Capps, NAPA Team Ready for SpringNationals after Quick Test Session
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (April 22, 2014) – Moments after Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T won the Funny Car pole for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the veteran driver couldn’t have been more upbeat.
He remained optimistic a few days later on April 13 when his team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler, a former Houston resident, and assistant Eric Lane lost traction midway through their first-round loss in the unique Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway on the world’s only four-lane dragstrip.
“What I love about Rahn Tobler is the minute we got back to our pit after the first round he had our NAPA guys tearing our Dodge apart looking for what caused it to chatter so bad around half-track when the clutch was trying to lock up.
“I know Tobler and Eric will have it figured out and ready for Houston,” Ron said of this weekend’s event at Royal Purple Raceway at Baytown, Texas.
Well, Ron was half right. Tobler and the NAPA team solved whatever the problem was but they didn’t wait for Houston. The team remained at the dragstrip near Charlotte Motor Speedway the following Monday and uncorked the quickest run of the entire weekend.
Tobler cracked the mystical 4-second barrier with a time of 3.99 seconds on one of only two runs the team made in the test session.
“There’s always something you’re working on to get better,” said Ron, who owns 41 NHRA nitro titles. “We got the pole at the Four-Wide with a great run and you always learn from those. We got outrun in the first round.
“They took the car apart after we lost in the first round and found out why it slowed down. Then we went out and ran a 3.99, and we shut off the second run early and it was on pace to do what the first one did.
“Testing is testing, and I love our guys’ methodical approach to testing.”
It was the first sub 4-second run under any conditions for a Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car through five racing weekends this year and first for DSR since September 2013. Capps and Tobler, who own the quickest elapsed time for a Funny Car at 3.964 seconds (May 2012), last broke 4 seconds in June 2013 at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.
“It really doesn’t matter because it was on Monday and we weren’t racing,” Ron said.
“It thought we were on a 3-second run when we won the pole (with a 4.059) the way the car threw me back in my seat, and that 3.99 in testing felt the same but it just kept pulling.
“That makes us feel real good going to Houston,” he said of the track where he won titles in 2006 and 2007 and was runner-up in 2012.
“That track can be really fast and it’s always good to go to a place where you’ve had success.”
Ron, who has won 16 No. 1 qualifying positions, will start the Houston race ranked fourth in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings but has not advanced past the semifinals this year through five events but made the semis in two of the last three races.
“We’re not very far away from winning. I can feel it. We’ve had some success at the last two races and it keeps getting better.”
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 4th 5 0 0 2 1 2 1 0 5-5
CAREER 416 41 40 FC/1 TF 41 70 84 162 16 18 511-357
Best Time, Speed: 3.964* sec., (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.); 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown)
* Quickest ever in NHRA
HOUSTON BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (April 13, Concord, N.C.): Qualified No. 1; lost in first round
A year ago at Houston: Qualified No. 11; lost in semifinals to Tim Wilkerson
Career at Houston: Wins 2 (2007, 2006); Runner-ups 1 (2012); Poles 0
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins), points
1. Robert Hight (2), 488
2. John Force (1), 453
3. Alexis DeJoria (2), 375
4. RON CAPPS (0), 282
5. Del Worsham (0), 277
6. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (0), 264
7. MATT HAGAN (0), 257
8. Courtney Force (0), 244
8. Tim Wilkerson (0), 244
10. JACK BECKMAN (0), 234
NHRA SpringNationals Event Schedule
Friday: 4:30, 7 p.m., nitro
Saturday: 1, 3:30 p.m., nitro
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Saturday: 6-8 p.m. ET, qualifying
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. ET, championship eliminations