BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 24, 2012) - Ron Capps likely would have been happy in April if he was told he would be within 23 points of the Funny Car points lead upon his return six months later to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T.
But he'll be disappointed with that scenario when he gets to the track Friday for the start of the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.
Capps mounted one of the hottest streaks ever in NHRA once Rahn Tobler became his crew chief after Capps' team did not qualify for championship eliminations on April 1 at the Las Vegas race, which was the fourth event of the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
After Tobler teamed with Capps, the NAPA AUTO PARTS team advanced to six consecutive championship rounds and won two titles then added another before taking the points lead after the 17th of 23 events that also marked the end to the regular season.
At the start of NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, the NAPA team won its fourth title of the year in the opening event of the playoff and advanced to the semifinals at the next race to take a commanding 96-point lead.
"We had a lot of people saying the championship was going to be wrapped up by us when we had that (big) point lead going into St. Louis," Capps said. "It almost irritated me every time somebody would say something, whether it was media or just fans, because I think they forget how quickly things can turn around, which they have. I could almost tell you what was going to happen when we went out in St. Louis. Jack (Beckman) went on to win, and I just had a hunch that was the way it was going to go. It wasn't going to be an easy championship run for anybody."
His words proved to be prophetic.
Beckman, one of Capps' teammates at Don Schumacher Racing, moved within 30 points of Capps at St. Louis. At the next race, Beckman's team eliminated Capps in the second round near Reading, Pa., where the series last raced, and set a national elapsed time record to earn 20 bonus points and move 23 ahead of Capps.
But it was clear something was wrong with Capps' Funny Car, after losing in the second round at two straight races.
The team tested near Indianapolis two days after returning from Reading.
"We just had one of those hiccups in Reading," Capps said. "We hadn't tested all year long so we put our old stuff back in it and the car went right down the track. Tobler figured out what the problem was, which is a great sign. He also found a steering box that was going bad, which could have been disastrous the first qualifying run in Vegas.
"So that test was huge for us. We can put that behind us and go forward."
After six events this season, John Force Racing had won each of the first six Full Throttle events with Robert Hight winning four straight. Most assumed Hight would coast to his second championship.
But that, however, is why the championship trophy won't be engraved until the season ends on Nov. 11 at Pomona, Calif.
It's a three-man race with Beckman first, Capps 23 points back in second and JFR's Mike Neff in third, 54 points behind Beckman.
"I remember last year when I was Jack's crew chief and we left Phoenix with two races left as the points leader, and we didn't win it," Tobler recalled. "Anything can happen. We're still in the game. It was great for Jack and that team to get 20 points for a national record, but it was more important to us to get our car straightened out. And I think we have."
RON CAPPS, NAPA Carlyle Tools Dodge Charger R/T
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 4 (2001-Oct., 2005-Oct., 2009-Apr., 2011-Oct.), Runner-ups 2 (2006-Apr., 2007-Apr.), Poles 1 (2011-Oct.)
2012 April at Las Vegas: Did not qualify
2011 October at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 1, beat Johnny Gray in final round
2012 Pts Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 21 3 0 4 1 33-17
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
385 37 39 13 17 465-331
NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings
FUNNY CAR Points Points Behind
1. JACK BECKMAN 2,437 --
2. RON CAPPS 2,414 -23
3. Mike Neff 2,383 -54
4. JOHNNY GRAY 2,246 -191
5. Cruz Pedregon 2,244 -193
6. John Force 2,217 -220
7. Courtney Force 2,216 -221
8. Robert Hight 2,211 -226
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,207 -230
10. Jeff Arend 2,180 -257
11. MATT HAGAN 1,129
Friday: 1, 4 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 12, 3 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., eliminations
Friday: High 72, 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 77, 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 79, 0 percent chance of rain
ESPN2 SCHEDULE (subject to change):
Sunday: 4-5 p.m. ET, qualifying
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. ET, eliminations
About NAPA Carlyle Tools
More than 85 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association was created to meet America's growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Since then, NAPA has had one goal: give customers the parts and tools they need to get the job done right.
Carlyle Fraser was one of NAPA's founders and served as its fifth company president. He remained a driving force through NAPA's growth for several years. Carlyle Fraser's dedication to quality and product diversity has been a source of inspiration over the years. When the Carlyle line of professional hand tools was crafted, there was no question regarding what name would best represent such a comprehensive arsenal of products.
Carlyle Professional Hand Tools by NAPA introduces a new legacy in the tool market based on quality and performance in the tradition of its namesake.
Carlyle Professional Hand Tools encompass a broad product line with over 1,700 individual items and sets. All tools are designed to meet or exceed ASME Standards and feature superior finishes and strength treatments. The quality and care put into building these tools have the Professional Automotive Technician in mind.
There is a lot of pride in the Carlyle Professional Hand Tool program and we can assure you it has the NAPA quality and Know How you have come to expect from NAPA's history and heritage.
About NAPA AUTO PARTS
NAPA was founded in 1925 to meet America's growing need for a world-class auto parts distribution system. By providing excellent customer service for more than 80 years, NAPA has become the industry leader.
NAPA's strength is unrivaled, with over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS stores, 64 Distribution Centers, than 13,000 NAPA AutoCare, AutoCare Collision and Truck Service repair facilities, over 400,000 parts in inventory every day and the convenience of 24-hour shopping with NAPAonline. NAPA AUTO PARTS stores provide friendly, personalized service. Our highly trained and experienced professionals are here to help you get the job done. With our huge in-stock inventory, NAPA provides the parts you need when you need them.
For your automotive repair needs, NAPA AutoCare and AutoCare Collision and Truck Service Centers can handle everything from preventive maintenance to major repairs. Technicians at NAPA AutoCare Centers have access to the most extensive training in the automotive industry. Qualifying repairs are backed by the NAPA AutoCare "Peace of Mind" Warranty, providing our customers with 12-months/12,000 miles of worry-free protection on qualifying parts and labor. Wherever you may travel, our warranty is honored at all NAPA AutoCare Center locations across the country.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 195 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
- DSR -
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