Ron Capps raced to his first victory of the season Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway and ended John Force Racing’s season-long stronghold on the winner’s circle in Funny Car.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Kraweic (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Capps, who used a consistent string of 4.16-second runs to take his 34th career victory, outran Robert Hight in the final round, who was trying to give JFR its seventh consecutive win of the season. Capps’ Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger posted a 4.166 second run at 303.91 mph to take the win, while Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang trailed with a 4.399 at 273.44.
"We love those guys," Capps said of Hight and his team. "[Crew chief Rahn] Tobler and Prock went to dinner here not too long ago. They’re good friends, and Robert and I are good friends. We had dinner last night and watch the UFC fight. I told them at the other end, ‘You guys bring everything I got out when I have to race you.’ I got so tired of hearing about Force [Racing] winning every race. I got tired hearing about Robert. I love him but I got tired of hearing about him on this race streak. I tweeted when they gave Will Power the first quarter Driver of the Year thing. That’s a pretty stout group of guys voting for that thing — I mean it’s Mario Andretti, ‘Snake’ [Don Prudhomme] — and it irritated me that they didn’t give him that, but I told him, ‘I’m tired of hearing about you winning.’ I know Tobler’s the same way. We go up there, and it brings everything we’ve got to race those guys, so to beat them was huge."
Capps also beat Daniel Wilkerson, Matt Hagan and Jeff Arend to advance to the final, the 73rd of his career. It is the third-straight final round appearance for Capps since Tobler joined his team.
“This is such a great team, and right from the get-go in Charlotte, the first run reminded me how fun it can be to race again,” “I was starting to just get a little frustrated and wondered if maybe I wasn’t as good as I used to be when I was younger. It just got very difficult. When Don [Schumacher, team owner] made the move and put me with Rahn [Tobler] and John Collins, I’m telling you it was just unbelievable. I’m having so much fun right now. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be driving this car.”
Torrence earned his first career Top Fuel victory and in the process denied Tony Schumacher from finally getting a victory at Atlanta Dragway, the only track on the circuit where the seven-time world champ has yet to win. Torrence covered the distance in 3.893 at 320.66 in his Capco Contractors dragster while Schumacher’s U.S. Army dragster lost traction early in the race and finished in 4.913 at 169.44.
Torrence, who qualified second, used a bunch of 3.8-second runs to cruise through eliminations, knocking off J.R. Todd, Bob Vandergriff and Brandon Bernstein along the way to his first career final.
“It hasn’t really even set in,” said Torrence, the 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster national champ in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series. “We’ve been working our tails off since last year at this race. This was the last race that I raced with Dexter [Tuttle] and we set out to start our own team. To kind of start the new team and get the first win here, that’s a big deal for us. We’re 10 races into this new team. Richard Hogan [crew chief], I’ve got all the confidence in the world in that guy. I told him from day one that he’s my guy, and I’ve stuck with it. This car has run really, really well. My driving, I’ve been practicing, and the seat time of just making passes in a good car has really helped me a lot. Getting this first win, it’s unbelievable. To do it here at Atlanta is awesome. This is a great racetrack. It just hasn’t caught up to me yet. Hopefully, this is the start of a lot of really good things.”
Anderson raced to his third Pro Stock win of the season with a reaction time advantage, holding off hard-charging teammate Jason Line at the finish line. Anderson took his 73rd career victory with a performance of 6.649 at 208.26 in his Summit Racing Pontiac to hold off the quicker, but losing Summit Racing Pontiac of Line, which finished in 6.618 at 209.62.
“We’re very happy as a team [about the Summit cars reaching five Pro Stock finals this year],” said Anderson, who beat Greg Stanfield, Steve Kent and Allen Johnson in earlier rounds. “It’s great to have three Summit cars in the semis. That doesn’t happen too often with multi-car teams. It just tells you that everybody is rowing the boat in the same direction and pulling their load. That’s what I’m the most proud of – assembling this team and instilling in them that it doesn’t matter which driver wins.
“It all goes back to what Ken Black does for this team. We just want to dig harder and harder every day because that’s what he is doing, going to rehab and trying to get back to walking, and he’s darn close. When you see that, you don’t want to let the man down. You want to make him proud. And when he gets back to the race track full-time, we want our cars to be running at their best.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champ Krawiec took his second victory of the season, outrunning first-time finalist Michael Ray. Krawiec powered his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a winning run of 6.905 at 195.53 to hold off Ray’s GottSpeed Racing Buell, which finished in 7.036 at 187.94.
Krawiec advanced to the final with early round wins over Michael Phillips, Karen Stoffer and Shawn Gann. It was Krawiec’s 13th career victory and second at Atlanta Dragway.
“We are just trying to get a handle on the motorcycle and working on getting it to leave well, and I think we did that this weekend,” Krawiec said. “It ran awesome and I’ve got a killer motorcycle right now.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues May 18-20 with the Dollar General NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kan.