SEATTLE (Aug. 6, 2017) - Don't misunderstand Ron Capps when he says NAPA AUTO PARTS crew chief Rahn Tobler has been experimenting a little over the past few weeks during the Western Swing on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour.
With the regular season title almost locked up, Tobler and assistant Eric Lane already are looking toward the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins at Charlotte after the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis.
The plans turned out pretty good a year ago when Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car Powered by Pennzoil won the NHRA championship even though it did not win a title in the playoff.
"We showed how consistent we could be last year in the Countdown," Capps said of when they advanced to four semifinals and two final rounds.
"We've had a great season with six trophies already and that's afforded us the opportunity to do what we did last year."
Capps advanced to the second round Sunday in the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle but it was his only win in eliminations during the three-race Western Swing. But his last two losses were to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in first rounds at Denver and Sonoma, Calif.
"I've said in every interview after we won that these teams would catch up to us and some of them have," Capps said. "We know the Funny Car championship this year will have to go through a DSR team and probably all four of us."
Capps said Tobler has been focusing on his Dodge's clutch system.
"We have to do this during NHRA race conditions and not on Mondays," said Capps. "That's the NAPA Know How I keep talking about Tobler having.
"Don't be fooled by these last few races; he has the vision."
Capps' lead over No. 2 Matt Hagan, one of his teammates, is at 158 points. But John Force Racing's Robert Hight, who has won the last two events including Sunday at Seattle, has narrowed the margin behind Capps to 166.
Event winner: Robert Hight (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Hight, 3.8383 sec., 329.34 mph
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T - 6x winner in '17, world champ
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: CAPPS (3.901 sec., 326.00 mph) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.232, 236.32)
Second round: Tommy Johnson Jr. (3.957, 323.19) def. CAPPS (3.976, 311.41)
Qualified: No. 6
FRIDAY: 4.175 sec., 241.41 mph, (first session); 4.019. 319.37, (second session)
SATURDAY: 3.984, 314.24, (third session); 3.956, 317.34, (fourth session)
SEATTLE BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 30), Sonoma, Calif.: Qualified No. 12, lost in first round to Tommy Johnson Jr.
A year ago at Seattle: Qualified No. 2, won in championship round over Del Worsham
Career at Seattle: Wins 3 (1995-TF & career first, 1998, 2016);
Runner-ups 4 (2001, 2006, 2008, 2010); Poles 2 (1997, 2012)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
Unofficial after Seattle; 16 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,330 -----
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,172 -158
3. Robert Hight (2) 1,164 -166
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,104 -226
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,081 -249
6. Courtney Force 951 -249
7. John Force (1) 877 -453
8. Tim Wilkerson 759 -571
9. J.R. Todd (1) 756 -574
10. Cruz Pedregon 601 -729