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2014 NHRA: Capps Ready To Scale Thunder Mountain To Start Western Swing
Posted by: newsla on Jul 16, 2014 - 06:10 AM
2014 NHRA: Capps Ready To Scale Thunder Mountain To Start Western Swing

Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler are coming off a successful stint of four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events and are eager to begin the annual Western Swing this weekend near Denver.


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Ron has the perfect way to prepare for the three-race, three-week run from Denver to his home track in Sonoma, Calif., before closing out the Swing near Seattle.

The native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., will take a detour from his annual family vacation to compete in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals near Denver that opens Friday evening and continues with late afternoon and evening qualifying sessions Saturday before championship eliminations the following afternoon.

"This time of the year has always been a crucial time and it seems more so this year," said Ron, who is ranked third in points after being seventh six weeks ago. "We're third in points but it's so bunched up from second to eighth. If you have a really good race or a really bad race this time of the season it could really jockey the points around."

Ron's upward move was propelled by his first event title of the year at Epping, N.H., on June 22 and advancement to the championship round at the last race at Norwalk, Ohio. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team will arrive at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., outside of Denver only 43 points outside of second. (One round win on Sunday pays 20 points.)

"We're gearing up for the hot West Coast Swing that really made the race at Norwalk even more important. What makes it challenging at Bandimere is having the early evening sessions like we had at Chicago and Norwalk on Friday and Saturday and then going into Sunday's eliminations without having data to run in the afternoon at the track.

"The fans love nighttime qualifying, and we love it too but it puts the crew chiefs under more duress because we will start racing at 11 on Sunday morning."

It will be the third straight event during which all qualifying sessions have been held later than Sunday's championship eliminations are scheduled for the afternoon.

Crew chiefs will face variables unlike they've seen through the first 13 of 24 Mello Yello events. The forecast for the high 80s to 90 that could produce season's hottest conditions is compounded by track's elevation, which 5,800 feet is the highest on the circuit and chokes the 10,000-horsepower engines of oxygen in the thin air.

"Denver throws us the most extreme conditions all year but I love that racetrack.

"Everybody wants to sweep the Western Swing but you can't do that without winning the first one at Denver. We just want to keep gaining points."

Only eight drivers have swept the Western Swing since it began in 1991.

But the Swing has been good to Ron, who has won seven times in 15 championship rounds at the three tracks including his first NHRA title in 1995 when he won the Top Fuel trophy near Seattle.

Last event Norwalk, Ohio (July 6): Qualified No. 5; lost in championship round to John Force
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 8; lost in quarterfinals to Cruz Pedregon
Career at Denver: Wins 1 (2009); Runner-ups 2 (2007, 1998); Poles 1 (2009)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 3rd 13 1 1 6 1 4 1 0 20-12
CAREER 424 42 42 74 84 164 16 18 526-364
Best Time, Speed: 3.964* sec., (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.); 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown)

(Official after 13 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) pts behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 1,067 ----
2. John Force (2) 889 -178
3. RON CAPPS (1) 846 -221
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 845 -222
5. Alexis DeJoria (2) 779 -288
6. Courtney Force (1) 764 -303
7. Del Worsham 748 -319
8. MATT HAGAN (1) 739 -328
9. Cruz Pedregon (1) 726 -341
10. JACK BECKMAN 655 -412

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