JOLIET, Ill. (July 9, 2017) - Ron Capps won his 56th NHRA national event title on Sunday and it likely was the most difficult for him to celebrate.
The driver of the NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil posted a career-best sixth title of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in only 13 races and extended his championship points lead to 186 points.
But to collect the NHRA Wally Trophy, he had to beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. driving the Make-A-Wish Dodge that is funded by the late Terry Chandler, who died after a valiant three-month battle with brain cancer on the Fourth of July and laid to rest Saturday in New Mexico.
Terry, who was 65, also funded the DSR Funny Car driven by Jack Beckman.
"She loved drag racing so much," said Capps, whose crew chief Rahn Tobler won for the 60th time.
"But we obviously didn't know how much. (DSR owner Don Schumacher) went to the service and the funeral on Saturday and came back and said, this was her life and how much she looked forward to coming to the drag races and making (Make-A-Wish) kids smile. Don could not believe how much all of her friends said that's all she talked about when she was back home."
In the final round, Capps' 4.026-second run at 319.67 mph edged Johnson's 4.047 at 319.90.
"My job is to win and that's what our NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge was able to do," Capps said. "That's our job, but I wouldn't have been sad had Tommy beat us.
"You already knew how much she was loved, but people that had never met her before wanted to give their respects.
"Before we started the car I saw her standing outside my car because I guess you just get so used to her being there. I had to shake my head for a second. You 're not used to her not being here. Then I did the burnout and I'm like 'oh my gosh, there's her car next to me' and it just was a strange race.
"A very emotional weekend. Bittersweet. I'm glad we can give Don the trophy to do give to her family."
DSR FUNNY CARS
Event winner: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Robert Hight (3.851 sec., 334.73 mph-track records)
RON CAPPS, NAPA INTREPID FALLEN HEROES FUND 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
SUNDAY'S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: CAPPS (4.005 sec., 320.89 mph) def. Jonnie Lindberg (4.072, 321.19)
Second round: CAPPS (4.119, 309.98) def. Jim Campbell (4.432, 204.60)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.038, 318.84) def. Matt Hagan (4.088, 313.58)
Final: CAPPS (4.026, 319.67) def. Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.047, 319.90)
Qualified: No. 9
FRIDAY: 3.984 sec., 321.27 mph, (Session 1); 3.942, 292.08, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.948 154,97, (Session 3); 4.074, 253.80, (Session 4)
CHICAGO BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (June 15), Norwalk, Ohio: Qualified No. 13, lost in second round to Tommy Johnson Jr.
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 4, lost in championship round to Jack Beckman
Career at Chicago: Wins 2 (2005, 2017); Runner-ups 2 (2016, 2007, 2002); Poles 1 (2013)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Joliet, Ill.; 13th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1 RON CAPPS (6) 1,208 -----
2 MATT HAGAN (3) 1,022 -186
3 JACK BECKMAN (2) 914 -294
4 Robert Hight 853 -355
5 TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 833 -375
6 Courtney Force 749 -459
7 John Force (1) 718 -490
8 Tim Wilkerson 599 -609
9 J.R. Todd 559 -649
10 Cruz Pedregon 463 -745