Capps ties Force Hood for points lead

Updated: July 13, 2009, 12:33 AM ET
Associated Press

MORRISON, Colo. -- Sometimes, Ron Capps has to play the villain, a role he doesn't particularly relish.

A very pro-Ashley Force Hood fan base shows up at the track, wearing her merchandise, and Capps sends them home unhappy.

Capps beat Force Hood in the finals of the Funny Car race Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, leaping into a tie with her at the top of the overall points standings.

Sorry, nothing personal. It's just drag racing.

"You have to embrace the fact she's a big deal," said Capps, who captured his fifth victory this season. "But I hate to lose to her."

Antron Brown picked up his third Top Fuel win of the season, Allen Johnson won in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec sped away with a victory in Pro Stock Motorcycles.

For Force Hood, it was another close encounter with a win this season. She's finished runner-up the last five times she's advanced to the finals.

"Of course we wanted to win," said Force Hood, the second daughter of Funny Car driver John Force. "We are bummed, but give us half an hour we'll be back to our normal selves. We'll be able to see the bigger picture that we made it to another final. We just need to keep doing that."

Like everyone else, Capps is a big fan of Force Hood, and the way she's galvanized a group of fans. There are girls who arrive at Force Hood's trailer, wanting autographs and tips on how they, too, can break into racing.

Force Hood is always happy to answer any question, sign any autograph.

"Ashley's a great role model," Capps said. "She carries herself so well. She's a good person."

On the race track, though, Capps forgets all that.

"You go out there and try to imagine you're racing somebody you don't like," Capps said, smiling. "Luckily, it worked out."

Brown extended his lead in the Top Fuel division, opening up a 96-point advantage on Larry Dixon.

Not bad for a motorcycle rider turned drag racer. Brown made the switch to Top Fuel last season and keeps getting better the more runs he makes.

On Sunday, he ended a streak that's been plaguing him. On four occasions this season, he's had the No. 1 qualifying time, only to bow out in eliminations.

Not this time. Brown beat Doug Kalitta in the finals after Kalitta blew his engine early in the race.

"I'm happy, I'm stoked," Brown said. "I'm glad to get that monkey off my back -- the No. 1 qualifying position and losing all the time. It feels great."

Johnson won at Bandimere for the second time in three years, beating Jason Line off the line and holding on at the finish.

"I love Denver," said Johnson, who always seems to do well at his title sponsor's event. "We've got a combination here that's really hard to beat."

In a qualifying run the night before, Johnson broke his transmission. That turned out to be a mild blessing since it reminded him that he needed to back off a bit.

So the team took a more conservative approach in the car's tuneup Sunday, a move that allowed him to win his second event this season.

"I've lost two finals this year because of my driving," Johnson said. "To be driving well again feels good."

Krawiec has been riding a dominating bike this season, getting to the finals in the last six events.

But he's finished runner-up the last three times, a string he was eager to end.

He did just that as good friend and fellow Harley teammate Andrew Hines red-lighted off the line, turning the tables on Hines who beat him in Norwalk, Ohio.

"Andrew and I are probably the most two competitive people in this entire park," Krawiec said. "Whether it's walking, cutting our grass or whatever, Andrew and I are trying to race each other doing it. We feed off one another. Now, we can be that dangerous duo out there. Hopefully this shows."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE