Capps Wins The Grove; Back On Top In Funny Cars

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 25 2017

Ron Capps collected another Wally as he won Sunday in Pennsylvania. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Reigning world champion Ron Capps reclaimed the NHRA Funny Car point-lead Sunday with a playoff victory at Maple Grove Raceway that neatly fit his definition of that’s amore!

Capps powered past Courtney Force in the final of the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals to claim his first win at the facility in Reading, Pa., retaking the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship point lead he relinquished one week ago.

“Every time I’ve driven through the gate here, I say, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you Maple Grove. Give me some love back.’ I’ve always left here a little short,” said Capps, who began competing at MGR in 1995 in Top Fuel. “Getting the points lead back was secondary to winning here. It was an ecstatic feeling in the shutdown area.”

Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged with victories in their respective categories at the second of six playoff events during the Countdown.

Capps secured his category-best seventh victory of the season and 57th of his career with a 1,000-foot-pass in 3.968-seconds at 326.48 mph in his Dodge Charger R/T to defeat Force’s 3.993-second run at 311.70 mph in her Chevy Camaro SS.

Capps, who qualified third, lost traction in his opening round match against Jim Campbell but recovered just enough to win with an elapsed time of 4.166-seconds to Campbell’s 4.213. In Round 2, Capps eliminated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and followed with a victory over teammate Matt Hagan. A two-time world champion and the No. 2 qualifier, Hagan held a slight lead when his Dodge’s parachutes prematurely deployed to seal the win for Capps.

“We got lucky a little bit in the first round, but we feel like our hard work makes our own luck for us and we were fortunate to win it with consistency,” Capps said. “We know this Funny Car class is as tough as it’s ever been, so this won’t be easy through the last four races of the year.”

Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler reacted on the fly when one-week point-leader and Maple Grove pole-sitter Robert Hight of John Force Racing was upset in Sunday’s second round by teammate Courtney Force.

“When he lost in the second round I didn’t want to know but someone told me,” said Capps, who was the top seed heading into the Countdown-opening Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. “My left clutch foot started shaking and I’m thinking, ‘There’s a chance we can go around him.’ You wouldn’t think after 22 years that it would affect you.” Capps methodically proceeded to the final at MGR for the second consecutive year and fourth time in his career.

In the final, Capps held a lead over Force and received another break near the finish line when the parachutes on her Camaro deployed early.

“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” said Capps, who leads Hight by eight points heading into next weekend’s race at Gateway Motorsport Park at Madison, Ill., near St. Louis. “Tobler got after it and started chipping away. You don’t want to give him too many runs on Sunday. He’ll ‘Tobler’ you do death!”

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force took down Steve Torrence in the final round with a 1,000-foot pass of 3.756-seconds at 326.24 mph in her dragster to secure her second victory of the season and first since Epping, N.H., in June. Force now has reached the final round at Maple Grove three times in her career, including 2016.

Force entered Sunday as the No. 4 qualifier before defeating Wayne Newby, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher of DSR and three-time/reigning world champ Antron Brown on her way to the third final round of the year. Torrence qualified third and was victorious against Terry Haddock, Leah Pritchett and Dom Lagana as he reached his 10th final this season. Torrence retook the points lead with the runnerup finish in his Capco Contractors dragster.

“Looking at it, we did not have an easy ladder,” Force said. “It was tough all day long and the Monster team killed it all day long. We turned a corner at the right time and we’re right in the Countdown picture.

“This is a huge win for us. This team had to fight all day long and I’m so proud of them. They’re the best team to work with, and I’m so pumped going into the Countdown to work with them. This team, we’re going after the championship.”

Force eradicated some personal demons in Reading, as she’d been to the final twice before without winning. She lost to Brown in the final last year and to Schumacher in the final in 2014. Force now has been to three finals in five races in Reading, winning once. Reading was her fifth career victory and second of 2017.

“Anything can change each weekend,” Force said. “If we keep hanging around the way we have been, with the semifinals last weekend and winning this weekend, we could keep moving up and go after the championship. That’s our plan.”

In Pro Stock, Butner drove to a quarter-mile victory with a 6.613-second pass at 209.95 mph in his Chevy Camaro to defeat Ken Black Racing teammate Greg Anderson’s 6.660 at 206.95. Butner locked down his fourth career victory, all four of which have come this season, as he reclaimed the Countdown lead.

“I’m really excited about where we’re at, but we know there are still four more races left so we just have to keep doing our jobs,” Butner said. “We had eight good runs this weekend so things kind of worked in our favor this time around, and it shows how strong our team is.”

Butner was the No. 1 qualifier and continued his weekend with victories over Val Smeland, two-time world champion Erica Enders and 2012 world champ Allen Johnson before reaching his ninth final round of 2017. Anderson, a four-time world champ, earned the sixth slot in qualifying and defeated Brian Self, rookie Tanner Gray and KB Racing teammate/three-time world champ Jason Line on the way to his ninth final of the season.

