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Jun 11, 2013 - 06:26 PM
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2013 NHRA: Ron Capps Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jun 11, 2013 - 06:24 PM
2013 NHRA: Ron Capps Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Event Preview

Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team are heading to Bristol Dragway where they won the Funny Car title a year ago.


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It's the ideal time for the Don Schumacher Racing team to return to where it has a proven and winning track record.

It might not be a critical time for Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler, but it is an important time for the team after losing in the first round at the last NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. That marked the third time in the past six events when Capps didn't make it past the opening round.

But Capps, who owns 39 NHRA event titles, has never wavered in his belief in his NAPA AUTO PARTS team, especially Tobler and assistant John Collins.

"The best part of being associated with this team is the fact that we know a win is coming soon," Capps said. "I can say that confidently as a driver. That's the feeling you get when you work with Tobler and this team."

The team has encountered several mysterious gremlins that have slowed the team after it was runner-up at the season opener and followed that by winning the title at the next race near Phoenix. Capps was first in points after the third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event before a variety of unpredictable maladies hit their Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car and dropped to him to No. 4.

After a disappointing No. 11 qualifying position two weeks ago at the NHRA Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J., the team found what had been causing problems. Despite producing the fourth best run of the first round at Englishtown, Capps lost to what ended up being the quickest run on that Sunday.

"We're in the process of getting our NAPA Dodge back on track to where we were toward the end of last year," he said of when he won three of the last eight events to come within two points of the world championship.

"We felt like we were pretty close at Englishtown but a couple things popped up that threw us a curveball. Tobler and JC (Collins) had it figured out by Sunday, but we ran up against the best run of the day."

Capps heads to Bristol Dragway, which is part of Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire of NHRA and NASCAR racetracks. It's a track where Capps has won Funny Car titles in 2001, 2006 and last year.

"Bristol is always a good weekend. We look forward to going there, it's one of Bruton Smith's facilities and one of the best we go to.

"It's one of the tracks where you can guarantee the track will be prepped and ready for NHRA when we get there, and that makes the crew chiefs happy. Bristol is circled every year because we love going there.

"I went to Bristol for a press conference right after we raced in Englishtown and they had a huge turnout. That support is one of the things that makes you feel like you want to go there."

The Bristol event is the first of four Mello Yello events to be held over the next four consecutive weekends.

Last event (June 2, Englishtown, N.J.): Qualified No. 11; lost in first round to Cruz Pedregon
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 4; beat Alexis DeJoria in championship round
Career at Bristol: wins 3 (2012, 2006, 2001); runner-ups 0; poles 0

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 4th 9 1 1 2 0 0 12-8
CAREER 396 39** 40 65 14 17 483-340
**38 Funny Car/1 Top Fuel
Best Time, Speed
3.964* (5-31-12, Englishtown. N.J.), 320.89 (5-31-12, Englishtown); * Quickest ever

Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals, Bristol Dragway
Friday: 6 p.m., 8 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: Noon, championship eliminations

Saturday: 7-9:30 p.m. ET, delayed
Sunday: 11 p.m.-midnight ET, delayed

WEATHER.COM (as of Tuesday, June 11)
Friday: High 77, 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 84, 10 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 82, 40 percent chance of rain

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