Ron Capps and the other funny car drivers from Don Schumacher Racing have had a tough season compared to the previous two years. The field had run 15 races prior to this weekend’s stop at Pacific Raceway, during which time DSR Chargers had only won five and Capps had only won once. For comparison, in 2017 Capps won 6 of the first 15 races while Don Schumacher Racing had claimed “The Wally” in 12 of those 15 races. In 2016, Capps won 4 of the first 15 events while DSR teammates had claimed another 4, so with the Mopar teams “only” winning a fifth of the first 15 races of the season and Capps only winning once – it has not been the kind of year that these teams and their fans are accustomed to.
The first round of qualifying for the CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals had mixed results for Don Schumacher Racing. After Toyota driver Jonnie Lindberg was the only driver in the field to break into the 3s, Matt Hagan grabbed the second spot with a 4.008 and Tommy Johnson Jr was fifth with a time of 4.027, while Jack Beckman and Ron Capps had junk runs in the first pass.
In the second round, 7 more drivers broke into the 3-second range, with Hagan grabbing the top spot with a time of 3.913. Johnson grabbed the seventh spot with a time of 3.977 and while he didn’t run in the 3s, Ron Capps moved up to the ninth spot with a time of 4.018. Those three drivers wouldn’t improve in the third round, but Beckman finally got on the board with a 4.083 putting him in 13th spot, followed by a 4.028 in the final round of qualifying, moving him into 11th.
Meanwhile, the Camaro funny cars of John Force Racing took the second, third and tenth spots while the Ford Mustangs of Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson qualified fourth and fifth.
In the first round of eliminations, Matt Hagan beat Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps beat Jonnie Lindberg, Tommy Johnson Jr beat John Force, Courtney Force beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight beat Gary Densham and Shawn Langdon beat Jack Beckman – so 3 of the 4 Don Schumacher cars advanced to round 2 along with 2 of the 3 John Force cars.
In the second round, Capps took on Hagan in a battle of teammates and championship contenders, with Capps winning a great side-by-side drag race. Keep in mind that Hagan is driving the new Hellcat-based Charger funny car body while Capps has the "old" R/T-based body. Tommy Johnson Jr beat Robert Hight when the Camaro ran into troubles a few seconds into the run, but Courtney Force was able to drive her Camaro to victory against Langdon in the Toyota. Also, Tim Wilkerson drove his Mustang into the third round by beating J.R. Todd.
In the semifinals, Ron Capps took on Tim Wilkerson and Tommy Johnson Jr took on Courtney Force. In the Dodge-Ford battle, Capps got the easy win when Wilkerson sprang a massive oil leak, but in the Dodge-Chevy battle, Courtney Force had to overcome a starting line disadvantage to beat Tommy Johnson Jr.
That set up the third-straight Dodge-vs-Chevy funny car final and Ron Capps has been in all of them. He lost to John Force two weeks back and he lost to Robert Hight last week, so Courtney was looking to make it a three-peat.
When Force pulled a slightly better reaction time (.078 to .084), she was in good shape early, but engine troubles on the top end allowed the Dodge Charger R/T to jump ahead of the Camaro for the win. This was Ron Capps’ 60th event win in 117 final-round runs, so he is averaging a little better than 52% in the final round over his long, successful career. You can watch the race in the video below.
On the year, Courtney Force leads the race for the title with 1,300 points with Ron Capps sitting second, 154 points back. Robert Hight of John Force Racing is third, 215 points out off first while DSR teammates Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman are fourth and fifth, 236 and 301 points out of the lead.
For those wondering about the other drivers from John Force Racing and Don Schumacher Racing, Tommy Johnson Jr is seventh (-408) and John Force is eighth (-476), so right now, all of the JFR and DSR drivers are in position to quality for the final 6-race shootout to the championship.