BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 15, 2014) – It was the last scenario Ron Capps expected when championship eliminations began Sunday afternoon in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
A stellar 4.024-second qualifying run at 316.38 mph on Friday night earned the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car the No. 3 seed for the championship eliminations. While that pleased Ron and crew chief Rahn Tobler, it was under the coolest conditions of the weekend.
But they also had reason to be confident because their three other qualifying runs on a hot conditions were between 4.171 and 4.188 seconds that seemed to put them in a good position for eliminations when the track reached 132 degrees and was the hottest of the weekend.
That slick track in the first round contributed an upset loss to No. 14-seed Tony Pedregon, whose subpar winning time of 4.355 at 256.21 on a tire-smoking run was enough to beat Ron’s 5.330 (142.06) when he lost traction and momentum earlier.
“We’re in the time of year where when it’s going to be hot. We’re ready for it because you can tell how our NAPA team was so good in qualifying. There’s no excuse for losing and I still have the best crew chief and team for these conditions.
“I know we learned something today and it will help us the next time we get on a hot track. We’ll be ready when we get to Epping (N.H.) next weekend.”
The Thunder Valley Nationals was the first of four Mello Yello Series events in four weekends. DSR and the series will be at Epping, N.H., next weekend for the second annual New England Nationals.
BRISTOL DRAGWAY FUNNY CAR RESULTS
Event winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Del Worsham (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.992 sec.*, 319.45 mph* (*track records)
Qualified: No. 3
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Tony Pedregon (4.355 sec., 256.51 mph) def. CAPPS (5.330, 142.06)
FRIDAY: 4.188 sec., 302.48 mph, (Session 1); 4.024, 316.38, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.171, 301.81, (Session 3); 4.172, 300.80, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial through 10 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
FUNNY CAR points behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 905 —-
2. John Force (1) 640 -265
3. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 627 -278
4. Alexis DeJoria (2) 619 -286
5. Del Worsham 593 -312
6. Courtney Force (1) 581 -324
7. RON CAPPS 571 -334
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 538 -367
9. Tim Wilkerson 533 -372
10. MATT HAGAN 527 -378
11. JACK BECKMAN 512 -383
Don Schumacher, who won many Funny Car titles at Bristol Dragway in the early 1970s, was honored Sunday as the 2014 Legend of Thunder Valley during pre-race ceremonies before the start of the Thunder Valley Nationals at the famed Tennessee track.
Schumacher, one of the early Funny Car drivers and a longtime safety innovator in drag racing, won several International Hot Rod Association titles at Bristol including three of five in 1971. He also owns five NHRA national event titles as a driver/owner and since starting Don Schumacher Racing in 1998 he has won 11 NHRA world championships and 220 NHRA event titles.
The Chicago native, who will be 70 in November, fielded seven professional teams this weekend at Bristol. He was inducted in May 2013 into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, Ala., with NASCAR stalwarts Rusty Wallace, Rick Hendrick and Dale Inman. He was enshrined in the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), the winningest team in drag racing history, has raced to claimed more than 340 NHRA national event victories and 17 Mello Yello World Championship titles. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields professional teams competing in both the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and Factory Stock Showdown, including the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driven by 2016 World Champion Ron Capps.