NAPA Brakes team finds solace in loss to DSR teammate; final-round effort at Topeka moves Capps closer to No. 1


Ron Capps did all he could to get crew chief Rahn Tobler and his NAPA Brakes team a second consecutive victory in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Although Capps lost in the final round Sunday in the Dollar General NHRA SummerNationals, he was content that the team advanced to its fourth consecutive championship round and took a solid hold on second place in the series standings.

"It was such a great weekend. We don't want to keep harping on the stat, but this car has gone down the track 49 out of the last 50 runs without smoking the tires. That's unheard of," said Capps, who has won three times at Heartland Park Topeka.

"It's such a fun race car to drive right now. It's fun just showing up at the race track and learning how to elevate myself as a driver and help make this team better."

Capps was edged out of winning at Topeka by Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, who admitted to making a mistake on the starting line in the final that paid off.

Beckman was too aggressive approaching the starting line and engaged both starting line beams before Capps crossed the first one. Then Beckman "took a shot" that produced a near perfect and unheard of 0.004 of-a-second reaction time that enabled his 4.158-second run at 303.09 mph to defeat Capps' much quicker 4.107 (304.39).

"I heard Jack's car go and saw him light both (staging) bulbs. I though he got a red light for leaving too soon. He was just barely ahead of us and we were creeping up on him. I thought we had a chance.

"It was just a close race."

Capps said if he were to lose he was glad it was to Beckman's Valvoline NextGen crew that had been his crew before team owner Don Schumacher reorganized Capps' and Beckman's teams early last month.

While the switch paid off immediately for Capps, Beckman and new crew chief Todd Smith have worked hard to get past the first round since the change.

"I was proud – and I know Rahn and the crew was – to have those guys up there next to us," Capps said of the final. "All the DSR crew guys and drivers are so unselfish. If we had to lose it should have been to those guys because they've been through so much."

While Beckman's team moved from sixth to fourth in the Full Throttle championship standings, Capps team solidified its hold on the No. 2 position behind leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing.

It helped that Capps eliminated Hight for the third consecutive event; it was in the semifinals Sunday and for the title at Atlanta two weeks ago to become the first driver other than one for Force's four-car team to win a title this season. Capps also beat Hight last month near Houston to end Hight's personal 18-round, four-event winning streak.

Capps noted it was a compliment to the NAPA Brakes team that Beckman had to gamble at the starting line for a chance to win.

"We have such a great race car that to have guys feel like they have to go to the starting line knowing they have to take a shot for a chance to win makes you feel pretty good. If you have a bull's eye on your back that means you're doing stuff right.

"It's so much fun right now."

Capps had another regret about being the runner-up and not getting more interview time on ESPN2.

"We were trying hard to get two wins in a row for NAPA Brakes so we could get another chance to tell the fans watching on TV how important it is to check their brakes this time of year."

The way his team is going he's certain to get another chance real soon.

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 4
Round 1: CAPPS (4.093 sec., 310.55 mph) def. Jeff Arend (4.788, 176.03)
Round 2: CAPPS (4.123, 305.49) def. Johnny Gray (4.165, 306.19)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.120, 303.50) def. Robert Hight (5.139, 150.00)
Final: Jack Beckman (4.158, 303.09) def. CAPPS (4.107, 304.39)

QUALIFYING RUNS
FRIDAY
Session 1: 4.192 sec., 298.93 mph
Session 2: 4.078, 307.09
SATURDAY
Session 3: 4.156, 299.80
Session 4: 4.152, 300.66

NEXT EVENT
May 31-June 3: Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, Englishtown, N.J.

Race Facts

(Following eight of 23 events)

  1. Robert Hight 775
  2. Ron Capps 596
  3. Mike Neff 557
  4. Jack Beckman 491
  5. Cruz Pedregon 467
  6. Johnny Gray 438
  7. Bob Tasca III 419
  8. John Force 386
  9. Courtney Force 358
  10. Jeff Arend 355