Ron Capps won his 56th NHRA national event title on Sunday at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago, 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.
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 on the Fourth of July after a valiant three-month battle with brain cancer and was laid to rest Saturday in New Mexico.
“She loved drag racing so much,” Capps said.
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,” said Capps, whose crew chief Rahn Tobler won for the 60th time. “That’s our job, but I wouldn’t have been sad had Tommy beat us.
“A very emotional weekend. Bittersweet.”
Capps with the NAPA AutoCare Centers crew has built their championship lead with consistency and near flawless raceday preparation by Tobler and assistant Eric Lane instead of by setting track records.
At Route 66, their best qualifying effort could only muster a No. 9 seed for Sunday that gave lane choice to rookie Jonnie Lindberg in the first round when Capps recorded his best time of the time of the day to win. After his next opponent lost traction, Capps edged past Don Schumacher Racing teammates Matt Hagan, who is second in points, and then Johnson to earn the 55th NHRA Funny Car Wally Trophy of his career.
“It might have looked on the outside like maybe we were struggling, and I’m sure some of our opponents might have thought the same,” Capps said. “But as every Sunday goes with Rahn Tobler, he wakes up in the morning and he is a big-picture guy. He’s so much fun to race with, and he’s taught me a lot. I get up to drive that car and make him proud.”
Start / Finish: Qualified No. 9 / won in championship round over DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
Points Earned: 113
Points Standing / Total: 1st / 1,208 after 13 of 24 Mello Yello events
Next Race: July 21-23, NHRA Mile-High Nationals, Denver
How to Watch or Listen: Fox Sports 1; NHRA All Access
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), the winningest team in drag racing history, has raced to claimed more than 340 NHRA national event victories and 17 Mello Yello World Championship titles. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields professional teams competing in both the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and Factory Stock Showdown, including the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driven by 2016 World Champion Ron Capps.