After capturing victory No. 74 last month, Ron Capps was looking to etch his name in the Bandimere Speedway history books by clinching his milestone 75th NHRA triumph on Sunday at the final running of the NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colo. near Denver.
Surprisingly, the second-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history only had one prior Bandimere triumph to start the weekend. His sole Denver victory came from the 2009 event, but the three-time and twice-defending world champion knew he and his NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team would have the combination to make a solid run for the last Mile-High Nationals Funny Car trophy.
Capps started race day from the No. 5 position after recording the quickest E.T. in two out of four qualifying sessions to collect six bonus points. The four-time finalist in 2023 drew Terry Haddock as his first opponent on race day and used his starting line advantage coupled with a solid E.T. to outpace Haddock. Round two featured a match-up between the 2022 No. 1 and 2 ranked drivers with Capps lining up opposite Robert Hight. After defeating a tire-smoking Hight and securing a spot in the upcoming NHRA Northwest Nationals Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, Capps faced another heavy-hitter in the semifinals in Matt Hagan. The former teammates pulled up to the starting line ready to battle for their spot in the final round and while Capps posted a solid and quicker 4.057 E.T., Hagan’s near-psychic .008 reaction time allowed him to propel through the finish line beams first to claim the holeshot victory.
“What a bittersweet weekend. Obviously, everyone talked about wanting to take the last Bandimere Mile-High Nationals trophy but we’re leaving here with our heads very high. So proud of Guido (Dean Antonelli) and the NAPA team and again, the 200th Toyota win is still out there,” Capps said, referring to Toyota’s 199 NHRA wins. “I was hoping (finalists) Alexis (DeJoria) and Del (Worsham) would’ve got the win and they definitely deserve a win this year, but it’s still up for grabs so we’ll go to Seattle and keep rolling. Unfortunate loss in the semifinals today but like I told my guys, we’ve got a good race car, we’re always in the hunt. Nothing to hang our heads about. Onto Seattle.”
While he won’t leave Denver with the Mile-High Nationals hardware, Capps’ deep run through the Funny Car field allowed him to maintain his No. 2 ranking heading into the second stop on the three-race Western Swing. The NHRA tour reconvenes next weekend in Kent, Wash. near Seattle for the NHRA Northwest Nationals where Capps will look to add to his four wins at Pacific Raceways.