By Lee Elder
KENT, Wash (Aug. 5, 2018) – Ron Capps beat points leader Courtney Force to win the Funny Car trophy at the CatSpot Northwest NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
It was Capps’ 59th career Funny Car win and it gave Capps a little breathing room in the standings.
Antron Brown collected his first victory of 2018 in Top Fuel and Tanner Gray got his fourth Pro Stock win of the season.
“We (Don Schumacher Racing) didn’t want John Force Racing to sweep the Swing,” Capps said. “That was big for Dodge to beat the Chevy.”
Capps trailed Force about halfway down the 1,000-foot drag strip but he beat her to the finish with a 4.033-second elapsed time at 314.90 mph. Force finished with a 4.115-second time.
“There’s a reason why they’re number one right now,” Capps said. “She’s got a target on her back. … We’re trying to gain on them but you can’t do that when she’s in the final round next to us. We’ll keep chipping away at it.”
Force leads with, unofficially, 1,300 points. Capps is next with 1,146.
Brown’s reaction upon climbing out of his car after the final was of a man with a heavy weight removed from his back. He narrowly beat Leah Pritchett in the final. The margin of victory was just .004 of a second and Brown said he has missed winning.
“Lord knows I’ve missed it and God knows we’ve been struggling,” Brown said.
Brown’s 3.835-second run at 322.88 mph beat Pritchett’s 3.849 seconds and 320.13 mph.
Steve Torrence, who began the weekend with the point lead, continues to lead with 1,251 points. Tony Schumacher is next with 1,090. Clay Millican is third with 1,084 and Pritchett, with her runner up finish Sunday, is next with 1,083.
Gray collected his fourth win of 2018 and the ninth of his career beat defeating Deric Kramer when Kramer left early and fouled out of the Pro Stock final. Gray’s run was timed at 6.632 seconds and 210.05 mph.
“It was kind of a lucky win but I’ll take ‘em any way I can get ‘em,” Gray said.
Gray to a chunk out of Greg Anderson’s lead in the Pro Stock standings. Unofficially, Anderson leads Tanner, who is in second, by 42 points. Erica Enders is next with 1,082.
Only two events remain before the start of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoff system. The top 10 drivers in the standings after the US Nationals over Labor Day Weekend advance to the Countdown.
In Top Fuel, no driver that began eliminations in 11th place or further back advanced beyond the first round. Richie Crampton remains 10th with 660 points, Mike Salinas is 11th with 619.
In Funny Car, there was heartbreak for Tim Wilkerson. The veteran passed Bob Tasca III for 10th place by advancing to the semifinals. But the Wilkerson car leaked oil during its burnout, Wilkerson could not make the run and, because the safety crews had to clean oil off the starting area, Wilkerson was penalized 15 points and was dropped back behind Tasca in the standings. Every driver behind Wilkerson in the standings that qualified for Sunday’s eliminations was bounced out of the race in the first round.
In Pro Stock, Kramer started eliminations in 10th place, narrowly clinging to the last berth in the playoffs. By advancing to the final round, Kramer jumped all the way to seventh place in the standings. Bo Butner dropped to 10th place but he has a significant advantage over Alex Laughlin in 11th place.
NOTES: Ron Smith’s Top Fuel car’s parachutes deployed before the car even started for its first round match against Steve Torrence. The team was unable to get the car ready to make the run.