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Apr 09, 2014 - 06:54 AM
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2014 NHRA: Ron Capps NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Apr 09, 2014 - 06:53 AM
2014 NHRA: Ron Capps NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Event Preview

If harnessing 10,000 horsepower and guiding a Funny Car 1,000 feet at 320 mph isn't enough of a challenge, this weekend's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will present Ron Capps with a couple added variables while driving his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T steed.


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The fifth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, the world's only four-lane dragstrip, features heats of four drivers in two pair of lanes separated by a center dividing wall. Four drivers contend in each of four qualifying sessions beginning Friday for the chance to race in Sunday's 16-car elimination bracket again in four-car heats with the first two crossing the finish line advancing to the next round.

Ron's sprints will make him understand how a racehorse feels during the most unique event of the 24 held on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.

"There are different things that go on at that track," said Ron, who has won 41 NHRA Mello Yello Series event titles including the fall event at zMAX in 2012. "When you stage the car at the starting line you really can't see the track ahead of you because of the way the track slopes down a little."

On race day, he can relate to a horse running with side blinders.

"In the Four-Wide it's like the side windows on our Dodge Chargers are completely blacked out. You really can only see the car we're next to in our pair of lanes. You don't want to know what's going on next to you and you have to approach it that way on Sunday because on a normal weekend if the car next to you gets way out in front and you smoke the tires early you shut it off and save the motor. But this is completely different because the second quickest car gets to advance on Sunday."

That means Ron and other drivers never can give up if their cars lose traction early. On Sunday, if that happens they are forced to get on and off the throttle heading to the finish line however they can.

"It pays to have a crew chief like I have Rahn Tobler because if I have to do multiple pedals - like trying to get an outlaw Sprint car through a corner - it's going to be the engine that can last and hold together through someone getting off and on the throttle of a 10,000-horsepower engine. If the tune-up isn't happy it's going to expire and you could blow the body off the car. If the tune-up is pretty steady it will stay together longer.

"You have to have a car that will withstand that punishment."

Ron and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team will arrive at Concord, N.C., with momentum from two straight semifinals finishes that moved them up to fourth in the Mello Yello standings after four events. The team also spent March 31 testing at Las Vegas after the last NHRA event.

"We had one of our best test days ever on that Monday after the race," he said. "Tobler and (assistant Eric Lane) and the NAPA crew had our Dodge running as good and consistent as it has been all year."

Ron wants to follow the lead of new NAPA AUTO PARTS teammate Chase Elliott, 18, who won his first NASCAR Nationwide race on Friday at the Texas Motor Speedway. Ron expects the son of Bill Elliott, who drives for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team that is affiliate with Hendrick Motorsports, to visit at zMAX on Sunday.

"It was huge to see my NAPA teammate get his first Nationwide win. It was an emergence of what that NAPA No. 9 team is going to be like."

Ron was scheduled to fly Tuesday to Akron, Ohio, where he will participate in a NAPA function at Carrolton, Ohio, before heading to Charlotte to participate in an annual golf tournament the following day to benefit Doug Herbert's B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), which is a free, defensive driving program for teenagers aged 15-19. (PutOnTheBrakes.com)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 4th 4 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 5-4
CAREER 415 41 41 70 84 161 15 18 511-356
Best Time, Speed: 3.964* sec., (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.); 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown)
* Quickest ever in NHRA

Last event (March 28-30, Las Vegas): Qualified No. 6; lost in semifinals to Robert Hight
A year ago at Four-Wide: Qualified No. 11; lost in first heat
Last fall at zMAX: Qualified No. 12; lost in quarterfinals to Courtney Force
Career at Four-Wide: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
Career at zMAX: Wins 1; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

driver (wins), points
1. Robert Hight (1), 367
2. John Force (1), 358
3. Alexis DeJoria (2), 299
4. RON CAPPS (0), 241
5. Del Worsham (0), 224
6. Courtney Force (0), 207
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (0), 205
8. MATT HAGAN (0), 204
9. JACK BECKMAN (0), 202
10. Bob Tasca III (0), 194

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