POMONA, Calif. – Ron Capps rallied to top Funny Car qualifying Saturday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals with a run of 4.007 seconds at 319.29 mph.
Capps had the big fourth-round run after failing to qualify Thursday and Friday and ending up 15th in the 16-car field after the third round Saturday morning.
Capps trails points leader Jack Beckman by two points, and must win one more round than Beckman in the final eliminations to take the season title.
"I think I aged another 10 years these last couple of hours," said Capps, who led the standings with three races to go. "I felt like we were losing the grip on what our plan was. We had such a great plan on Thursday. We were going to make those points up and either be tied or go ahead of him and we failed miserably at that. So this (No. 1) is a confidence builder. ... Those two points, if we go out in the same round tomorrow we lose the championship by two points. So Rahn (Tobler, his crew chief) said, 'Hey, let's go out and win the race.'"
Mike Neff, who qualified 10th, is still mathematically alive in the title chase as well. But at 97 points back, he needs to win the race, set a national record and have Capps and Beckman lose in the first round.
Top Fuel leader Antron Brown, trying to become the first black driver to win a major U.S. auto racing championship, was 10th after a blown engine on his final run.
Shawn Langdon claimed the top spot in qualifying with a 3.730 at 327.82 in Saturday's final session.
"Alan (Johnson, his crew chief) and them are always looking for the big numbers," Langdon said. "They said before the run that it had to go 72 or 73. I knew from the time I stepped on the throttle it was going to be fast."
Brown had a 67-point lead over seven-time champion Tony Schumacher and is 70 ahead of Spencer Massey, his first round opponent. Brown needs to win two rounds to claim the championship regardless of what his rivals do.
Allen Johnson and Eddie Krawiec won season titles Saturday. By qualifying for the eliminations, Johnson wrapped up his first Pro Stock title, and Krawiec won the Pro Stock Motorcycle crown for the second year in a row and third time since 2007.
Jason Line led the Pro Stock qualifiers, and Andrew Hines topped the Pro Stock Motorcycle field.
Line took the top spot Saturday morning by setting a pair of track records with a 6.517 at 212.69 in a Chevrolet Camaro Johnson was second at 6.518.
"I can't say enough about this entire team," Johnson said. "I didn't do any of this. It's due to the hard work and dedication of all of them. I'm just the driver, that's it."
Krawiec, fifth in the field when the fourth round began, jumped to No. 1 with a run of 6.811 at 196.59.
Hines reclaimed the top spot he had held since the opening round with a track-record time of 6.809 at 196.53, but the move from fifth to second gave Krawiec the points he needed to win the championship over his Harley-Davidson teammate.
"The most important thing is that this is a team effort," Krawiec said. "It's a big deal for our team. We come out here all year and work hard and give it 100 percent and I get the glory, but I want the glory for the whole team."