BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 16, 2013) – Just as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car was finding its way back to championship form, a broken throttle linkage ended driver Ron Capps’ day early.
When Capps floored the pedal in the opening round of the Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals his car inched off the starting line instead of blasting off like a rocket.
He went nowhere and was unable to defend the title he won at Bristol Dragway a year ago that was the third time he left Bristol with the trophy.
“That hasn’t happened in a long time,” Capps said.
“At the starting line, you’re prepared to be scrunched back in the seat by 5gs but then it doesn’t go anywhere. It didn’t pop or backfire so I knew it had to either be something with the throttle linkage or something broke.”
Capps was right; a piece of the throttle linkage failed.
It was even more disheartening because it stopped Capps’ streak of five solid runs including four in qualifying at Bristol.
Capps had to sit and watch Chad Head in the other lane.
“I just coasted on down,” Capps said. “I watched Chad out of the front window of our Charger and could see he was wiggling and waggling. He’s one of my best friends out here – and I surely didn’t want him to get hurt – but I could tell he got close to the (guard) wall and thought if he just touched the rear fender a little we could back into it.”
Under NHRA rules, a car is disqualified if it hits a guardwall or crosses the centerline.
“It’s unfortunate because I felt it would be a good day for us. We’re not worried about points yet, but we felt we needed to keep up with the guys ahead of us if not gain ground on them.”
Fortunately for Capps, who started the day ranked fifth in points, and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team, two of the teams ahead of him – Don Schumacher Racing teammates Johnny Gray and Jack Beckman – also lost in the first round. Capps will remain fifth in points.
Capps and the NAPA team are eager to get to next weekend’s inaugural New England NHRA Nationals at Epping, N.H.
“We got our hot rod back in qualifying with four good runs that were close to having the lowest elapsed time in each session,” he said. “All we can do now is get ready for Epping.”
The next event for Capps and the NAPA Funny Car team is the inaugural New England NHRA Nationals in Epping, N.H. Join us at the track to cheer Capps on, or watch the racing action on ESPN2 this Sunday, June 30, starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Capps’ results from Bristol and other notes:
Event winner: John Force
No. 1 qualifier: Del Worsham, Kalitta Motorsports; 4.008 sec. (track record), 314.83 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 5
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Chad Head (4.880 sec., 225.48) def. CAPPS (10.767, 84.08)
Session 1: 4.137 sec., 297.42 mph
Session 2: 4.066, 310.84
Session 3: 4.191, 293.03
Session 4: 4.142, 304.60
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
(Unofficial standings after 10 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN, 746
2. Cruz Pedregon, 730
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 677
4. JACK BECKMAN, 584
5. RON CAPPS, 579
6. Tim Wilkerson, 571
7. Courtney Force, 560
8. Del Worsham, 557
9. John Force, 535/555
10. Robert Hight, 514
2013 EVENT WINNERS
FUNNY CAR: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force.
Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.