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A new champion for Dodge

by Bill Cawthon on

Ron Capps clinched the 2016 NHRA Funny Car Championship today at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California. This is the fourth Dodge-powered championship in the last six seasons.


When NHRA President Peter Clifford called him the champion, Capps siad, “I’ve been waiting a long time to hear those words. I can’t even tell you, man. I’ve been trying to do this for so long, and I almost gave up on that fact and said, ‘I’m just going to keep trying to win races,’ but this is for the fans.”

To watch the moment, and the pass than made it possible, click here.

This is Capps’ first championship. Since moving from Top Fuel to Funny Car in 1997, he has been in contention for the title in four previous seasons, including a heartbreaking 2-point loss to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in 2012.

Capps, who led in the points standings for most of the season, came into the qualifying sessions 86 points ahead of Matt Hagan, his sole remaining rival for the title. He knew he could close the deal before Sunday’s elimination if he could remain at least 81 points ahead of Hagan during qualifying.

Capps started off as top qualifier in Friday’s opening session but dropped to third, in the second round. That still put him another four points ahead of Hagan, who was in the cellar after smoking the tires in the first heat and qualified fifth in Round Two.

After today’s third round, Capps was down another spot, qualifying fourth, but Hagan was back in the No. 7 spot. In the final round, Capps ran against Hagan for the second time in the Finals and posted an ET of 3.890 seconds at 323.66 miles per hour to Hagan’s 3.906 at 329.83 mph. Even though he qualified in the No. 5 spot again, Capps’ lower ET gave him the championship with a 90-point cushion.

Jack Beckman was the top qualifier, having set both ends of the track record with a career low ET and the second quickest pass in Funny Car history.

Eliminations get underway in the last event of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello season on Sunday.

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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