Photo courtesy Ron Capps official Twitter account

NHRA: Ron Capps shows lots of class with comments about John Force’s struggles

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JOLIET, Illinois — It’s likely that several of John Force’s arch-rivals on the drag strip have enjoyed, even privately snickered at his struggles this season.

But not Ron Capps.

The 2016 NHRA Funny Car champ and second-winningest driver in Funny Car history (57 to Force’s 148 wins) did one of the classiest things seen in the NHRA in quite some time Sunday during eliminations of the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in suburban Chicago.

John Force. Photo: Getty Images.

Force and Capps squared off in a semifinal round. Coming into the run, Force had led the rivalry between the two with 56 round wins over the years to 36 by Capps and Force was hoping to go on to win the event, which would have been his first victory of 2018.

It was not to be, however. Force hit the timing block at the finish line, which resulted in a lane violation that would have disqualified him.

But that was all relative, as Capps reached the finish line first to win the run and reach the 111th final round of his career.

Afterward, Capps was interviewed in the cool down area and said some very classy things about Force. Other drivers could take a few pointers from Capps’ comments.

“John is my hero,” Capps said. “It’s hard to watch him struggle. It ain’t him or his guys. This isn’t him.

“(When they got to the start line) I had it in my heart that old man is going to get up and bite me.”

But Capps prevailed and moved on to the finals vs. Robert Hight, Force’s teammate and president of John Force Racing. Hight would go on to win the event when Capps lost traction near mid-track.

Force has endured three motor explosions and three crashes in the first nine races this season, including hitting the wall and bursting into fire Saturday night. He’s also having his worst season performance-wise since 2007, coming into this weekend’s race ranked 12th in the Funny Car point standings.

However, after Sunday, Force has moved into the top 10 for the first time this season (he’s now 10th).

Before he took his car to the pits to prepare it for the final round matchup, Capps added one last classy comment about Force, “Don’t give up on the guy, because I’m not.”

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Christopher Bell wins third straight Chili Bowl

@cbnationals, Twitter
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Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the final lap of the 55-lap A-Feature to win the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Bell is only the second driver in event history to win three consecutive Golden Drillers, joining Kevin Swindell who holds the record with four.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to win the Chili Bowl,” Bell said at ChiliBowl.com. “To do it three straight times is just unbelievable, but man, I don’t even care about three straight. What about that race? I don’t think I’ve ever really been a part of a last lap race like that, so I’m just glad that thing came out in the end.”

As the white flag waved on his eighth appearance in Saturday’s main event, it seemed Larson was finally going to walk away with his first Golden Driller. This was closest he’s been to the win.

Larson took the lead from Logan Seavey on Lap 21 after a five-lap hot pursuit. Bell moved into second for the first time on Lap 27 but a caution forced him back to third as the field realigned to the last completed lap.

On Lap 33, Bell passed Seavey again for second before another caution reset the field. On the next restart Bell road the rim diving to the hub in Turns 3 and 4. With Larson in sight, Bell started to think about where he was going to put his third trophy.

The final caution flag of the night waved with 20 to go to set up the Bell vs. Larson shootout fans had been waiting for since Larson retired early from the race last year. Larson pulled away on the highline in Turns 1 and 2. He switched to the low in 3 and 4.

With five laps to go Larson hit traffic. That gave Bell the opportunity to close the gap. With two to go Bell was on top of Larson and challenging for the lead. On the final lap Bell passed Larson in Turn 2 as they bumped tires. Glued together through the final pair of turns, they touched twice more before Bell pulled away on the final stretch.

The action wasn’t over, however. Bell wound up on his lid following the win. His donuts got a little out of control and he rolled his midget.

Justin Grant took third by passing Brady Bacon on Lap 36. Bacon followed for fourth with Zach Daum in tow to complete the top five.

Tyler Courtney was the hard charger of the night finishing sixth after starting in 22nd. Brad Sweet and CJ Leary finished seventh and eighth.

Seavey was able to hold onto third until late in the race but ultimately the pole sitter who led the first 20 laps faded to ninth.

Tanner Thorson rounded out the top ten.

Friday’s Main Event

1. Christopher Bell
2. Kyle Larson
3. Justin Grant
4. Brady Bacon
5. Zach Daum
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Brad Sweet
8. CJ Leary
9. Logan Seavey
10. Tanner Thorson
11. Danny Stratton
12. Jonathan Beason
13. Tucker Klaasmeyer
14. Colby Copeland
15. Rico Abreu
16. Michael Faccinto
17. Chad Boat
18. David Gravel
19. Cole Bodine
20. Robert Dalby
21. Jake Neuman
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Shane Golobic
24. Sean McClelland