Ron Capps came into the weekend wanting the first-place spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Tony Pedregon came into the weekend holding that spot, and he wasn't about to give it up.

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After a weekend of nearly perfect driving by both, Pedregon pulled past Capps in the final elimination and earned victories in back-to-back years in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Pedregon managed a speed of 295 mph, and had an elapsed time of 4.14 seconds in his final pass down the track. Capps spun his tires the second half of the track and finished with an elapsed time of 6.61.

Tony Pedregon reacted after winning the Funny Car final Sunday in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.

Steve Kohls

The victory was a mixture of elation and relief for Pedregon as he had to deal with a crew chief shakeup. During the week Pedregon's crew chief left and the result was that more responsibility was put on his shoulders over the weekend.

"I really enjoyed being as involved as I have been this weekend," Pedregon said. "I haven't woke up as early as I have this weekend and to be honest with you I enjoyed it. It's easier to enjoy it when you win. It was definitely something different and thank goodness that I have gone through what I have in my career. Those things helped me pull through it."

Capps needed to get by John Force in the semifinals and it was not an easy task. Capps said he heard traffic on his radio out of the staging area, and on the first part of his run, which threw him for a loop. It was his seventh finals appearance of the season. His season record in those races now stands at 5-2.

Capps and Force spun their tires but Capps was able to recover and win with a time of 5.258 seconds. Force finished at 5.859.

Pedregon ran his slowest time of the day in his semifinal matchup against Jack Beckman, with Beckman having the better elapsed time. However, Pedregon had the better reaction time and won on the hole shot.

Tony Pedregon did a final burnout Sunday before winning the Funny Car division Sunday at BIR during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.

The first round of eliminations had excitement and upsets. In the most tightly contested matchup, Capps, the No. 2 qualifier, had the low elapsed time of 4.115, and a speed of 302.69 for the first round, and just got by No. 15 Tim Wilkerson, who ran a 4.12 with a speed of 303.98.

Team Force had a tough time in the first round. Ashley Force Hood, the No. 3 qualifier, went out in the first round to No. 14 qualifier Jacky Wyatt. Then Jack Beckman, who stands fifth in points and was the No. 16 qualifier, upset top qualifier Mike Neff. Beckman ran a 4.195. John Force saved the first round for the team as he got by Bob Bode to move to the second round.

Tony and Cruz Pedregon won their first-round eliminations. With Cruz being on the bubble for the Countdown to the Championship, the race was critical, and he took care of business by defeating Matt Hagen.

Tony Pedregon qualified in the No. 5 spot and beat Jeff Arend, the No. 12 qualifier. Bob Tasca III, and Del Worsham, also moved to the second round.

Beckman kept things going in the second round with another upset victory over Worsham, the No. 8 qualifier. Beckman had a winning time of 4.175, with Worsham having car problems.

Tony then sent his brother Cruz home with a win in a matchup of No. 4 and 5 qualifiers. Tony edged Cruz with an elapsed time of 4.155 to 4.187. Capps moved on with a victory over Tasca III, and John Force was not contested because Jack Wyatt blew his engine during his first-round victory.

Funny Car

Highlight: Tony Pedregon wins back-to-back titles at BIR.

Pedregon leaves BIR with two races left before the Countdown with his third win of the season, and the points lead. Dealing with his crew chief situation, and the changing weather, made it a trying, but successful weekend.

"The weather was one of the elements that made it all that much tougher for us," he said. "We knew that it would be hot Friday and then it changed. The changing conditions couldn't have been more difficult for us to deal with. Thinking that I am solidly qualified on Friday, and the clouds come in and everything changed and I felt like I wasn't comfortably in the show.

"I think nature and everything else got thrown at us this weekend, and we're still here. It's a tribute to people working together."