Ron Capps completed a miraculous last-race comeback to win his third NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car world championship, becoming the first driver in 20 years to win the title back to back. As hard as it is to believe, Capps -- who famously lost the 2012 season championship by two points to Jack Beckman -- never led the points until the final day of the season, and he finished ahead of Robert Hight by just three points, 2,682 to 2,679.
Capps entered the final race of the season trialing Hight by more than 60 points but, thanks to a stunning last-pass dash in qualifying that earned him the No. 1 spot, his fate was brought back into his own hands with an expected clash with Hight in the semifinals.
That titanic battle never took place as Bob Tasca III upset Hight in the second round and, after beating Tim Wilkerson in round two, Capps took the points lead – incredibly for the first time this season -– by defeating Tasca in the semifinals.
That win put him mathematically in the lead by three points over Hight, but with the specter to a possible five-point penalty for crossing the centerline or hitting the guardwall in the final round a small but distinct possibility, Capps’ coronation had to wait until he safely kept it between the lines in his final-round race with Cruz Pedregon, which he lost to set the final margin.
"We talked about that run and how I should probably shut it off and not risk losing the points and losing the championship," he said. "When you step on the gas in one of these cars it could go wherever. I mean, it's scary. So that fed into 'What are you gonna do? Are you gonna shut it off? Are you gonna run it down there?' In the end, I made my longest burnout ever for the fans and just kept it close to the wall.'
The season was a huge success for Capps, who took over ownership of the team himself this year, and crew chiefs Dean Antonelli and John Medlen. In addition to his heroics at the Finals, Capps also collected wins in Las Vegas, Bristol, Indy, Charlotte, and Dallas. His win at Indy was his first ever at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, the biggest and most prestigious event in the sport.
"The Countdown was crazy," he added. "If you think about the Funny Cars that had a chance. I feel so bad for Robert Hight. He's such a great champion, For that whole team to win eight races and not win a championship is crazy. So it just tells you the amount of competition
"This hasn't even sunk in yet. It just blows my mind, Nobody knew if I was gonna go half the year and forget how to do things and for my sponsors to stick on board with us and just the year, it has been phenomenal. I kept leaning on 'Guido' [Antonelli] and to win five races was crazy as a new team owner. I told 'Guido 'before the final round, 'It's crazy. We both grew up crew guys and were going to win a world championship together our first year."
In addition to his five wins, Capps also collected three runner-ups and six No. 1 qualifying berths.