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Capps clinches Countdown berth

by Bill Cawthon on

Ron Capps made it to the Funny Car finals at today’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals, but came up 12 feet short in his matchup with John Force, who has now won two of the three Western Swing events.

Capps is still looking for his 50th Wally. He has made it to the finals seven times this season, coming away with the win four times. Both figures are best-in-class.


Capps, who remains the points leader, became the first Funny Car driver to clinch a spot in the six-event Countdown to the Championship. Courtney Force, who made it to the semifinals, became the second. Jack Beckman, the only other Funny Car driver to accumulate more than 1,000 points, should be next. He remains in third place following his loss to Del Worsham in the quarterfinals.

Matt Hagan fell to Capps in the quarterfinals and dropped from fourth in the point standings to a tie with Robert Hight for sixth place. He is one point behind John Force for fifth. Hagan did set a new track speed record of 330.15 mph during the second round of qualifying on Friday.

John Force’s win and the shifts that followed dropped Tommy Johnson Jr. from seventh to eighth.

With three events left in the regular season, all four Don Schumacher drivers look to be in good shape for the Countdown. Dodge still has the lead in the trophy count with eight.

Allen Johnson remains the top Dodge driver in the Pro Stock standings. Johnson shut down Aaron Strong in the third race of the day and was the only Dart driver to advance beyond the first round. In the quarterfinals, Johnson had a strong start in his race against Shane Gray but developed severe tire shake and had to push in the clutch.

Johnson remains fourth in the Pro Stock points competition where he trails Bo Butner. Butner widened the gap a bit by making it to the finals where he lost to Greg Anderson. Anderson took the lead in the driver standings: he leads Jason Line by four points.

Jeg Coughlin is the only other Dodge driver in the top ten he is still in ninth place following a first-round loss to former Dodge driver Chris McGaha.

Erica Enders is still just outside the top ten. She has three events to overtake Alex Laughlin for the No. 10 spot and a chance for a third championship.

Leah Pritchett, who has one Top Fuel Wally to her credit this season, lost to Tony Schumacher in the first race of the opening round. Pritchett got the better start but Schumacher had made up the difference by the time they passed the Christmas tree.

Pritchett is still in the chase for a Countdown berth; she is in tenth place.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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