On a day where the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Cars teams were in control throughout, it only made sense that its most dominant driver these days had the final say.
Racing in his sixth straight Funny Car finals, Ron Capps won for the second time in 2012, taking out the Cinderella story of the weekend in Alexis DeJoria with a 4.076 at 312.35 miles per hour in the finals of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Capps admitted the headlines of possibly advancing to a sixth straight final were draining, but it hardly showed on a day where he was in the 4.00s three times during eliminations.
“There’s a lot of pressure coming in with people asking if I’m going to get six straight finals, but every race we’ve gone to, the bond is just getting stronger and stronger with (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and this team,” said Capps, who won for the 35th time in his career. “Don Schumacher does everything to give us what we need and it’s impressive to see what Rahn Tobler has done with this car.
“He’s such a perfectionist. It’s great communication we have and it was a great weekend all-around. We gained a lot of points and it’s not out of the question for us to catch Robert (Hight). That’s the carrot out in front of us.”
The other carrot was not wanting to be the driver DeJoria beat in the finals for her first NHRA win.
That didn’t happen when DeJoria smoked the tires early in their head-to-head meeting, though DeJoria, the No. 15 qualifier still had quite a weekend to remember.
After only one round win in her first 13 races, DeJoria racked up three on Sunday, including a victories against Mike Neff, teammate Jeff Arend and Capps’ teammate Jack Beckman in the semifinals.
Capps, though, was all business in the finals, putting together a run that was only topped by the 4.06 he put together in a first-round win against Courtney Force.
Still, it was an exhausting day for Capps.
“You see what Alexis did all day, you’re thinking, ‘Oh man, this is another one of those stories where they’re going to get the win and you’re be another stat and the guy that gave Alexis her first win.’ I was just trying to block everything out and dig deep. I was just exhausted,” Capps said.
Part of that was the mental toll of the day and part of that was entering the race with a heavy heart after the father of a close friend passed away earlier in the way.
But Capps was plenty composed when he had to be, knocking off Force to kick off a dominant day for DSR Racing. It went 4-for-4 in the opening round and was also a major reason why John Force Racing was finished early after an 0-for-4 performance in the first round on Sunday.
“It’s a big hit for us to beat a Ford with a Dodge and the Charger body we have,” Capps said. “When we can beat those Ford bodies, it’s a real pump in the arm.”
Capps followed with a narrow victory against Tony Pedregon in the quarterfinals, running him down with a 4.10 after Pedregon had a great reaction time.
In the semifinals – which featured three DSR cars – Capps knocked off teammate Johnny Gray with a 4.093 at 305.63 mph before another consistent pass in the finals to keep his incredible stretch going.
“You have such a good car, you’re hoping nothing goes wrong and you’re not the one that goes wrong,” Capps said. “When we put this team together, I wanted to add to the team. It was already a great team, and I wanted to add to it and make my crew chief proud. This team is pretty stout.”
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