Through the first two rounds of qualifying for the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Funny Car championship contender Ron Capps wasn’t qualified for the event. In round three, he squeaked in at No. 15 in the 16-car field. In the final round of qualifying on Saturday, he shot straight to No. 1 with a track-record run and now trails his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman by just two points going into Sunday’s eliminations.
Capps’ record time of 4.007 seconds (319.29 mph) put him at No. 1, while Beckman, who was No. 1 after two rounds, fell to No. 3 behind Cruz Pedregon; Capps faces Tony Pedregon in the first round, while Beckman will be up against Alexis DeJoria. Courtney Force and Jim Head round out the top five.
“I think I aged another 10 years these last couple of hours,” said Capps. “I felt like we were losing the grip on what our plan was. We had such a great plan on Thursday. We were going to make those points up and either be tied or go ahead of him and we failed miserably at that. So this (No. 1) is a confidence builder.”
Beckman may have aged some as well following the first round of qualifying, as an engine explosion at the end of his run blew the fiberglass body off his Funny Car. “I’ve never had that happen before and I’m not going to sign up for it again,” said Beckman, who was unhurt in the incident. “I had just let go of the wheel to reach for the parachute and all of a sudden there was no body on the car.”
Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown will go from the No. 10 spot on Sunday, facing his DSR teammate and fellow title contender Spencer Massey in the first round of eliminations. Shawn Langdon qualified No. 1 with a fast pass of 3.730 seconds (327.82 mph) and faces Cory McClenathan in the first round. Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, title contender Tony Schumacher and Khalid alBalooshi round out the top five.
“Alan (Johnson) and them are always looking for the big numbers,” said Langdon of his Al-Anabi Racing team manager. “They said before the run that it had to go 72 or 73. I knew from the time I stepped on the throttle it was going to be fast.”
Jason Line took the No. 1 in Pro Stock, where Allen Johnson has already been named champion for 2012. Line’s track-record run of 6.517 seconds (212.69 mph) bested Johnson for the top spot. Greg Anderson, V. Gaines and Erica Enders round out the top five.
Andrew Hines took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his own track-record run of 6.809 seconds (196.53 mph), topping Ed Krawiec, who took enough qualifying points to defend his 2011 PSM title. Scotty Pollacheck, Matt Smith and Hector Arana Jr. complete the top five.
Eliminations for the Auto Club NHRA Finals begin at 11 a.m. ET Sunday. Follow the action at www.nhra.com and on the NHRA Twitter page.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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