BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 14, 2012) – When Ron Capps and Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team headed to Brainerd, Minn., a year ago it was not solidly qualified for the Countdown to the Championship.
Capps made it into the Countdown tied for fifth in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing points and settled for sixth in the final standings. His team never got on track toward the end of last season.
But when the NAPA AUTO PARTS team gets to Brainerd Raceway Friday afternoon it will have already clinched a spot in the Countdown as one of the top-10 teams that will contest for the Funny Car world championship over the last six events of the 23-race national tour.
But Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler will not arrive at the track located about 130 miles northwest of Minneapolis without another lofty goal to shoot for, a goal that no one thought possible when Tobler and his crew joined Capps after this year’s fourth event.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS team had failed to qualify for the event at Las Vegas. At the following race and first with Tobler, Capps advanced to final round of the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway after qualifying No. 2.
But points leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing won the Four-Wide title and left with a 246-point lead over Capps, who was seventh in points.
However, when qualifying begins at Brainerd, the NAPA AUTO PARTS team will be second only to Hight and only 31 points from passing Hight for the top spot in the standings.
If it doesn’t happen this weekend, Capps will have the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend to overtake Hight. But Capps doesn’t want to wait.
Moving to first, if only for a race, would mark a remarkable comeback. It also will provide a 30-point bonus for the points leader after Indy when points are reset to start the Countdown.
“That would be huge,” Capps said of passing Hight. “Those 30 points are 10 more than we get for winning a round in eliminations.”
Perhaps even more important to Capps, is what his team has accomplished whether it goes into the Countdown ranked No. 1 or No. 2.
“The most important part for the team is the momentum you have to have when the first of the six Countdown races starts, and I believe we have that now.
Capps was runner-up at Brainerd a year ago to DSR teammate Johnny Gray and in 2009. The last of his two titles at the track was in 2001.
“We’ve had good success there,” Capps said. “A driver does well at certain tracks because of several factors including the mojo he gets from the fans. I’ve always done well there and enjoy it because I have family near there.”
Capps’ wife, Shelley, also is making the northeastern trek from their home in Southern California.
“Shelley’s aunt lives about an hour east of the track near the Wisconsin border so a couple hours after we finish at the track on Sunday night we’ll sitting on her aunt’s dock at the lake.”
It could be the last days of the season when momentum won’t matter to Capps.
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
2011 at Brainerd: Qualified No. 4; lost in championship round to Johnny Gray
Career at Brainerd: Wins 2 (1998, 2001), Runner-ups 2 (2009, 2011), Poles 1 (2000)
2012 Pts Races Wins R-up Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2nd 15 2 3 2 1 28-12
Career Races Titles R-up Poles DNQ Win/Loss
379 35 39 13 17 453-327
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Through Kent, Wash., 15 0f 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; *clinched spots in Countdown)
1. *Robert Hight, 1,143
2. *RON CAPPS, 1,112
3. *JACK BECKMAN, 1,003
4. JOHNNY GRAY, 942
5. Mike Neff, 933
6. Courtney Force, 851
7. Cruz Pedregon, 803
8. Jeff Arend, 749
9. John Force, 746
10. Bob Tasca, 739
11. MATT HAGAN, 677
FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE:
Friday: Qualifying, 3 and 6 p.m. (CT)
Saturday: Qualifying, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. (CT)
Sunday: Eliminations, 11 a.m. (CT)
Saturday: Qualifying, 11 p.m.-1 a.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: Eliminations 9-11 p.m. (ET), delayed
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 189 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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