Krawiec rode to the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory with a quarter-mile pass in 6.852-seconds at 196.70 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod to defeat LE Tonglet on his Suzuki in the final. A three-time world champion, Krawiec earned his fifth victory of the season and third consecutive to improve his lead in the standings.

“Things are definitely on the upswing since we switched back to last year’s chassis; it’s been huge for me and my team at the exact right time,” Krawiec said. “We didn’t start out as strong as we had hoped in qualifying, but we put it all together today and we’re pretty pleased with these results.”

Krawiec qualified fourth before taking down Kelly Clontz, teammate/five-time world champ Andrew Hines and No. 1 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck en route to the final. Tonglet was the No. 7 qualifier and bested Angie Smith, teammate/reigning world champion Jerry Savoie and Hector Arana Jr. as he finished as runnerup for only the second time in his seven final rounds this year.

The posteason will continue with the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park from Sept. 29-Oct. 1.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. The race is the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and second of sixth in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs:

Top Fuel _1. Brittany Force; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Dom Lagana; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Leah Pritchett; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Doug Kalitta; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Audrey Worm; 11. Shawn Langdon; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. Richie Crampton; 14. Wayne Newby; 15. Scott Palmer.

Funny Car _ 1. Ron Capps; 2. Courtney Force; 3. Jack Beckman; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 7. Robert Hight; 8. Jonnie Lindberg; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. Bob Tasca III; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. Jim Campbell; 13. Mike Smith; 14. Alexis DeJoria; 15. John Force; 16. Jeff Diehl. 

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Jason Line; 5. Matt Hartford; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Tanner Gray; 8. Drew Skillman; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 10. Chris McGaha; 11. Alan Prusiensky; 12. Larry Morgan; 13. Kenny Delco; 14. Val Smeland; 15. Alex Laughlin; 16. Brian Self. 

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. LE Tonglet; 3. Scotty Pollacheck; 4. Hector Arana Jr.; 5. Andrew Hines; 6. Matt Smith; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. Jerry Savoie; 9. Steve Johnson; 10. Joey Gladstone; 11. Ron Tornow; 12. Angie Smith; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Charles Sullivan; 15. Andie Rawlings; 16. Lance Bonham. 

Sunday’s final results from the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway: 

Top Fuel  _Brittany Force, 3.756-seconds, 326.24 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.857-seconds, 258.76 mph. 

Funny Car _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.968, 326.48 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.993, 311.70.

Pro Stock _ Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.613, 209.95 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.660, 206.95.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 196.70 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 17.593, 31.71. 

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Jeff Veale, 5.402, 274.27 def. Jackie Fricke, 5.384, 269.89.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.542, 265.69 def. Phil Burkart, Camaro, 5.586, 264.34.

Competition Eliminator _ Tom Martino, Chevy Cobalt, 8.684, 144.66 def. Scott Benham, Chevy S-10, 8.232, 163.99.

Super Stock _ Byron Worner, Chevy Camaro, 9.863, 133.26 def. Anthony Bertozzi, Pontiac Grand Am, 9.062, 145.78.

Stock Eliminator _ Karl Martel, Chevy Camaro, 10.262, 121.96 def. Lenny Williams, Buick Gran Sport, 11.139, 113.98.

Super Comp _ Lauren Freer, Dragster, 8.899, 177.93 def. Jeff Kundratic, Dragster, 8.869, 165.25.

Super Gas _ Kevin Robb, Chevy Corvette, 9.899, 162.84 def. Ray Sawyer, Chevy Camaro, 9.892, 176.05. 

Final round-by-round results from the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway:


ROUND ONE _ Antron Brown, 3.758, 290.94 def. Richie Crampton, 7.999, 70.92; Clay Millican, 3.705, 328.62 was unopposed; Brittany Force, 3.727, 329.91 def. Wayne Newby, 9.483, 85.00; Doug Kalitta, 3.766, 328.14 def. Audrey Worm, 4.436, 271.13; Steve Torrence, 3.787, 323.74 def. Terry Haddock, 5.336, 153.58; Tony Schumacher, 3.754, 327.98 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Leah Pritchett, 3.760,328.70 def. Terry McMillen, 3.786, 322.58; Dom Lagana, 3.790, 320.20 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.503, 203.71;

QUARTERFINALS _ Brown, 3.778, 311.49 def. Millican, 4.003, 231.60; Lagana, 4.301, 243.24 def. Kalitta, 7.164, 127.99; Torrence, 3.767, 325.92 def. Pritchett, 3.825, 274.22; Force, 3.743, 330.47 def. Schumacher, 3.873, 311.49;

SEMIFINALS _ Torrence, 3.741, 326.63 def. Lagana, 9.385, 75.58; Force, 3.905, 255.10 def. Brown, 9.803, 84.16;

FINAL _ Force, 3.756, 326.24 def. Torrence, 3.857, 258.76.


