BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Octobler 11, 2017) - Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team proved last season that they could earn the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship without winning a race in the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff.
This year the Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil team and led by crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant Eric Lane with the NAPA AutoCare Center crew are ready to show they can collect Countdown trophies and win a second straight world title.
Capps will arrive at the NHRA Fallnationals on Friday at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas on a two-race winning streak that has produced a career-best eight NHRA Wally Trophies in this year's first 21 races.
He'll also start qualifying 3 p.m. (CT) Friday with the series points lead and 46 points ahead of John Force Racing's Robert Hight, who won the Countdown opener on Sept. 17 near Charlotte.
"Tobler and I talked with the team about last year and the only thing we would have liked to be different would have gotten into a winner's circle during the Countdown, but we won six of the first 18 races and were determined that to win the championship we needed to average a semifinals finish over the last six races."
The NAPA team again won six of the first 18 and have won two of the last three that is a much higher average than the semifinals.
"To get these last two wins is awesome," said Capps, who owns 57 Funny Car and one Top Fuel titles in his career. Included in that inventory is one at the Motorplex but that goes back to 1998 although he advanced to final round a year ago when he lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan.
Tobler has focused on improving the team's performance in cooler conditions and that paid off at the last two events when he qualified No. 3 both times.
"We're focusing on looking at what's right in front of us.
"We made a conscious decision to improve our performance in cooler conditions," Capps said. "Come raceday we know we can run with any of these teams especially under adverse conditions like when it's hot."
That's this weekend near Dallas where the weather forecast for qualifying Friday and Saturday is in the high 80s.
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 1st 21 8 3 2 5 3 0 0 49-13
CAREER 504 58* 53 91 103 181 21 19 676-427
* 57 FC/1 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.839 sec. (2017, Phoenix); 333.58 mph (2017, Phoenix)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event: Sept. 29-Oct. 1: Qualified No. 3, won in championship round over Jonnie Lindberg
A year ago at Dallas: Qualified No. 7, lost in championship round to Matt Hagan
Career at Dallas: Wins 1 (1998), Runner-ups 2 (2011, 2016), Poles 1 (1997)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official standings through St. Louis; 21 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (8) 2395 -----
2. Robert Hight (3) 2349 -46
3. Courtney Force 2287 -108
4. MATT HAGAN (3) 2238 -157
5. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2228 -167
6. John Force (1) 2197 -198
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2191 -204
8. J.R. Todd (2) 2168 -227
9. Tim Wilkerson 2130 -265
10 Cruz Pedregon 2096 -299