Capps Beats Hagan in All-Mopar Funny Car Final at Brainerd; Gaines Earns Runner-Up in Pro Stock
Ron Capps scores the third-straight win for a Mopar-powered Funny Car driver, and the fifth in the last six races
Current Funny Car points leader and Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar driver Matt Hagan takes the runner-up spot in an all-Mopar final
Hagan, Capps and Mopar-powered driver Johnny Gray are now 1-2-3 in the NHRA Funny Car points standings
Capps and Gray lockdown berths in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs
V. Gaines runs to his second final round of the season in a runner-up showing
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger Pro Stock driver and defending champ Allen Johnson goes to quarterfinals
Mopar–powered Dodge Avenger Pro Stock drivers have now advanced to the final round in seven consecutive events
Brainerd, Minn. (Sunday, August 18, 2013) – Ron Capps continued a dominant winning streak by Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car racers, earning his third win of the season on Sunday at the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. The victory was also the third straight for a Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T driver, and fifth in the last six events. In NHRA Pro Stock, V. Gaines scored a runner-up finish, placing a Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger in the final round for the seventh consecutive event.
Capps, the No. 9 qualifier, defeated Del Worsham in the opening stanza to set up a second-round showdown with the top qualifier — teammate and fellow Mopar HEMI-powered Funny Car driver Jack Beckman. Capps was able to edge out the defending Funny Car champ with a winning 4.073-second elapsed time at 309.77 mph to Beckman’s 4.102/309.70. Capps knocked off Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals to arrange yet another battle with a Mopar-powered teammate and former Funny Car champ — Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan, who defeated another DSR Dodge team member, Johnny Gray, in the semifinals to earn a spot in the money round.
Capps was slower off the starting line but not at the finish, reeling in Hagan at about the 600-ft mark to earn the win with a 4.063/312.28 mark — and about a seven-inch margin of victory. Hagan, winner at the recent Seattle race, posted a 4.095/312.78 in his close runner-up effort. Capps, winner at the Sonoma event but unable to qualify in Seattle, also overcame an engine explosion in Saturday qualifying on the road to his 41st career win.
“That is the nature of our sport and for sure the Funny Car division,” said Capps. “It is a fun class but that final round just epitomizes how tight our category is right now. You have to be on your absolute best and I wasn’t today as a driver but Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] made up for it and man, wow, what a weekend.”
“Congratulations to Ron Capps from all of us at Mopar on his win at Brainerd International Raceway,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “It’s great to see the Mopar-powered Funny Car package competing so strongly and back in the winner’s circle for the eleventh time this year. Seeing all four Don Schumacher Racing teammates contending for wins and battling to defend the world championship title throughout this very competitive season has been exciting for all of us.”
With their performance at Brainerd, Capps and Gray joined Hagan in locking down spots in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, scheduled to begin in mid-September in Charlotte. Hagan, Capps and Gray are now in the top three spots in the Funny Car standings (Gray is tied with Cruz Pedregon), while Beckman is seventh.
In Pro Stock, V. Gaines earned his second runner-up spot in the last four events, taking his Mopar HEMI-powered Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger all the way to the final, where he lost to current points leader Mike Edwards. Gaines bested Steve Kent in the opening round, defeated Larry Morgan with a near-perfect .001 reaction time in the quarterfinals and then took out former Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson on a holeshot win, recording a .017 mark off the line with a 6.632/208.65 pass to Anderson’s .060 time and 6.604/209.46 run. The final, in which Gaines fell to Edwards, marked the seventh straight final round appearance by a Mopar-powered Pro Stock driver.
No. 1 qualifier Vincent Nobile, coming off wins at Sonoma and Seattle, came up short in his bid for three in a row. He defeated fellow Mopar racer Chris McGaha in the first round and Mike Martino in the quarterfinals before falling to Edwards in the semis. Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson also met the same fate as Gaines and Nobile — after trailering Rodger Brogdon with a 6.643/208.49 in round one, Johnson fell to Edwards in a second round battle of the top two in the standings. Johnson’s 6.622/208.62 wasn’t enough to overcome Edwards’ 6.619/208.26 pass. JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. also exited earlier than desired, losing to Mike Martino in the opening round.
Gaines clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship at Brainerd, putting four Mopar-powered Pro Stock racers in the six-race playoffs. Johnson, Coughlin and Nobile are currently second, third and fourth, respectively, in the Pro Standings, trailing only Edwards.