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Keeping Pace

Sun., May 31, 2009, 11:30 p.m.


 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Ron Capps powered his NAPA Dodge-powered NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car victory on Sunday in Topeka, Kan. and moved into the top-5 in the chase for a 2009 championship.

TOPEKA, Kan. – Ron Capps continued his dominance over the Funny Car field with his win at the 21st annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Larry Dixon and Allen Johnson also visited winner’s circle after dominating their respective classes at the race that marks the halfway point of the regular season for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series.

Capps showed why he’s the car to beat this season in Funny Car, driving his NAPA Dodge Charger R/T to a 4.265-second run at 286.07 mph; enough to push the driver past runner-up and No. 1 qualifier Ashley Force Hood and give Capps his third win of the season.

“When they said we won, it was such a great feeling. Ed McCulloch fought the conditions today and all weekend long. We dropped cylinders all weekend, and we got put in that lane that was considered not as good as the left lane, and we won two rounds in that right lane. To have conditions with a 125-degree track temperature and have a two-lane dragstrip with both lanes getting wins was a phenomenal job by Heartland Park Topeka and the NHRA Safety Safari.”

            The win helped strengthen Capps’ lead over second-place Del Worsham in the point standings.

Larry Dixon was dominate over the Top Fuel class the entire day and picked up his second win of the season with a 3.971 run at 301.74 in the final round. The run in his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster was just enough to push Dixon past Clay Millican, who was making his first final round appearance in over five years.

“I’ve had worse weekends [than Bristol], but it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to say that I’m not where I want to be driving the car, and I think it peaked out last week,” said Dixon. “Alan [Johnson, team owner] took his crew chief hat off and put his coach hat on and worked on me and getting me right. We went and ran the car at Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday after Bristol and just made a whole bunch of runs. That was just nice, hitting the throttle and getting runs. They learned a lot from that test, and I learned a lot from that test. I was very excited and there wasn’t anything apprehensive about coming to this event. I just wanted to come here and get the gloves on and get in the game.”

The win pushed Dixon from sixth into the fourth spot, just 141 points behind first-place driver and defending world champion Tony Schumacher.

            In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson grabbed his first win in almost three years, driving his Team Mopar / J&J Racing Dodge Stratus to a holeshot win at 6.726 at 204.94 over Mike Edwards.

“I told the media at the end of the track that I felt like we should have won 10 races the last year and a half, and this is the first one,” said Johnson. “We’ve had the car, and I just haven’t done my job very good the last year or so. I knew a win would come, but I’ve been very, very frustrated with myself, to be honest. I hadn’t done my job really well for the last year, but I’ve really been working on it. I feel like I’ve got my mojo back, and we’re going to do well the rest of the year.”

            The runner-up finish for Edwards closed the gap between he and current points leader and defending world champion Jeg Coughlin to just 75 points

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.