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Ron Capps collects dramatic second career NHRA Funny Car championship

Ron Capps clinched his second NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, capping off a wild season of Funny Car competition.
14 Nov 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
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Ron Capps

Ron Capps watched nervously from behind the starting line at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as his teammate and championship rival staged for a semifinal race with Alexis DeJoria’s Del Worsham-tuned entry. Hagan had already beaten Capps in round tow and could steal the points lead from Capps and win his fourth championship if he won the event.

Less than four seconds later, the win light came on in DeJoria’s lane and Capps, the 2016 champion, became a two-time titlist in the NHRA Funny Car class.

“I can’t believe that just happened,” said a relived Capps. “I think the world of Del but you're going up there against Hagan. That whole team is incredible and I expected him to go win the race. I don't know what to say; I'm shaking right now. I stood in that grandstands as a kid and watched [Joe] Amato and [Gary] Ormsby lined up in the final round years ago and just to be down here doing this right now and have a second World Championship. I can't say enough, 'Thank you, Del. Dickie [Venables, Hagan crew chief], I'm sorry, Don Schumacher. Thanks, man.' ”

The race is the last for both Capps and Hagan as teammates on the Don Schumacher Racing juggernaut, and they waged war for 20 events, with the points lead repeatedly changing hands, including a record nine time among several drivers in midseason.

Capps didn’t take the points lead until the tour’s first trip to Auto Club Raceway when he won the Summer/Winternationals in his Dean Antonelli- and John Medlen-tuned NAPA Auto Parts Dodge, his first victory of the coming at the 10th event.

He’s been to final rounds at the Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and in Houston, but didn’t reach the winner’s circle until racing at his Pomona hometrack.    

After the breakthrough, Capps didn’t lose in the first round for the rest of the season and was runner-up at the U.S. Nationals and then cashed in a second time this season with a clutch victory at the Texas NHRA FallNationals.

He was then a semifinalist in Bristol and retook the points lead, then had a huge day at the year’s penultimate event in Las Vegas, where he was runner-up after his three closest points rivals – Hagan, John Force, and J.R. Todd – all lost in the opening round.

Capps came into the Finals with the points lead and managed to increase the edge with a strong qualifying effort to ultimately put it out of everyone’s reach.