NHRA - Etown

NHRA K&N Filters SuperNationals
Englishtown, NJ.

By Bobby Bennett; Photos by Roger Richards, Brian Wood, Bobby Bennett


SUNDAY FINAL - FULLER ENDS DIXON'S FATHER'S DAY WINNING STREAK AT FIVE WITH HIS THIRD CAREER WIN; Ron Capps, Jason Line and Matt Smith round out Father's Day winners at K&N Filters Supernationals

(6-18-2006) - Top Fuel driver Rod Fuller managed to stop Larry Dixon's streak of five consecutive Father's Day victories Sunday by beating Dixon in the final of the $1.8 million K&N Filters NHRA Supernationals.

Fuller's Valvoline rail went straight down a hot and greasy quarter-mile in 4.692 seconds at 314.24 mph to beat Dixon's tire-hazing 4.825 at 299.73 mph. Fuller was joined by Funny Car's Ron Capps, Pro Stock's Jason Line, and Pro Stock Motorcycle's Matt Smith in Old Bridge Township Raceway Park's winner's circle.

"I knew Dixon had that Father's Day thing going but our car was running great all weekend and I knew we had a chance if we stayed within ourselves," Fuller said. "This one's for my dad. He's a racer and he's the reason I love racing. He's my best friend."

Season-long points leader Melanie Troxel's first-round loss to Dixon combined with her 11th-place qualifying effort helped Doug Kalitta trim her lead in the POWERade standings from 71 to 48 points.

The Funny Car final was close as Capps got a big headstart with a .079- to .133-second reaction time advantage only to barely hold off hard-charging reigning champion Gary Scelzi. The final numbers had Capps winning with a 5.025 at 299.46 mph in his Brut Dodge Charger to Scelzi's quicker but losing 5.012 at 301.81 mph in the Oakley machine.

"Beating Gary on a holeshot takes some of the excitement out of this win," Capps said, as he held back tears. "Last year 'Ace' (crew chief Ed McCulloch) got sick the Thursday before the race with his cancer and Scelzi's crew chief Mike Neff jumped in and helped us. Gary is a mentor to me and our teams are together. Our trailers literally connect to one another and I know they wanted that win."

This was Scelzi's first final-round appearance of his title defense. He moved up one slot to seventh in the POWERade Series points. Capps more than doubled his advantage in the standings with this win. After entering the race with a 48-point cushion, he leaves town with a 106-point edge.

With all the pre-final talk focusing on Connolly's lethal performances at the starting line, it was Line coming through with a quick start that began his 6.729-second, 205.98-mph victorious pass. Line's .013-second start got his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO rolling and he carried that momentum to the other end, beating Connolly's 6.739 at 206.45 mph in his Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt.

"I can't believe I won this race as crappy as I've been driving all day," Line said. "This is really something. I don't know what it is about this racetrack but I love it. We won the last two years here before I was a father and now I win my first Father's Day race since my son Jack was born. How cool is that?"

Greg Anderson paid the price for his first-round holeshot loss to nemesis Warren Johnson as his lead in the POWERade rankings was trimmed from 110 to 37 points over Line, his KB Racing teammate.

Smith finally got his first NHRA victory by coming from behind on his G-Squared/Torco Race Fuels Buell and taking care of Karen Stoffer and her Geico Suzuki in the final round. Smith was awarded the victory at last year's U.S. Nationals at the racetrack but officials later reversed the decision when video tape showed he crossed the finish line second. This year, the same thing happened in an earlier round victory.

This one was a clear victory with Smith overcoming terrible.030- to .107-second reaction time deficit by halftrack and taking the win with a 7.111 at 185.38 mph ahead of Stoffer's 7.234 at 186.12 mph.

"The first thing I asked them at the top end was, 'are you guys absolutely sure I've won this race?' " Smith said. "I guess this one was legit. Even Karen came over and said she saw that I was ahead of her at the stripe. It feels like this has been a long time coming, for sure. I'm glad dad (Pro Stock driver Rickie Smith) was down there waiting for me."