Capps, Brown, A. Johnson and Krawiec lead NHRA winners in Denver
Ron Capps raced to his fifth Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Capps beat Ashley Force Hood in the final round for his 30th career victory and first at the Denver dragstrip. With the win, Capps moved into a first place tie with Force Hood in the Funny Car point standings.
"I could hear her car over there," said Capps, who powered his NAPA Dodge Charger to a 4.187 second run at 297.22 mph to hold off Force Hood's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, which finished in 4.231 at 296.96. "Fortunately, out car got through the early part of the track and pulled away. I talked to 'Ace' (crew chief Ed McCulloch) during the off-week and he said, 'We're going to get the points lead back.' I've never heard him talk like that before."
It was Force Hood's sixth final round appearance of the season and the second final against Capps. He also beat her in the money round to win at Topeka.
"As a competitor in this class, you have to embrace the fact that Ashley is a big deal," Capps said. "Not only is she a big deal, but she has shouldered that more than anybody I've ever known. It reminds me of Shirley Muldowney who did it back when there were several barriers to be broken."
Antron Brown, Allen Johnson and Eddie Krawiec also were winners in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Brown increased his Top Fuel points lead to 116 over Larry Dixon with his third victory of the season. His Matco Tools dragster posted a 3.944 at 295.21 to defeat Doug Kalitta, whose Rocky Boots dragster suffered an engine explosion at the start which automatically deployed his parachutes.
"The monkey of winning from No. 1 is finally off our back," Brown said. "There was a lot of pressure on us this weekend. All these guys were cutting lights on me, and my crew chiefs had to stay on top of the weather that was changing constantly. This trophy is worthwhile because of the stout competition. You always want to win. That's what puts you in the record books and makes history. The championship is the big picture, but you're always upset after a semifinal or runner-up because you lost. Winning makes you heal from all those times that you lost before. This is my Robitussin."
Johnson earned his second Pro Stock win of the season and his second victory in three consecutive finals at this event (also 2007). He beat Jason Line in the final round with a quicker reaction time at the start. Johnson's J&J Racing/Team Mopar Dodge Stratus posted a 7.004 at 195.87 to just edge Line's quicker Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, which finished in 7.001 at 195.76. It was Johnson's seventh career victory.
"I love Denver," Johnson said. "We have a combination here that's really hard to beat. We test our butts off here so we can do well for Mopar. I think I had the most butterflies I've ever had in my life when I raced in the first round. By the time we got to the semis, I settled down and told myself, 'We've got the combination.' We really didn't make a good run in the final. In fact, we burned the clutch up pretty good, but to give it to my guys on the holeshot feels very good."
Jeg Coughlin, who advanced to the semis in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt, increased his Pro Stock points lead to 83 over Mike Edwards, who lost in the second round in his ART/Young Life GXP.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec extended his series points lead with his third victory of the season in his sixth consecutive final round appearance. He took the automatic win in the final round when his fellow Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Andrew Hines fouled at the start.
"We didn't have the best bikes every single round, but Andrew and I did our jobs as riders and got it done," Krawiec said. "I've been to six straight finals, which is something I've never dreamed of. To have two straight all-Harley finals is incredible, and I'm just so happy for our team. We broke a throttle cable in the semis at his race last year, and I really thought that was going to be my first win. I love Bandimere, and it was nice to win against Andrew in the final. We're teammates, but we're probably the two most competitive people in the pits. Whether we're walking or cutting the grass, we try to race each other doing it."
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues next weekend with the second stop on the Western Swing, the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals, July 17-19 at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.