2013 NHRA: Ron Capps Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Results: WINNER
Ron Capps proved Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway that he and his NAPA AUTO Parts team are not deterred by disappointment or fire.
If anything, Capps along with crew chief Rahn Tobler, assistant John Collins and the rest of the NAPA team, seem to have been ignited by a flaming engine explosion during Saturday's first qualifying session and the disappointment two weeks before that when the team failed to qualify for a race near Seattle.
The NAPA team showed their fortitude by getting a repaired Dodge Charger R/T back on the track for Saturday's last qualifying run, and although it smoked the tires on the run, they looked to be in championship form in the Lucas Oil Nationals when they won their third NHRA Mello Yello Series title of the year and moved up to second place in the standings.
The NAPA team had to face current Funny Car points leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan in the championship round at Brainerd and a stellar tune-up by Tobler and work by the NAPA team overcame Hagan's quicker reaction time off the starting line.
Capps' time of 4.063 seconds at 312.28 mph slipped past Hagan's 4.095 by a winning margin of one-thousandth of a second.
Of Capps four runs Sunday, three ranged between 4.054 and 4.073 seconds.
"I wasn't on my game this weekend, but Tobler made up for it with his tune-up," Capps said of his reaction times.
"That final round epitomizes how tough our Funny Car category is right now. You have to be on your absolute best on every run, and I wasn't today. But Tobler made up for it. When we went out there in the final he stepped it up to saved me. Wow. What a weekend."
Capps, who recorded the 499th round win of his career, was able to qualify for the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins two weeks after the Aug. 28- Sept. 2 U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.
"I got to put my name up there (as a Countdown qualifier) after we won the second round," he said. "I can't believe there still are four spots open that won't be settled until the U.S. Nationals.
"Before this weekend Matt Hagan was the only guy who had clinched a spot. It is so incredibly tight out here. I say it every year, but it just gets tougher and tougher every year."
Capps predicted after the team didn't qualify to race near Seattle two weeks ago, that the mistake Tobler made in setting a clutch timer could end up being one of the best things to happen to the NAPA team.
"I never felt Tobler would be lost coming here off the DNQ. Right after we didn't qualify he called a meeting and came right out and said he messed up. It takes a special crew chief to step up like that so our guys didn't think there was something wrong with our NAPA Dodge."
The following are Capps' results and other notes from Brainerd International Raceway:
Event winner: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 4.038 sec., 313.37 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 9
First round: CAPPS (4.054 sec., 311.70 mph) def. Del Worsham (4.696, 187.81)
Second round: CAPPS (4.073, 309.77) def. Jack Beckman (4.102, 309.70)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.116, 304.87) def. Tim Wilkerson (5.215, 142.70)
Final: CAPPS (4.063, 312.28) def. Matt Hagan 4.095, 312.78)
Session 1: 4.197 sec., 252.19 mph
Session 2: 4.096, 308.99
Session 3: 4.128, 269.03
Session 4: 6.877, 87.97
Sunday: Eliminations, 9 p.m. (ET), delayed
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Unofficial after 17 of 24 events; through Brainerd; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN, 1,253
2. RON CAPPS, 1,129
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 1,066
3. Cruz Pedregon, 1,066
5. John Force, 1,054
6. Courtney Force, 1,039
7. JACK BECKMAN, 1015
8. Tim Wilkerson, 952
9. Bob Tasca III, 906
10. Robert Hight, 902
TRAXXAS NITRO SCHOOTOUT QUALIFIERS
The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, which are races within U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near over Labor Day Weekend, showcases Top Fuel on Aug. 31 (Saturday) and Funny Car on Sept. 1 (Sunday). Each Nitro Shootout champ will receive $100,000 for their teams.
The following drivers have qualified for the Funny Car Shootout:
1. Courtney Force (Pomona 1 winner)
2. RON CAPPS (PHOENIX)
3. JOHNNY GRAY (GAINESVILLE)
4. Cruz Pedregon (Las Vegas 1)
5. MATT HAGAN (CHARLOTTE 1)
6. John Force (Bristol)
7. JACK BECKMAN (highest in points without a 2013 title)
8. Fan vote
The top-10 drivers in points after the Aug. 28-Sept. 2 U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis qualify for the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship that begins Sept. 13 near Charlotte to determine the 2013 season champs in NHRA pro categories.
The following are drivers who are qualified through the past weekend's Mello Yello event at Brainerd, Minn.:
1. MATT HAGAN
2. RON CAPPS
3. Cruz Pedregon
4. John Force
5. JOHNNY GRAY
6. Courtney Force
TESTING, TESTING, TESTING
DSR teams and many others from the Mello Yello Series will test Wednesday and Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis in preparation for the 59th annual U.S. Nationals Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at the track.
DSR INDY OPEN HOUSE ON AUG. 30
Fans and friends of Don Schumacher Racing are invited to join the biggest team in professional racing on Aug. 30 at the 8th annual Don Schumacher Racing Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley.
The festive, free event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on that Friday will feature a giant car show, entertainment and appearances by each of DSR's seven professional drivers along with owner Don Schumacher at DSR headquarters at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg, Ind.
The event kicks off the NHRA U.S. Nationals Labor Day Weekend, which opens with professional qualifying later that day at Lucas Oil Raceway located about 3 miles from DSR headquarters.
The Open House, which attracted a record-crowd of more than 4,000 fans last year and boosted DSR's contributions to Riley past the $200,000 mark, invites all to celebrate DSR's 200th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title.