After the NAPA Dodge Charger was eliminated in the last round of the semifinals at the New England Nationals, Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team are looking for that lucky charm to get them back into the NHRA winner’s circle.
EPPING, N.H. (June 23, 2013) – Last Sunday at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, if Ron Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team had any luck it was bad luck. A broken throttle cable clip ended the team’s day early in round one.
Fast forward a week later to the inaugural New England NHRA Nationals in New Hampshire and Capps and his Rahn Tobler-led team flashed the form that took them to five race wins in eight final rounds last season.
“We were a little bit unlucky last week in Bristol with the throttle cable breaking,” Capps said of last Sunday’s first round upset to rookie Chad Head at Bristol Dragway. “We felt like we had a really good car and we could make some points up.”
The NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T qualified in the No. 4 position at New England Dragway, his second best start of the ’13 season after earning the No. 2 spot at Atlanta Dragway last month.
On race day at the NHRA’s inaugural New England bash, the NAPA car posted the quickest elapsed time of round one at 4.084-seconds, followed by a solid run of 4.118-seconds to defeat 2011 NHRA Top Fuel champion Del Worsham in round two. Squaring off against 15-time NHRA champion John Force in the semis, the NAPA flopper lost traction at the hit of the throttle as Force earned the trip to the final round at 4.144-seconds. It was the 68th career meeting between Capps and Force and only the second time that Force has beaten Capps in the last 10 meetings.
“This is a tough race track for people to adjust to because it was so good,” Capps said of the all-concrete strip at New England Dragway. “We didn’t expect the track to be this good. Even though we had some humidity and some heat, it made it quite the challenge for the crew chiefs. I do nothing but brag about (Rahn) Tobler and (assistant crew chief) J.C. (John Collins) because we adapt so well.
“We ran what we need to run on Friday night and got lane choice with the No. 4 spot and went three rounds. We were low E.T. of the first round. We’re back in the game and out of the test mode of going down the race track. What it did in the semifinals we’re still trying to figure out what happened. It blew the tires off instantly. We’re close. Maybe we just needed to find that four leaf clover.”
Capps and the NAPA Batteries/Intrepid Fallen Heroes Funny Car team hope that luck continues for two more win lights next Sunday at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago. The 2005 winner of the fall NHRA race at Joliet hopes to collect another Wally trophy from team owner Don Schumacher’s home race track.
“I love the two night sessions; it’s like old school drag racing for a California kid. What we went and watched was Funny Cars at night,” Capps added. “The fans are going to get their money’s worth next weekend.”
Join us next weekend at the 16th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., June 28-30. Or, watch it Sunday on ESPN2 and cheer on Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team.
Event winner: Courtney Force (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: John Force (John Force Racing), 4.051 sec., 313.44 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 4
First round: CAPPS (4.084 secs., 311.20 mph) def. T. Pedregon (35.025, 22.68)
Second round: CAPPS (4.118, 307.79) def. Worsham (4.214, 306.81)
Semifinals: J. Force (4.144, 310.55) def. CAPPS (10.056, 84.34)
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standings
(Unofficial after 11 of 24 races)
1. MATT HAGAN, 788
2. Cruz Pedregon, 767
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 711
4. Courtney Force, 677
5. John Force, 662
6. JACK BECKMAN, 659
7. RON CAPPS, 654
8. Tim Wilkerson, 624
9. Del Worsham, 609
10. Robert Hight, 549
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. ET, championship eliminations on ESPN2 (delayed)
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.