Just four points separates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship with just a single round left to go after Capps took victory at The Strip, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Capps 38th career victory was one of his most important, charging his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge down the strip in 4.070 seconds to beat home the Championship leader.
Earlier in the day he defeated Tony Pedregon, top qualifier Cruz Pedregon and Johnny Gray, but it was the final that had Capps sweating. He admitted the weekend was tough and it was through consistent improvement that got him through to the final.
To get to the final, Beckman single-handedly wiped out most of Team Force – starting with John Force in the first round, Valvoline-supported Beckman tossed Castrol-backed Force, the second round it was Force’s team driver, Mike Neff and in the semi-final he advanced through to the final by virtue of Courtney Force red-lighting.
With four points separating the pair, it is all to play for at the Grand Final round at Pomona between November 8-11. Mathematically, Neff isn’t out of the running either being just 88 points off the mark, however it would require a big effort and early exits for both Beckman and Capps to bring the Championship back to John Force Racing.
Bob Vandergriff Jr. took his second career win by beating home seven times NHRA Champion, Tony Schumacher. Schumacher’s runner up position has aided his faint Championship hope going into Pomona. He now sits 65 points behind Antron Brown.
Brown was the big shock of the event, being upstaged by last event winner, Khalid alBalooshi in the very first round when the Matco Tools dragster’s engine let go midway through the first round matchup. It had been a difficult weekend for Brown, qualifying just 13th out of the 16 car field. Adding to the Championship interest, Vandergriff got past third placed Spencer Massey in the second round.
Australian team, Rapisarda Racing qualified for the event with Cory McClenathan. He entered the race 14th fastest but was eliminated in the first round by Doug Kalitta.
Vandergriff Jr. was ecstatic with his win and struggled to believe it had been a year since his first win.
“It’s been a year since my last win, and we certainly didn’t think it would take that long to win again,” said Vandergriff Jr. “Everybody said this next one comes easy. Well, I think they’re full of it because they don’t come easy. We had a great car all weekend. It ran good. We made four great runs today. First round was a little tough. It got hot out there, but other than that, our car was pretty flawless.”
PRO STOCK CAR
Allen Johnson marched to his sixth win of the season, defeating Vincent Nobile and opening up his points lead to 126 points over Jason Line.
Erica Enders, who has had the best season of her career, was defeated in the second round by Nobile. This eliminated her not only from the event, but Championship contention. Nobile got past another Championship aspirant in Line in the semi-final when Line red-lighted.
Greg Anderson was a shock early round loser, going down to Jeg Coughlin.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Eddie Kraewic’s lead in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship is virtually unassailable after he took victory over Matt Smith aboard his Harley-Davidson.
Second placed man in the Championship, Andrew Hines bowed out in the second round, allowing Kraewic to open up his Championship lead to 111 points. Kraewic eliminated GT Tonglet, S Pollachek and John Hall in his advance to the race off against Smith.
The next round in two weekends time will see one of the closest NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series seasons come to a conclusion at The Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California. It will also represent the conclusion of energy drink, Full Throttle’s naming rights partnership of the Series, with Mello Yello assuming the rights from 2013.