Funny Car Points Leader Capps Ready for First Maple Grove Title
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 28, 2016) – This weekend will be the 22nd year in which Ron Capps has competed at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., and none could be more important than the 32nd annual NHRA Dodge Nationals.
The popular championship contender and driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny car for Don Schumacher Racing owns 50 NHRA Wally trophies from 23 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tracks including two that no longer are on the circuit.
But the entrance to Maple Grove’s winner’s circle has eluded him.
He’ll open qualifying 2 p.m. Friday at the picturesque facility nestled in rolling hills about an hour from Philadelphia with the points lead in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs for the third of six playoff races with crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant Eric Lane.
— Ron Capps (@RonCapps28) September 27, 2016
“You’re going to probably need to at least make the semifinals at each Countdown race and you have to collect those ‘little points’ in qualifying,” he said of the bonus points for the three quickest in each of four scheduled qualifying session along with added points where your final qualifying position.
“You might be able to have a hiccup here and there, maybe even have a loss in the second round. But we don’t want to do that.
“We still believe that the most important thing is to do well in qualifying so you start Sunday in the top-eight and Tobler can have his choice of lanes for the first round. Don (Schumacher) always says you have to focus on each qualifying run before ever thinking about what you’ll do on Sunday (in eliminations).”
Through two of six Countdown races, Capps is tied for the most qualifying points earned with 24 and has advanced to the semifinals at both events. He started the Countdown as the top-seed with a 30-point lead, built it to 42 after the opener at Charlotte weeks ago and extended it to 48 after last Sunday.
A year ago at Maple Grove, he also raced in the semifinals but has not been to a final round at the track since 1999 and 2000.
“One thing or another has gotten in our way. I love the track and it’s been good to me, we just have not won the Wally there yet.”
He hasn’t accomplished a Maple Grove title over the past four years with Tobler and before that with hall-of-fame crew chiefs Ed “Ace” McCulloch and Roland Leong, or with hall-of-fame team owners Schumacher and Don “Snake” Prudhomme.
Capps, a California native living near San Diego, is in the midst of his best Mello Yello season. The NAPA Dodge leads Funny Cars with five event titles in 20 races and has qualified No. 1 four teams, which ties his most wins in a season and it’s the most poles he’s ever won in one year.
His record in Sunday eliminations is an astounding 45-14, which is one round win from tying his career best season.
And four events remain in the Mello Yello season.
“Maple Grove is just all-out brute horsepower, strap your belts as tight as you can and hang on. There’s going to be guys and girls this weekend that will run the quickest they’ve ever run. That’s the type of track this is.”
Ron Capps: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event: St. Louis (Sept. 23-25): Qualified No. 3, lost in semifinals to Jack Beckman
A year ago at Reading: Qualified No. 2, lost in semifinals to Jack Beckman
Career at Reading: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (1999-2000); Poles 0
*49 FC/1 TF; Best time, speed: 3.843 sec. (2016, Seattle); 330.23 mph (2016, Seattle)
After 2 of 6 Countdown events
|Driver (2016 event titles)||points|
|1||Ron Capps (5)||2273|
|2||Tommy Johnson Jr. (1)||2225|
|3||Jack Beckman (2)||2203|
|4||John Force (3)||2199|
|5||Del Worsham (1)||2189|
|6||Matt Hagan (3)||2177|
|7||Robert Hight (1)||2159|
|8||Courtney Force (1)||2149|
|9||Tim Wilkerson (2)||2144|
|10||Alexis DeJoria (1)||2068|
NHRA Dodge Nationals TV Schedule (all times ET)
Friday, September 30: 6:00 pm – Qualifying on FS1
Sunday, October 2: 2:00 pm – Eliminations on FS1