BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug.19, 2012) – Ron Capps enjoyed leaving the NHRA event near Seattle in 2009, and not just because he advanced to the championship round before losing to Tim Wilkerson.
Capps left Washington as the Full Throttle points leader.
It's always good to have the No. 1 feeling but it would be three years until he felt it again, and that happened on Sunday afternoon at Brainerd International Raceway.
Capps, who seeks the first world championship of his long career, ended a stretch of 75 events dating to the summer of 2009 when he sought but never reached the top perch.
The driver of Don Schumacher Racing's NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T got to enjoy that feeling when he moved into the points lead in the second round of eliminations. The feeling was even better after he won two more rounds to earn the 36th event title of his career.
"I'm just ecstatic about working with Rahn Tobler and how he approaches our race car," said Capps, who won a third title in six championship round appearances over the past 10 events with Tobler.
"It's just the way he approaches everything. I was calm and knew Rahn would race the track the way we needed to."
Tobler also won the Top Fuel title when he was crew chief for Shirley Muldowney at the first NHRA national event at Brainerd in 1982.
Capps earned the title by defeating John Force Racing's Courtney Force in the first round and her father, John Force, in the championship round. In between, Capps eliminated DSR teammates Johnny Gray in the second round and Matt Hagan in the semifinals.
After this season's fifth event and first working together, Capps and Tobler trailed Hight by 246 points and were seventh in the standings.
When the Full Throttle series arrives at Indianapolis for the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals, Capps will hold a 53-point lead over Hight.
"Don't discount the way Robert's car has been running," Capps said. "I know they've been testing (clutch packages). They're going to come back. They're going to be tough in the Countdown."
After Indy, the top-10 in points will contest for NHRA world championships over the last six events of the 23-race season.
Points totals for Countdown participants will be reset at 10-point increments but the regular-season points leader will receive a 20-point bonus that will give the driver a 30-point edge over No. 2 when the Countdown begins near Charlotte two weeks after Indy.
"Going in with the points would be cool and those 20 bonus points would be great to have once the Countdown starts," Capps said.
The following are Brainerd results for Capps and other notes:
Event winner: Ron Capps, DSR
No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman, DSR, 4.018 sec. (track record), 314.61 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5
First Round: First round: CAPPS (4.079 sec., 313.08) def. Courtney Force (4.628, 182.18)
Second round: CAPPS (4.112, 307.79) def. Johnny Gray (4.199, 297.55)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.105, 303.71) def. Matt Hagan (4.290, 242.41)
Final: CAPPS (4.134, 304.05) def. John Force (6.633, 116.35)
Session 1: 4.138 sec., 302.41 mph
Session 2: 4.779, 165.86
Session 3: 4.085, 306.53
Session 4: 4.062, 311.92
Aug. 29-Sept. 3, U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Aug. 19, Brainerd, Minn.; 16 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)