When you take a look at the competing teams and drivers in NHRA's Funny Car category, two things seem clear: both the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) and John Force Racing (JFR) teams with four cars each are going to be the ones to beat at the end of the year. And no slight to Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson or anybody else but those two powerful teams have what it takes … and that includes money.
They haven't disappointed - two drivers from DSR and one from JFR are less than three rounds apart with two races still to go including this upcoming weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The season ends two weeks later at Pomona with the World Finals.
Our three contenders, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Mike Neff have never won the Funny Car championship as a driver. Currently Beckman leads the point standings by 23 over Capps and 54 markers ahead of Mike Neff.
Beckman rides into Las Vegas with three wins this year and a record-setting elapsed time at the last race. Beckman was runner-up last season to his teammate Matt Hagan. This year, he's been battling another teammate in Capps who was leading the points for most of the year. The 46 year old Beckman has been driving Funny Cars full-time for six seasons - all of them at DSR.
Capps is a three-time runner-up in Funny Car and always has seemed destined to win a championship. But his last runner-up was seven seasons ago and in the last couple of years, Capps hadn't even finished in the top five in points. Still, the 47 year old who has been driving Funny Cars for over 15 seasons, sits just over a round out of first with four wins under his belt in 2012 driving for DSR - Capps has been with DSR for eight years.
Neff is actually a former champion in Funny Car but not as a driver, rather a tuner instead … twice. He was the crew chief for Gary Scelzi back in 2005 when they won the Funny Car title together for DSR. After two years driving for JFR, Neff stepped out of the car and became a tuner again, this time turning the screws for John Force and winning the 2010 championship. But now the 46 year old Neff has driven for JFR the two years and is his own crew chief as well. This is his fifth season at JFR, winning four times so far this year which has helped to keep him only 54 points out.
In control of their destiny
These three men have won 11 of the 21 events in 2012 and the way they're running, any one of them can win the championship. Having over one round advantage on Capps and over two rounds on Neff has given Beckman the edge. But Capps controls his own destiny as long as he beats Beckman by a round at each of the two remaining events. Neff needs to do the same thing with each of his competitors but will need for one of them to slip one round or he needs a record ET for the extra bonus points that would put him over the top.
None of the three has a distinct advantage over the other at this point. Each has won a meet during the Countdown but no one has created any momentum greater than the next guy.
Again, Las Vegas is this weekend and then the Finals at Pomona are on November 11. With cooler weather, records may fall which could have a bearing on the outcome of the championship. 2012 Funny Car championship could be one to remember.
Sources - NHRA
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
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