Tricky lane at Firebird contributes to loss for Capps but NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car is 5th in points

Ron Capps always wants to win the last race of an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event and leave with the Wally trophy, but he is looking further down the dragstrip.

Capps advanced to the second round Sunday in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway and while being disappointed the driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car sees progress and is fifth in championship points after the second of 23 national events.

He lost to event runner-up Mike Neff in a race when both cars smoked the tires. Neff won with a run of 4.264 seconds at 246.74 mph to Capps' 5.246 (165.48).

"Then Zippy (Neff) went out and pulled the tires loose way down in front of me after I had already tried to pedal it but that just makes you think all we had to do was go down the track," Capps said. "It's tough, but it's part of the deal. It could be like this all year, especially in the summertime.

"Lane choice was a big factor, there's no doubt about that. It was impressive that we got down in the first round in the left lane and beat Cruz (Pedregon)."

Capps gave credit for that win to NAPA AUTO PARTS crew chief Tim Richards.

"Tim made a great call. I gotta tell you, for me, this one is one of the tougher weekends where I've really had to challenge myself driving wise, to be on my game. You heard a lot of drivers talking about the car wanting to move around both lanes.

"It was a very difficult track all weekend long. The left lane was harder to drive, definitely. It was harder to tune for the crew chiefs too. We were at a disadvantage. We didn't try to overpower it, so I'm sure we're going to find something a little off, because we went back up and were trying to run a 4.16 or a 4.17 but for some reason it struck the tires early.

"Going to any racetrack with Tim Richards right now is just such an emotional boost for me as a driver. It's a confidence boost. I'm just so proud to show up at the racetrack and know that I drive a car tuned by "The General" and my guys. I'm so proud of them and so proud to drive for them."

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 10
Round 1: CAPPS (4.162 sec., 301.13 mph) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.210, 274.33)
Round 2: Mike Neff (4.264, 246.75) def. CAPPS (7.000, 90.68)

The DSR racing convoy of 19 rigs hits the highway Monday for its 1,689-mile jaunt back to headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind. The next NHRA event is the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals presented by on March 8-11 in Gainesville, Fla.

Race Facts

Final unofficial Funny Car standings:

  1. Mike Neff, 196
  2. Robert Hight, 154
  3. John Force, 150
  4. JACK BECKMAN, 137
  5. RON CAPPS, 125
  6. Courtney Force, 124
  7. Todd Lesenko, 102
  8. JOHNNY GRAY, 99
  9. Jeff Arend, 84
  10. Gary Densham, 83
  11. MATT HAGAN, 74