Capps dismayed, bewildered over malady that kept NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge from qualifying at Vegas

Ron Capps' daughter, Taylor, always has been a good-luck charm for her dad at races. But not even Taylor's magic could help his NAPA AUTO PARTS team solve a mysterious malady with its Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car the past two days.

For the first time this season but second in the last seven NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS team will not be racing on Sunday in championship eliminations of the Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Capps wasn't unable to get the car past about 300 feet on each of four runs before it would smoke the tires during the fourth of 23 national events.

"It would get out there at the same spot and a quick, violent rattle would send the car into tire smoke," Capps said.

"You can almost overlay all the computer data from each run and the same thing happens even though Tim (Richards) made humongous changes."

Capps and crew chief Tim Richards have combined to compete for more than half a century of drag racing but neither could find the demon that took hold of their Dodge.

Other Don Schumacher Racing crew chiefs came by the NAPA AUTO PARTS pit to lend a hand but all were stymied.

"It hurts me a little bit because there's something there that isn't simple. We had other DSR crew chiefs come over and look at it. I have the utmost confidence in Tim; I was sure we would get down the track on the last run.

"After Friday's two runs we knew something was wrong with the car. I could see the angst on Tim's face when he was trying to figure out the problem so he could fix it.

"It shows you how tough this sport is. When you have a decorated crew chief like Tim Richards and what I consider one of the best crews on the grounds it's hard to believe that we had four shots and couldn't qualify."

In NASCAR stock-car racing, the top 35 in points are guaranteed starting slots in the 43-car fields.

It isn't that way in NHRA drag racing; if you're not one of the 16 fastest cars you don't race on Sunday.


The last time Capps and his team didn't advance to championship eliminations was last fall at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix.

That occurred in the six-event NHRA Countdown playoff and virtually eliminated him from contending for his first NHRA world championship.

"It's a reminder of how difficult this can be even with a great team and a great sponsor like NAPA," said Capps, who has not qualified only 16 times in 367 NHRA national events.

While Capps was disappointed he remains confident his NAPA AUTO PARTS team will qualify for the six-race Countdown playoff.

"I love this track. It's been very good to me."

He started the Las Vegas weekend ranked sixth in season points at the track where he won the event title last fall after not making the show near Phoenix.

"We'll find the problem, fix it and move on. Things like this happen."

A hug by Taylor helped ease his pain.

"Even her good luck couldn't help us overcome what we were fighting," he said.

No. 1 qualifier: Robert Hight, 4.132 sec., 310.98 mph

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 21 (did not qualify)
Session 1: 6.689 sec., 92.68 mph
Session 2: 7.315, 88.03
Session 3: 7.647, 68.39
Session 4: 6.024, 114.16

Sunday: High 68, partly sunny

SUNDAY, April 1
10 a.m.: Pre-race ceremonies
11 a.m.: Championship eliminations begin

SUNDAY, April 1
7-10 p.m. (ET): Championship eliminations

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