ROUND ONE _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.166, 233.96 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.213, 285.95; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.879, 332.43 def. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 4.239, 292.08; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.912, 334.65 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 5.875, 122.90; Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.946, 324.83 def. John Force, Camaro, 5.384, 134.77; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.938, 330.63 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.027, 318.39; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.226, 226.62 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.684, 266.27; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.953, 326.56 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.958, 326.71; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.962, 298.80 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.999, 325.45;

QUARTERFINALS _ Beckman, 3.952, 326.40 def. Lindberg, 11.160, 95.71; C. Force, 3.965, 326.16 def. Hight, 5.868, 118.94; Hagan, 3.955, 324.36 def. Wilkerson, 3.995, 322.65; Capps, 3.987, 326.32 def. Johnson Jr., 5.135, 146.21;

SEMIFINALS _ Capps, 3.944, 324.67 def. Hagan, 3.990, 311.20; C. Force, 3.968, 329.50 def. Beckman, 3.948, 327.74;

FINAL _ Capps, 3.968, 326.48 def. C. Force, 3.993, 311.70.


ROUND ONE _ Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.657, 208.36 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.640, 207.78; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.629, 209.20 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 11.768, 74.94; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.613, 209.30 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.638, 208.84; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.641, 208.26 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.753, 204.51; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.623, 207.98 def. Larry Morgan, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 209.43 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.679, 206.86; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.594, 209.39 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.834, 202.21; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.623, 208.94 def. Brian Self, Camaro, 14.484, 58.80;

QUARTERFINALS _ Anderson, 7.469, 153.84 def. Gray, 14.206, 78.66; Johnson, 6.649, 208.46 def. Skillman, 15.286, 55.62; Line, 6.620, 208.55 def. Hartford, 6.653, 207.62; Butner, 6.635, 208.20 def. Enders, 6.667, 207.69;

SEMIFINALS _ Butner, 6.656, 206.54 def. Johnson, 6.682, 207.46; Anderson, 6.677, 207.88 def. Line, 9.062, 104.61;

FINAL _ Butner, 6.613, 209.95 def. Anderson, 6.660, 206.95.


ROUND ONE _Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.872, 195.42 def. Lance Bonham, Buell, Broke/No Show; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.884, 195.31 def. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.852, 169.53; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.089, 157.96 def. Angie Smith, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.942, 193.40 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.950, 192.60; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.901, 196.04 def. Ron Tornow, Buell, 7.004, 190.46; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.879, 196.59 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.023, 189.47; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.889, 196.33 def. Charles Sullivan, Buell, 7.044, 189.31; Matt Smith, 6.865, 196.16 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.988, 191.19;

QUARTERFINALS _Tonglet, 6.952, 193.46 def. Savoie, 8.841, 97.88; Arana Jr, 6.922, 194.04 def. Stoffer, 6.993, 191.89; Krawiec, 6.870, 194.88 def. Hines, 6.920, 194.58; Pollacheck, 6.905, 195.22 def. M. Smith, 6.943, 194.63;

SEMIFINALS _ Tonglet, 6.945, 194.44 def. Arana Jr, 7.104, 183.54; Krawiec, 6.897, 195.28 def. Pollacheck, 6.886, 194.52;

FINAL _ Krawiec, 6.852, 196.70 def. Tonglet, 17.593, 31.71.

Point standings (top-10) following the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway: 

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 2,259; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,237; 3. Brittany Force, 2,236; 4. Antron Brown, 2,208; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,174; 6. Clay Millican, 2,171; 7. Leah Pritchett, 2,162; 8. Terry McMillen, 2,083; 9. Scott Palmer, 2,074; 10. Shawn Langdon, 2,068.

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps, 2,273; 2. Robert Hight, 2,265; 3. Courtney Force, 2,234; 4. Matt Hagan, 2,183; 5.Jack Beckman, 2,173; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,159; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,135; 8. John Force, 2,116; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,098; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 2,065.

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner, 2,307; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,266; 3. Tanner Gray, 2,265; 4. Jason Line, 2,217; 5.Drew Skillman, 2,169; 6. Erica Enders, 2,144; 7. Allen Johnson, 2,119; 8. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 2,116; 9. Chris McGaha, 2,067; 10. Vincent Nobile, 2,052.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_1. Eddie Krawiec, 2,319; 2. LE Tonglet, 2,248; 3. Hector Arana Jr., 2,230; 4. Jerry Savoie, 2,203; 5. Andrew Hines, 2,199; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,171; 7. Matt Smith, 2,160; 8. Karen Stoffer, 2,096; 9. Joey Gladstone, 2,085; 10. Angie Smith, 2,065.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 25 2017
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