LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2017) - As bad as it was for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team Sunday in the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, it could have been worse.
Although Ron Capps and the NAPA team lost in a first round for the first time in 20 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, the reigning Funny Car world champion still earned more points than a year ago at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when they failed to qualify to even race on Sunday.
A problem developed in the first round for the NAPA Dodge when the engine lost a cylinder that soon left Capps powerless.
"It's difficult here, it really is," he said. "For the tuners, the dry air, the track for the drivers, it's a very demanding place and I love it, man.
"Unfortunately, which is so rare for (crew chief Rahn) Tobler and our NAPA AutoCare team it put a cylinder out, maybe two, on the left side. I knew it when I hit the throttle but it's Sunday and there's not a whole lot you can do.
"I thought about maybe pedaling it because I didn't see (rookie Jonnie Lindberg who advanced to the final round) or hear him and I thought, 'Oh, maybe I'll slap the throttle.' But with that much volume of fuel going in you don't want to do that that far down the track.
"It just finally knocked the belt off of it. Just that happens, just not very often with us. Sunday in Vegas you look up in the grandstands on the burnout and the place is packed. You can't ask for better, so thank you."
The series resumes in two weeks at Houston.
RESULTS FROM LAS VEGAS
Winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.867 sec.-track record, 327.66 mph
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; assistant: Eric Lane
Qualified: No. 4
First round: Jonnie Lindberg (4.332 sec., 250.37 mph) def. CAPPS (5.607, 125.26)
FRIDAY: 3.917 sec., 324.12 mph, (Session 1); 8.289, 81.03, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.951, 320.13, (Session 3); 3.877, 322.04, (Session 4)
2016 Las Vegas 1: Did not qualify (No. 17)
2016 Las Vegas 2: Qualified No. 4, lost in semifinals to Courtney Force
Career at Las Vegas 1: Wins 1 (2009); Runner-ups 2 (2006-07); Poles 0
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 5 (ties track record; 2012, 2011, 2009, 2005, 2001); Runner-ups 2 (2007, 2006); Poles 1 (2011)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Las Vegas 1; 4 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN (2) 368 -----
2. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 324 -44
3 John Force (1) 314 -54
4. RON CAPPS 275 -93
5. Courtney Force 218 -150
6. JACK BECKMAN 205 -163
7. Robert Hight 201 -167
8. Jonnie Lindberg 183 -185
9. Jim Campbell 180 -188
10. J.R. Todd 170 -198
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