Ron Capps got back into the NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car championship on the same day that Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) put a death grip on their class' championships by the time the fireworks flew at the end of Sunday's Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Capps and the NAPA Dodge Charger beat teammate and Funny Car points leader Jack Beckman and the Schumacher Electric Dodge Charger in Sunday final. It sets up a duel in two weeks at the season finale to determine who will be the champion.
"We had to battle back all weekend," Capps said. "We were trying to gain those qualifying points every round. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler kept telling me we were all right and we were just sneaking up on it. Then today, he unleashed it."
Johnson and Krawiec won their respective classes as Bob Vandergriff Jr. won Top Fuel to round out Sunday's winners.
Capps is now four points behind Beckman with just four rounds of racing left in the 2012 season.
"After Jack's opponent red lighted in the semifinals in front of me, I thought, 'Oh my God, Jack's got that horseshoe again,'" Capps said. "But we're both fighting for that first championship ring. I wake up in the morning and it's all I think about. And we're close."
Capps ran a 4.070 second lap at 315.12mph as Beckman went up in smoke at the line, finishing in 8.455 seconds at 74.33 mph.
Despite much of the Pro stock field maneuvering around to try and knock Johnson's Mopar Dodge Avenger out in the early rounds, no one on the property had the performance to knock the points leader off.
Johnson leaves Las Vegas with a 126 point lead over second place Jason Line.
"The car has been consistent all year," Johnson said. "To cushion that point lead there, we feel a little easy going into Pomona. I want to go to that last race and win that championship with an iron fist. It's what this team wants to do."
In the finals, Johnson beat Vincent Nobile and the Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger. Johnson finished in 6.637 seconds at 208.17 mph to seal the win as Nobile crossed the finish line in 6.670 seconds at 204.39 mph.
Krawiec and the Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson won for the second time in as many days (he won the conclusion of the rain delayed Reading, Pa. race on Saturday) and put even more distance between himself and second place rider, teammate Andrew Hines.
"It takes a lot of pressure off me heading into Pomona," said Krawiec, who leads Hines by 111 points. "I think right now if I qualify and get a couple of qualifying points, I'll wrap it up. Looking back, it's really been a dream season for me."
Krawiec's final round pass was in 6.959 seconds at 194.10 mph. He beat Matt Smith's Viper, which ran a 6.967 at 192.28 mph in the final.
Vandergriff's C&J Energy Services rail beat the U.S. Army dragster driven by Tony Schumacher in the finals. Vandergriff ran a 3.832 second lap at 324.75 mph to seal the win as Schumacher smoked and sputtered to a 5.543 second finish at 124.25 mph.
"We've had a great racecar all weekend," Vandergriff said. "It's been a year since our last win, and we didn't think it would take that long to win again. Everybody told me the second one comes easy. I think they're full of it. They don't come easy."
The day wasn't a total loss for Schumacher, however. With Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown losing in the first round and then-second place Spencer Massey went out in the second round, Schumacher was able to climb into second place in the standings.
Brown leads by 65 points over Schumacher with four rounds of racing left in the season.