After back-to-back Dallas wins, a first-round loss at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals was the last thing Ron Capps was expecting when he started Sunday eliminations at the Texas Motorplex. But after driving into tire smoke, Capps had to watch as opponent Alex Laughlin drove past him for the win. It was a challenging first round for several other top-ranked Funny Car drivers, though, so the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra will maintain his No. 4 position in the points standings going into the penultimate race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season.
Capps opened qualifying with a 3.889-second pass at 326.42 MPH before improving on that mark twice, including a weekend-best 3.844 E.T. in the final session to qualify fourth. Capps made the third-quickest pass of two sessions, collecting two bonus points along the way.
Seeking his third consecutive win at the Texas Motorplex, Capps paired up with Laughlin for the first round of eliminations. The second-year team owner and driver started to drive into tire smoke, and while he attempted to recover, he lost traction again and had to coast across the finish line. It was just the fourth first-round exit for Capps in his third championship defense season.
“This is always a pivotal race, good or bad,” Capps said. “We felt like you can’t have more than one throwaway race in the Countdown and still win a championship. Now, we certainly hope that’s not the case because we plan on going and winning both the remaining two races. But yeah, that first round was just strange. It’s something this car doesn’t do very often – smoke the tires that early. We were trying to get lane choice and make sure we threw a good run down, which we’d done every run prior, running 3.80s every qualifying run.”
While Capps was hoping to gain ground in pursuit of a fourth world championship, he didn’t drop any spots with his first-round loss. He will go into the second-to-last race of the year ranked fourth and with a 99-point deficit separating him from current point leader Matt Hagan and is confident that crew chief Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and the Ron Capps Motorsports team can bounce back to close out the season strong.
“Everybody works just as hard whether the car turns the win light on or not,” Capps said. “I’ve been spoiled. I think we all have here with how successful this car has been. It’s the same group of people when it runs good and turns win lights on. It’s the same group that has each other’s backs when we don’t. We’ve got the best partners in the world. I’m just looking forward to a weekend off, gathering our thoughts, and heading to Vegas because it’s gonna be a throwdown race for us.”
Capps’ pursuit for another title will continue in two weeks when the NHRA Camping World Series tour returns to Las Vegas for the NHRA Nevada Nationals, Oct. 27-29, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Start / Finish: Qualified No. 4 / Defeated by Alex Laughlin in the first round
Points Earned: 37
2023 NHRA Camping World Series Points Standing / Total: No. 4 / 2,362 pts.
Next Race: Oct. 27 – 29, Las Vegas, NHRA Nevada Nationals
How to Watch or Listen: FS1; NHRA.TV
Established in 2021, Ron Capps Motorsports is a single-car NHRA Funny Car team owned and operated by reigning and three-time world champion Ron Capps. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., the team made its on-track debut in 2022 and competes on the 21-race NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit thanks to the support of NAPA Auto Parts, Toyota, and GearWrench.