The 2016 Funny Car world champion Ron Capps used a thundering 4.033 at 314.90 in his Dodge/Mopar® Pennzoil Synthetics / NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T to claim his milestone 60th career victory at the NHRA Northwest Nationals. His opponent in the next lane during the finals was current points leader Courtney Force, but when Capps’ win light came on in his lane, it dashed all hopes of John Force Racing sweeping the Western Swing. This was also Capps’ second consecutive final appearance, and it secured his second win of the season and fourth victory at Pacific Raceways.
“There’s a lot of good solid competition out there,” Capps said. “The main thing going through my head was to not let John Force sweep the swing in Funny Car, so we put a stop to that. This was Rahn Tobler (crew chief) and I’s 24th event victory together since 2012, which is just crazy, and I think we’re going to have a lot of success the rest of the season.”
Capps qualified ninth and took down Jonnie Lindberg, teammate Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson on his path to his fifth final round this season. Feeling a bit nostalgic after his victory on Sunday, Capps reflected back on the start of his illustrious racing career.
“I won here in 1995. It was on a Tuesday. I was in an unsponsored car, I borrowed money for a firesuit, and Pennzoil was on my suit, my mom sewed it on. That was a big moment,” said Capps. “I’ve been here many times and have been able to win in Funny Car, but that was a fateful day. From what (former team owner) Don Prudhomme told me, that was the day he started watching me on the track, how I drove, the way I carried myself. That day probably propelled me to the next step of getting a phone call from Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, and from there, led me to be able to drive for Don Schumacher. I’ve driven for two of the biggest names in the sport, represented three Fortune 500 companies in my 20-plus-year career. I love racing cars, I live for it, so it’s neat to come full circle and stage the car in that same lane where I won on that Tuesday.”
Fellow Dodge/Mopar Funny Car teammate, Matt Hagan, captured the first No. 1 qualifier spot in the new Mopar Charger SRT® Hellcat, while Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a semifinal finish.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett raced to her second final round appearance on the Western Swing and was runner-up at Pacific Raceways. Starting from the No. 6 Top Fuel qualifier spot, she beat Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations with her Mopar Dodge dragster on a holeshot win. She faced No. 3 qualifier Clay Millican in the quarterfinals. They had near identical reaction times, but Pritchett took her tenth victory against Millican. She then faced Mike Salinas, who had starting line advantage in the semifinals. Pritchett had a strong pass until right in the lights when it let go with a quick flash of flames, but held onto the win to face DSR teammate Antron Brown for her 12th final round.
Mopar Sportsman racers also went rounds at the NHRA Northwest Nationals as Bill Bushmaker from Auburn, Washington, drove his I/SA 1976 Plymouth Road Runner to the quarterfinals in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA Northwest Nationals. Powered by a Mopar 360 small block, Bushmaker’s quest for a victory ended in round four of eliminators despite having a great reaction time against his opponent. Running off an 11.41 dial-in, Bushmaker lost by a mere 0.0062 seconds (approximately 12 inches) at the finish line.
In Super Stock, Alberta, Canada, resident Darcy Clarke piloted his 1964 SS/EA Plymouth Belvedere to a round three finish in Super Stock at the NHRA Northwest Nationals. Powered by a high-compression 426 Max Wedge Mopar big-block, Clarke had qualified his potent Plymouth in the 16th spot out of 30 entries with a stout 9.74-second run on a 10.35 index.
Both drivers received a check for $500 for being the Dodge Top Finishers at the NHRA Northwest Nationals.
The next race for the Mopar/Dodge DSR Top Fuel and Funny Car teams will be the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota, the weekend of August 16-19.