Early Loss at Las Vegas Leaves Capps Out of Countdown Points Lead
Ron Capps and Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil team and crew chief Rahn Tobler could only watch an opportunity to extend their points lead slip away Sunday near Las Vegas heading to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series finale in two weeks.
Capps, the reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion, started the final day of the 17th annual NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 25-point lead over Robert Hight of John Force Racing but lost in the opening round to John Force after both drivers lost traction early. Unfortunately, Capps didn’t have a second opportunity after his car backfired and shut off.
“We weren’t trying anything special,” said Capps, who has won a series-best eight Mello Yello titles this year. “We weren’t trying to rotate the earth, but it spun the tires and then a quick backfire.”
A win over Force would have advanced Capps to face John Force Racing’s Robert Hight in the second round and a win in that race would have given Capps a more substantial lead going to the NHRA Finals in two weeks at Pomona, Calif.
Force, who was nearly out of contention for the championship, had a poor reaction time at the start against Hight then lost traction and headed toward the guardwall allowing Hight to advance to the next round. In the semifinals, Hight faced Courtney Force, another teammate, who beat Hight as his car smoked the tires.
Capps will trail Hight by only 15 points at Pomona where points are increased by 150 percent for the last event of the Countdown to the Championship playoff. At 22 of the first 23 Mello Yello events, like at Las Vegas, the most a driver could earn was 130 points but it increases to 190 at Pomona.
Start / Finish: Qualified No. 8 / Lost in first round to John Force
Points Earned: 38
Countdown to the Championship Points Standing / Total: 2nd / 2,533
Next Race: Nov. 10-12, Pomona, Calif. (season-finale)
How to Watch or Listen: Fox Sports 1; NHRA All Access