2013 NHRA: Ron Capps NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Event Preview
Ron Capps knows the difficulty of the task that lies ahead for his NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team this week when it arrives at Maple Grove Raceway for the fourth event of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
It isn't an easy one, but one he wholeheartedly believes is within the reach of the NAPA Dodge Charger R/T team at Don Schumacher Racing.
"We have three races left, and we have to win all three," said Capps, who has won three Mello Yello Series titles this year through 21 events and 41 in his career.
"Any team might say that, but what makes it fun for me to see is that our NAPA Dodge is very capable of doing that. That is something that not every driver can say. It's a challenge and we've been posed challenges like this in the past."
Capps ranks sixth in championship points midway through the six-event Countdown playoff and trails points leader and DSR teammate Matt Hagan by 111 points. That gap makes it a tougher row to hoe for Capps.
"We've seen drivers lose bigger points leads than we're face with," Capps said. "We are only worried about controlling what we can do.
"Our Funny Car category is as tough as it's ever been. We're confident we're taking a car to Reading with a great chance to win, make up points and to try to set a record."
An NHRA record for elapsed time pays a 20-point bonus for the driver able to leave the event with the new mark. A year ago, another DSR teammate, Jack Beckman, earned that 20-point bonus that went a long way toward him overtaking Capps for the 2012 Funny Car world championship by two points.
Beckman trailed Capps by 97 points with four Countdown events left while DSR's Antron Brown was in the Top Fuel points lead by 104 after Reading. Beckman was able to edge past at the season-finale at Pomona, Calif., where Brown had to hang on to win his championship by seven points.
Capps said, "At Reading last year, we lost the points lead and left trailing Beckman by 23 points. We went to the next race at Vegas and had to win, and we did just that. Unfortunately, Beckman went to the final round with us so we only gained 20 points on him when we beat him."
A year ago at Reading when championship eliminations were delayed by rain and cold from Sunday to Monday, Beckman set the national record with a time of 3.986 in the first round and advanced to the semifinal round. Capps conversely didn't qualify for eliminations until his fourth and final run and then lost to Beckman in the second round of eliminations.
"We had a terrible weekend there last year, and it probably cost us the championship," said Capps, who has advanced to the final round twice (1999, 2000) at Maple Grove but it is one of the few tracks where he has not won a title.
"The list is short. Maple Grove is one of the oldest tracks we go to and the fans are great, and I want to win there.
"When we drive through the gates at Maple Grove this week we know we will have to be near the top of the qualifying charts. Yes, we are more than 100 points out but stranger things have happened many times."
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (Sept. 27-29, Madison, Ill.): Qualified No. 6; lost in second round to John Force.
A year ago at Maple Grove: Qualified No. 8; lost in second round to teammate Jack Beckman.
Career at Maple Grove: Wins 0; runner-ups 2 (2000, 1999); poles 0.
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2013 6th 21 3 2 4 5 7 1 1 31-17
CAREER 408 41** 41 67 81 160 15 18 502-349
**40 Funny Car/1 Top Fuel
Best Time, Speed
3.964 sec. * (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.), 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown); * quickest ever
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official through Sept. 29 near St. Louis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,336 (--)
2. John Force 2,330 (-6)
3. JACK BECKMAN 2,292 (-44)
4. Robert Hight 2,288 (-48)
5. Cruz Pedregon 2,253 (-83)
6. RON CAPPS 2,225 (-111)
7. Courtney Force 2,202 (-134)
8. JOHNNY GRAY 2,187 (-149)
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,142 (-194)
10. Del Worsham 2,142 (-194)
2013 REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight (Charlotte), C. Pedregon (Dallas), J. Force (St. Louis).
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Sept. 13-15 Charlotte, N.C.
(Finals: TF/Lucas def. MASSEY; FC/Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF/Kalitta def. Langdon; FC/C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(TF/BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC/J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona
NHRA NATIONALS NEAR READING
SCHEDULE (Times are ET)
Friday: 2 p.m., 5 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: Noon, 3 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Sunday: 8 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
WEATHER.COM FORECAST MOHNTON, PA.
(As of Tuesday afternoon)
Friday: High 81; 10 percent chance rain
Saturday: High 82; 20 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 80; 20 percent chance of rain