30 at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Steve Matusek earned his first NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event win Sunday at the SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway. The event presented by Real Pro Mod Association was the second of 12 races on the schedule.

Matusek drove his Aeromotive 1968 Chevy Camaro to an 8.985-second pass at 124.96 mph after his opponent, Shane Molinari, left the starting line before the Christmas Tree was activated.

“For me, it’s about family,” Matusek said. “The racing’s great, but it’s all about family. Danny Row, (his wife) Val, my wife Lori, our team, Jimmy Rector. For us, it’s family, and this is for the whole team. I couldn’t have done it without them and this is a special day.”

Mike Castellana, the No. 1 qualifier, set the national elapsed time record with his second-round pass of 5.685-seconds at 252.99 mph. Castellana ultimately fell to Matusek in the semifinals. Matusek defeated Danny Rowe in the quarterfinals before facing Castellana. Molinari took down Mike Janis and No. 2 qualifier Jonathon Gray before losing in the final.

NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing returns April 28-30 during the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas:

Top Fuel _ 1. Leah Pritchett; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Antron Brown; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Doug Kalitta; 6. Bob Vandergriff Jr.; 7.  Tony Schumacher; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 9.  Shawn Langdon; 10.  Terry McMillen; 11.  Shawn Reed; 12.  Brittany Force; 13.  Terry Haddock; 14.  Scott Palmer; 15.  Steven Chrisman; 16.  Troy Buff.

Funny Car _1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Robert Hight; 3.  Courtney Force; 4.  Jack Beckman; 5.  J.R. Todd; 6.  John Force; 7.  Alexis DeJoria; 8.  Jonnie Lindberg; 9.  Cruz Pedregon; 10.  Del Worsham; 11.  Jim Campbell; 12.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 13.  Matt Hagan; 14.  Tim Wilkerson; 15.  Jeff Diehl; 16.  Todd Simpson.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Bo Butner; 2.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 3.  Greg Anderson; 4.  Tanner Gray; 5.  Chris McGaha; 6.  Vincent Nobile; 7.  Richie Stevens; 8.  Erica Enders; 9.  Alex Laughlin; 10.  Allen Johnson; 11.  Drew Skillman; 12.  Jason Line; 13.  Alan Prusiensky.

Sunday’s final results from the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway:

Top Fuel _Leah Pritchett, 3.781-seconds, 321.96 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.787-seconds, 322.11 mph.

Funny Car _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.004, 284.33 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, Foul/Centerline.

Pro Stock _ Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.550, 212.26 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.562, 212.03.

Pro Modified _Steve Matusek, Chevy Camaro, 8.985, 124.96 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, Foul/Red Light.

Top Fuel Harley_ Jay Turner, Triple J, 6.219, 222.47 def. Bob Malloy, Buell, 6.312, 209.88.

Top Alcohol Dragster _Joey Severance, 5.203, 275.39 def. Mia Tedesco, 5.445, 264.70.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.428, 272.12 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, 11.171, 66.34.

Super Stock _Norvell Bowers, Pontiac Firebird, 10.587, 124.18 def. Kevin Helms, Dodge Challenger, 9.383, 130.15.

Stock Eliminator _Kevin Helms, Dodge Challenger, 10.096, 121.74 def. Austin Ford, Ford Mustang, 9.632, 131.56.

Super Gas _ Steve Collier, Chevy Vega, 9.900, 167.66 def. Roger Warren, Chevy Corvette, 9.899, 162.00.

Super Comp _ Alan Savage, Dragster, 8.888, 182.01 def. Britt Cummings, Dragster, 8.876, 166.23.

Super Street _ Chris Vang, Chevy Chevelle, 10.834, 137.72 def. Val Harmon, Chevy Nova, Foul/Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Keith Raftery, Chevy Camaro, 6.479, 195.68 def. Vince Hoda, Camaro, 6.851, 198.93.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ J.R. Baxter, Dragster, 6.130, 227.31 def. William Kruse, Dragster, Foul /Red Light.

Final round-by-round results from the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway:


ROUND ONE _Tony Schumacher, 3.758, 322.11 def. Troy Buff, Broke; Clay Millican, 3.729, 326.79 def. Steven Chrisman, 9.654, 83.58; Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.852, 277.20 def. Brittany Force, 3.871, 274.55; Doug Kalitta, 3.761, 325.06 def. Terry McMillen, 3.833, 315.86; Antron Brown, 3.752, 321.04 def. Terry Haddock, 3.931, 283.79; Steve Torrence, 3.748, 324.20 def. Shawn Reed, 3.867, 315.86; Leah Pritchett, 3.748, 324.59 def. Scott Palmer, 4.766, 152.52; Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.770, 323.43 def.Shawn Langdon, 3.813, 318.84;

QUARTERFINALS _ Brown, 3.766, 326.00 def. Vandergriff, 3.778, 323.89; Millican, 3.784, 320.97 def.Schumacher, 3.779, 317.34; Torrence, 3.755, 324.20 def. Coughlin, 6.779, 93.70; Pritchett, 3.763, 324.05 def. Kalitta, 3.759, 326.56;

SEMIFINALS _Pritchett, 3.772, 319.45 def. Brown, 3.815, 322.11; Torrence, 3.760, 323.27 def.Millican, 8.621, 87.00;

FINAL _ Pritchett, 3.781, 321.96 def. Torrence, 3.787, 322.11.


