Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team looks to regroup at April 13-15 Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX


Ron Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team did not qualify for the last NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event but if history repeats then good results await in the April 13-15 Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway's zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Capps did not qualify for the April 1 championship elimination rounds at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and unlike NASCAR, there are no provisional starting spots ... only the 16 quickest race on Sunday.

After not making the 16-car eliminations field at a race late last season, Capps roared back to win the next event title.

So Capps hopes his team's comeback trend continues in the unique four-by-four format at zMAX.

But Capps will have to do it with a new crew chief.

Team owner Don Schumacher restructured the crew chief lineup for his seven professional teams after Capps' crew chief Tim Richards resigned after failing to get the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T into elimination rounds at Las Vegas.

Schumacher moved veteran crew chief Rahn Tobler from Jack Beckman's Valvoline NextGen Dodge, which is ranked No. 3 in points, to the one driven by Capps, which is ranked eighth. Todd Smith has been hired to run Beckman's car but Tobler will continue to run that team for at least the next two races.

"It's a little like starting the season over," Capps said. "I've always admired Rahn and what he's accomplished and look forward to directly working with him."

As a crew chief, Tobler led Cruz Pedregon to the 2008 NHRA Funny Car world title and guided Shirley Muldowney to three series championships in Top Fuel Dragster.

This weekend's Full Throttle event at zMAX Dragway is one Capps circled on his calendar months ago.

That's largely because it is the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals when heats of four Funny Cars race at a time instead of the customary two. It is the most unique event of the year and one that Capps looks forward to.

"It's gotten to be a lot of fun. It's so different," Capps said. "If you let it be too big of a deal it can affect you as a driver. We just go up there and do what we know how to do, but it is very different."

In addition to the Four-Wide concept, Capps will have a very special NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member.

Martin Truex Jr., who drives the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS entry for Michael Waltrip Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will join Capps' team at zMAX on Sunday along with crew chief Chad Johnston and other crew members from the stock-car team.

The plan is for Truex and his teammates to fly to Charlotte after completing the Cup race on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

"It's neat that those guys are going to fly back right after they race to be at zMAX with us," said Capps, who was the Honorary Crew Member for Truex at the March 25 Cup race at Fontana, Calif.

"We won't have the luxury of putting Martin on a pit box like he let me do at his race, but we'll be able to get him up to the starting line," Capps said.

"Every time I get to do something with Michael (Waltrip) and Martin I get to brag about our NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car. One day, I want Martin to get in it and do a burnout and launch to feel 8,000 horsepower."

That won't happen this weekend.

Capps has more pressing matters like improving his No. 8-ranking and 4-3 elimination-round record.

CAPPS AT zMAX DRAGWAY: Wins (0); runner-ups (0)

FOUR-WIDE FOUR-MAT
The fifth of 23 events on the Full Throttle tour is the most unique of the season.

zMAX is the only dragstrip with four racing lanes and each lane will be used for each of our qualifying sessions (Friday and Saturday) and championship eliminations on Sunday.

The 16-car eliminations ladder in each of the three major professional categories will match as follows: Race A (qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16), Race B (qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13), Race C (qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15) and Race D (qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14)

Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on.

The first two drivers in each elimination heat to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.

FULL THROTTLE SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY: Qualifying, 2, 5 p.m.
SATURDAY: Qualifying, Noon, 3 p.m.
SUNDAY: Eliminations, Noon

ESPN2 SCHEDULE

Saturday: 5 p.m. (ET).
Sunday: 7 p.m. (ET).

Race Facts

Funny Car standings following 2 of 23 races:

  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