In sports, there is an old adage that says, “It’s better to be lucky than good any day”.
Sunday, that phrase perfectly described Ron Capps’ day.
The 30-year-old top fuel dragster driver used a string of good luck and won his second race in a row in capturing the top fuel title, beating Mike Ranny, at the 33rd annual AHRA World Finals at Spokane Raceway Park.
“This is the greatest thing for this team,” Capps said. “They work their butts off.”
Capps’ first bit of luck came when he got into the eight-car field as an alternate after Junior Kaiser blew up an engine in qualifying Saturday night. Kaiser couldn’t get it fixed in time for eliminations and, Capps, the number nine qualifier was in the field.
In the first round, Capps beat number-two qualifier Craig Smith as Smith lost traction halfway down the track.
Then, in the semifinals, Capps found more luck as his opponent, Bobby Neal, blew the gas cap off his fuel tank as he was doing his burnout. This gave Capps a free run down the drag strip, turning the fastest elapsed time of the weekend at 5.34 seconds.
In the finals, Capps caught his last bit of luck. He turned in a sterling run while Ranny trailed by two car lengths from the start. But at the end of the race, the win light blinked in Ranny’s lane.
Something went wrong in the timing lights at the finish line. But, unlike earlier in the day when funny car driver Gary Densham was eliminated because of timing-light problems, AHRA officials declared Capps the winner minutes after the race, though no time was posted.
“We definitely hit some luck, especially just getting in the deal,” Capps said. “But we should have been in it in the first place. I guarantee you I ran a 5.20 in the finals.”
The funny car final looked extremely familiar to Spokane fans. For the second year in a row, John Force beat Tom Hoover, clocking a 5.50 to Hoover’s 5.66.
“It’s a good feeling,” four-time World Finals champion Force said. “It’s nice to go into Brainerd (Minn.) next weekend with a win under our belt.”
Force was the man to beat all day. In the first round, he beat Jack Wyatt, running a solid 5.69 at 265 mph.
Force then ran a 5.63 to dispose of Jim Epler in the semifinals.
“The lane was critical,” Force said. “But the air got better and the track kept getting better.”
In pro alcohol funny car, Mitch McDowell from Jerome, Idaho, took home the title. McDowell ran a 6.36 to beat John Knox in the finals.
Paula Gage won pro alcohol dragster, her third World Finals title. She ran a 6.26 in the finals as her opponent, George Johnson, died at the start.
No green for Densham
In the first round of funny car elimination, a timing mishap finished number two qualifer Gary Densham’s day.
Densham and opponent Chuck Beal pulled up to the starting line, and the starting tree began to light up. But Beal’s side showed the green light while Densham’s didn’t.
Beal took off and Densham waited until Beal reached the other end of the track before leaving.
According to Densham, AHRA officials admitted there was an error in the lights, but still declared Beal the winner.
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