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Ron Capps displayed a flair for the dramatic at the NHRA Finals in 2022 that culminated in a heart-grabbing final-round performance that we officially christen “ Moment of the Year .”
Capps entered the NHRA Finals trailing points leader Robert Hight by 60 marks , and after the first day of qualifying , his championship hopes appeared most certainly dashed . Capps struggled to get down the track and was on the bump spot heading into Saturday , but in the very last session , his Dean “ Guido ” Antonelli-tuned NAPA Toyota Supra made up for its previous misbehavior in spades . Capps clocked a 3.837-second pass at 337.33 mph , his best of the season , to claim the No . 1 qualifying position and a whole bunch of very helpful points .
The ladder would have lined Capps up with Hight in the semifinals , but Bob Tasca III upset Hight in the second round , and Capps had a clear view of what would be his second consecutive and third overall Funny Car championship . All he had to do was win the semifinals , then remain unscathed in the final round – win or lose – and he would bring home that big trophy .
After getting the nod in a great race with Tasca and taking over the points lead for the first time that season , the deal was nearly sealed up .
“ Guido wanted to run 3.81 in the final , and that would have been phenomenal ,” says Capps . “ The plan was to shut it off if anything went wrong – if we went down there and crossed the centerline , we would have lost a world championship .
“ It was very emotional to fire the car up , and I thought , I ’ m going to do a long burnout . So , I did , and I thought , how cool would it be to throw down that number , win the race , and have the championship . But I ’ ve driven a lot of cool cars in the world – and there is nothing on earth like a nitro Funny Car . It has a mind of its own , and it can make you look foolish .”
GOES ALL-OUT IN THE FINAL AT THE NHRA FINALS
Before the final , Capps was told that crossing the centerline would cost him points , but rubbing the guard wall would not . So , he had his plan of attack in mind , and he put it in motion shortly after taking a . 001-second advantage over Cruz Pedregon at the starting line . Soon after the 330-foot marker , Capps had his hands full .
“ The car kind of made a move , so I went over by the wall and I said , ‘ I ’ m going to go until I see sparks ,’” he recalls . “ I didn ’ t see Cruz … Didn ’ t see Cruz … And then I just saw him out of the corner of my eye at the finish line .”
Pedregon got there first by about five feet , winning the race on a 3.839 at 335.65 to a 3.850 , 333.16 – and Capps put on a terrific show while protecting the Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car title – his first as a team owner .
“ It could have been the dumbest thing ever , but I ’ m glad we raced the final round that way ,” says Capps . “ I think the fans deserved it .” – KELLY WADEDI
PHOTOS : NHRA
NOMINEES : GREG ANDERSON ’ S 100TH WIN AT THE NHRA U . S . NATIONALS / ANTRON BROWN WINS PRO 275 AT THE SNOWBIRD OUTLAW NATIONALS / BOB LOCKE WINS NHRA FINALS AND SUPER GAS CHAMPIONSHIP
January / February 2023 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 117