ROUND ONE_ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.897, 327.90 def. Todd Simpson, Chevy Camaro, 11.347, 81.01; Courtney Force, Camaro, 5.344, 132.02 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 10.819, 77.81; John Force, Camaro, 4.216, 220.08 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.485, 205.51; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.870, 331.77 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.543, 195.51; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.959, 323.58 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.935, 322.04; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.224, 222.62 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.142, 162.12; Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.944, 326.16 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.556, 190.16; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.927, 327.03 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 8.109, 112.19;

QUARTERFINALS_ Capps, 3.951, 321.04 def. Lindberg, 5.159, 153.63; Hight, 3.898, 327.82 def. Todd, 3.958, 324.36; Beckman, 3.897, 329.18 def. J. Force, 4.134, 273.39; C. Force, 3.947, 294.37 def. DeJoria, 4.146, 260.16;

SEMIFINALS _ Hight, 3.908, 324.98 def. C. Force, 3.943, 324.28; Capps, 3.926, 325.37 def. Beckman, 6.126, 114.85;

FINAL _ Capps, 4.004, 284.33 def. Hight, Foul/Centerline.


ROUND ONE _ Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.565, 211.86 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.548, 211.89 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.581, 210.97; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.555, 212.03 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.563, 210.90; Richie Stevens, Dodge Dart, 6.589,210.64 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.536, 211.46 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.588, 211.03; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.523, 213.33 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.567, 211.16; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.499, 213.03 was unopposed;

QUARTERFINALS _ Gray, 6.547, 211.86 def. Stevens, 6.628, 209.75; Anderson, 6.558, 211.73 def. Nobile, 6.590, 211.73; Butner, 6.544, 212.06 was unopposed; Coughlin, 6.546, 211.73 def. McGaha, 6.574, 211.43;

SEMIFINALS _ Coughlin, 6.558, 211.63 def. Gray, Foul/Red Light; Butner, 6.536, 212.69 def.Anderson, Foul /Red Light;

FINAL _Butner, 6.550, 212.26 def. Coughlin, 6.562, 212.03.

Point standings (top-10) following the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway:

Top Fuel _1.  Leah Pritchett, 494; 2.  Antron Brown, 440; 3.  Tony Schumacher, 438; 4.  Doug Kalitta, 358; 5. Steve Torrence, 352; 6.  Brittany Force, 282; 7.  Clay Millican, 269; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 228; 9.  Terry McMillen, 195; 10.  Scott Palmer, 180.

Funny Car _1.  Matt Hagan, 400; 2.  Ron Capps, 398; 3.  John Force, 371; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 357; 5.  (tie) Courtney Force, 301; Robert Hight, 301; 7.  Jack Beckman, 282; 8.  Jonnie Lindberg, 235; 9.  J.R. Todd, 222; 10. Jim Campbell, 211.

Pro Stock _1.  Greg Anderson, 457; 2.  Bo Butner, 426; 3.  Jason Line, 403; 4.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 372; 5.  Tanner Gray, 370; 6.  Shane Gray, 278; 7.  Erica Enders, 255; 8.  Chris McGaha, 246; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 235; 10.  Drew Skillman, 225.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway:

1.Steve Matusek; 2.  Shane Molinari; 3.  Mike Castellana; 4.  Jonathan Gray; 5.  Danny Rowe; 6.  Mike Janis; 7.  Troy Coughlin; 8.  Shannon Jenkins; 9.  Chuck Little; 10.  Michael Biehle; 11.  Eric Latino; 12.  Steven Whiteley; 13.  Larry Morgan; 14.  Khalid alBalooshi; 15.  Sidnei Frigo.

Final round-by-round results from the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway:

ROUND ONE  _Bob Rahaim, Chevy Corvette, DQ def. Sidnei Frigo, Corvette, DQ; Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.789, 251.77 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Chevy Camaro, 10.699, 82.60; Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.817, 250.18 def. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 6.273, 175.11; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.825,246.53 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.934, 224.06; Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.811, 250.00 def. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.707, 161.83; Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.815, 254.76 def. Chuck Little, Corvette, 5.816, 247.34; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.815, 223.17 def. Shannon Jenkins, Ford Mustang, 5.809, 240.68; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.722, 251.77 def. Michael Biehle, Mustang, 5.845, 254.66;

QUARTERFINALS _ Castellana, 5.685, 252.99 was unopposed; Gray, 5.801, 250.04 def. Coughlin, 10.018, 81.15; Matusek, 5.793, 251.77 def. Rowe, 5.944, 208.42; Molinari, 5.811, 255.92 def. Janis, 6.446, 167.72;

SEMIFINALS _Molinari, 5.843, 240.38 def. Gray, 9.355, 94.35; Matusek, 5.804, 251.95 def.Castellana, 7.361, 130.30;

FINAL _ Matusek, 8.985, 124.96 def. Molinari, Foul/Red Light.

Point standings (top-10) following the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals:

  1. Mike Castellana, 169; 2.  Steve Matusek, 147; 3.  Steven Whiteley, 146; 4.  Danny Rowe, 129; 5.  Troy Coughlin, 125; 6.  Shane Molinari, 106; 7.  Mike Janis, 104; 8.  Michael Biehle, 82; 9.  Eric Latino, 78; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 77.
| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 24 2017
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