BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 4, 2017) - Ron Capps made a big career move last year when he won the first NHRA Mello Yello Series world championship of his 22-year career.
And the driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil took another big step toward a career first Monday when he advanced to his first final round of the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.
But the No. 1 seed heading into the six-race Countdown to the Championship that begins in two weeks near Charlotte, came with 26-thousandths of a second from winning the title of the year's biggest race.
Reigning Funny Car world champion Ron Capps
|Ron Capps was joined by NAPA AUTO PARTS IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi on Monday the day after Rossi won the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
advanced to the first final round of his 22-year career with the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant Eric Lane and also won the regular-season title to earn the No. 1 seed for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins in two weeks near Charlotte.
"This race is such a big deal," Capps said. "Leaving here as the regular season point leader going into the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship in Charlotte is the silver lining on a cloud right.
"We're just a little disappointed. We had a shot at winning Indy and it only comes once a year. You get so involved in this whole week and weekend of this historic race, over 60 years of coming here, you get up that far and to lose a close race like we did hurts a little more than most races.
"But I've never been so happy so quickly after a loss like that because I know going into the Countdown we've got our racecar back. We've really sort of struggled through the West Coast Swing and trying some things, but then found a few things on the way that I think are going to help us in the championship run"
"But man, just all year long to come here and then you've got wait another year for a shot at it."
ROSSI JOINS NAPA TEAMMATEAFTER WINNING INDYCAR RACE
Alexander Rossi, who won last year's Indianapolis 500 and just signed a contract extension with Andretti Autosport, won his second career IndyCar race Sunday at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Rossi's banner weekend started with earning his first career pole and ended by attending his first NHRA Mello Yello race with Capps.
Event winner: J.R. Todd (Kalitta Motorsports)
No. 1 qualifier: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.799 sec., 338.77 mph - track records
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T - regular season champion
Crew chief Rahn Tobler:; assistant crew chief: Eric Lane
MONDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: CAPPS (3.880 sec., 328.54) def. Alexis DeJoria (3.901, 331.94)
Second round: CAPPS (3.939, 300.60) def. Jim Campbell (6.609, 100.03)
Semifinals: CAPPS (3.940, 324.75) def. Jack Beckman (3.948, 322.81)
Final: J.R. Todd (3.923, 325.53) def. CAPPS (3.949, 325.53)
Qualified: No. 8
FRIDAY: 10.938 sec., 71.07 mph, (Session 1 of 5)
SATURDAY: 3.883, 329.67, (Session 2 of 5); 3.906, 308.57, (Session 3 of 5)
SUNDAY: 3.871, 330.55, (Session 4 of 5); 4.053, 262.13, (Session 5 of 5)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 1st 18 6 3 2 4 3 0 0 39-12
CAREER 501 56* 532 91 102 181 21 19 666-426
* 55 FC/1 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.839 sec. (2017, Phoenix); 333.58 mph (2017, Phoenix)
INDY BY THE NUMBERS
A year ago at Indy: Qualified No. 3, lost in semifinals to Del Worsham
Career at Indy: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2017); Poles 0; All-star/Invitational event titles 3 (1998-99, 2002)
FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
2017 COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
1. RON CAPPS (6) 2,100 -----
2. Robert Hight (2) 2,080 -20
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 2,070 -30
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2,060 -40
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 2,050 -50
6. Courtney Force 2,040 -60
7. John Force (1) 2,030 -70
8. J.R. Todd (2) 2,000 -80
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,010 -90
10. Cruz Pedregon 2,000 -100
FINAL 2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO REGULAR SEASON
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,530
2. Robert Hight (2) 1,344
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,280
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,275
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,229
6. Courtney Force 1,072
7. John Force (1) 1,007
9. J.R. Todd (2) 959
8. Tim Wilkerson 902
10. Cruz Pedregon 730