Ron Capps Notches First Victory At Indy Strip

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Ron Capps outran J.R. Todd in the final round to take the Funny Car Wally Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)
Ron Capps outran J.R. Todd in the final round to take the Funny Car Wally Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)

CLERMONT, Ind. – Ron Capps picked up his first victory at Lucas Oil Raceway, racing to the Funny Car victory on Sunday at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil.

The victory also gave Capps a win at every track on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the fifth race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and third straight at Lucas Oil Raceway during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capps won for the first time this year and 65th time in his career with a final-round run of 4.110 seconds at 294.63 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat J.R. Todd in a battle of former champs. It also gives Don Schumacher Racing its seventh straight Funny Car win and the organization its 349th overall win. Capps beat Tim Wilkerson, Blake Alexander and Bob Tasca III to reach his first final round of the year, leading to a memorable celebration after the first-time Indy win.

“We’ve been coming here 23 years and I’ve never won at this track,” Capps said. “For a driver to say he has won on every track on the (NHRA) circuit, that tells you the talent that is around Don Schumacher, Dodge, Pennzoil, (and) especially NAPA Auto Parts. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m so proud to drive that race car. We’ve been coming to Indy so many years.

“My wife lives this dream through me. I get emotional here, but she understands the mood swings when you don’t do well and you go home and it’s something we love to do. It’s the best job in the world. Our family members have been coming here for years wanting to be here when I won Indy. I’m so bummed they’re not here, but this (trophy) is going back and it might be a week-long party. I can guarantee you that.”

Defending and back-to-back Top Fuel world champ Torrence picked up his second win of the year and 38th overall in unconventional fashion on Sunday, outlasting Terry McMillen in the finals with a run of 4.273 seconds at 224.17 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence smoked the tires and pedaled the car late in the run, but held off McMillen, who was late on the starting line. It gave Torrence his first victory since the NHRA restart last month, advancing to the final round after victories against Luigi Novelli, Justin Ashley and Leah Pruett.

Steve Torrence was the winner in Top Fuel Sunday afternoon. (Shawn Crose Photo)
Steve Torrence was the winner in Top Fuel Sunday afternoon. (Shawn Crose Photo)

“I’m not the best at pedaling one of these things, but I try to do my job,” Torrence said. “We go out there and we knocked the tire off, and it kind of surprised me, but I did the best I could do. All the guys at Capco, thank you for supporting us and I got my head out of my butt. We’re headed home with another Wally and it’s a blessing to be able to come back out here and get to enjoy what we enjoy doing. We just love to race.”

In Pro Stock, it was an all-Coughlin final round, as five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove past nephew and first-time Pro Stock finalist Troy Coughlin Jr. in the championship round with a 6.680-second pass at 206.92 mph in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro. It gave the points leader his second win of the year and 65th in his career. Jeg Coughlin, who is retiring from full-time action following the season, knocked off Val Smeland, Elite Motorsports teammate Alex Laughlin and longtime rival Greg Anderson to reach his 114th final and first against his nephew.

“This is huge, without question,” Jeg Coughlin said. “I’ve loved having Troy Jr. coming with us week in, week out and I knew I would have my hands full with him in the finals. We’ve been pretty good and what a weekend. We’re going to celebrate and we’re looking forward to getting to the next race.”

It was an emotional scene in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as Sampey picked up her first win since 2016 and 43rd overall, going 6.880 seconds at 196.07 mph in the final round on her Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson EBR to beat Chris Bostick. Sampey, who celebrated her birthday on Friday, won for the third time at Indy. She knocked off Steve Johnson, defending world champion Andrew Hines and Scotty Pollacheck to reach the final round, adding another victory in her impressive career as the NHRA’s winningest female competitor.

“I just tried to stay calm,” said Sampey, who had a .001 reaction time in the finals. “I didn’t know if we were going to get the bike fixed and I just said I’m going to stay calm. They got it fixed and thank you to Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson. I told you I was going to do this.”