By Patrick Rall
This past weekend of NHRA drag racing started strong for the
Mopar teams as Ron Capps set an NHRA Funny Car class record for ET and speed –
and it ended just as well with a Charger versus Charger final round that
crowned Johnny Gray the class champion of the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA
After the four rounds of qualifying, Ron Capps held onto the
top spot with his record-setting 3.964 at 320.89 miles per hour while Johnny Gray
qualified 3rd, Matt Hagan qualified 5th and Jack Beckman
In the first round, all four of the Dodge Charger Funny Car
entries won as Matt Hagan took down Tony Pedregon’s Toyota Camry, Ron Capps
beat Bob Bode’s Chevrolet Impala, Johnny Gray beat Jim Head’s Toyota Solara and
Jack Beckman beat the DHL Toyota Camry driven by Jeff Arend. No Toyota products made it out of the first
round of the event that sported their company name.
In round two, Johnny Gray took down series legend John Force
in a race where Force pulled the early lead off of the starting line but
daughter Courtney Force knocked Mopar race Matt Hagan on what proved to be a
very, very close race. The other two
Dodge Charger funny cars, piloted by Ron Capps and Jack Beckman, were forced to
go head to head in a race where Capps grabbed the early lead and never looked
This set up a pair of final four shootouts between top
qualifier Ron Capps and Traxxas Mustang driver Courtney Force while Johnny Gray
went to battle with Auto Club Mustang driver Robert Hight. In the first race, Capps took the lead at the
starting line and narrowly beat the daughter of John Force. In the other pairing, Johnny Gray took the
holeshot lead over Robert Hight and although Hight ran a quicker time, the
starting line advantage gave the win to Grey.
In the finals, Ron Capps pulled the big holeshot over Johnny
Gray but just past the 60 foot mark, Capp’s record-setting Dodge Charger smoked
the tires and handed the easy win to Gray in the NTB Charger.
On the year, Ron Capps is second in the season points
standings (trailing leader Robert Hight by 157 points) while Johnny Gray’s win
moved him up to the 4th position – 299 points behind leader Hight.