Capps, NAPA Shocks team suffers disappointing loss in first-round of U.S. Nationals, but No. 1 to start Countdown


Ron Capps had to quickly overcome disappointment Sunday after missing another opportunity to win his first U.S. Nationals title.

He was upset in the opening round at Lucas Oil Raceway when Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan ran off with the win when Capps’ NAPA Shocks Dodge Charger R/T lost traction just past the starting line.

“There was something wrong with the lane, but you can’t blame it on that,” said Capps, who qualified No. 3 for the rain-delayed event near Indianapolis. “We thought about switching lanes after (John) Force blew the tires off in the left lane right before we ran.”

“We don’t make excuses. Our car hasn’t done that since the fourth race this year in Vegas, and that was before Rahn Tobler came over to be our crew chief.

“It’s tough. We’ll focus. We won’t change anything. It’s still a great hot rod and Rahn has a great handle on the tune-up. It’s just unfortunate that with as much momentum we had coming into Indy that we couldn’t have added an Indy win to our year.

“It’s what makes Indy special. You need a little bit of magic. We’ll just have to wait until next year.”

Capps will start the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff as the top-seeded driver. Capps locked up the regular season championship when Robert Hight lost in the second round to Hagan.

“Everybody can focus on the Countdown now,” said Capps, who has won three titles in six championship rounds year. “I still feel like we have the best hot rod and best team at the track. It will be fun. There are a lot of cars that will run well like we saw this weekend. The Countdown will be fun.

(See below for details on the Countdown.)

The following are Capps results from the U.S. Nationals and other notes:

FUNNY CAR
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 4.049, 317.27

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3

SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
1st round: Matt Hagan (4.101, 307.04) def. CAPPS (5.699 sec., 156.34 mph)

FRIDAY (Aug. 31) QUALIFYING
Session 1: 4.122 sec., 308.00 mph
SATURDAY (Sept. 1) QUALIFYING
Session 2: 8.031, 87.65
Session 3: 4.064, 312.13
SATURDAY (Sept. 8) QUALIFYING
Session 4: 4.136, 282.95
Session 5: 4.053, 313.80

COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP

The fields are set for each of the four Full Throttle professional categories heading to the six-event Countdown to the Championship.

The points will be reset at 10-point increments for the Countdown contestants and the points leaders after Indy, which was the 17th event of the year, getting 20-point bonus so they will start the Countdown with 30-point leads in Top Fuel (Antron Brown), Funny Car (Ron Capps), Pro Stock (Allen Johnson) and Pro Stock Motorcycle Eddie Krawiec).

Only the top-10 drivers can contend for season championships but all drivers entered in the last six events will contend with Countdown drivers for event points and titles. The best season finish for non-Countdown drivers can be 11th.

SIX IN A ROW

Postponing the U.S. Nationals by one week means the Full Throttle series will now race on five consecutive weekends beginning next weekend with the first race in the Countdown at zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.

Factoring in last week’s rainout it actually means teams will have competed six straight weekends.

COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Points reset for six-event Countdown; DSR IN CAPS)

  1. RON CAPPS, 2,110 (includes 20-point bonus for leading regular season standings)
  2. Robert Hight, 2,080
  3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,070
  4. Mike Neff, 2,060
  5. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,050
  6. Courtney Force, 2,040
  7. Cruz Pedregon, 2,030
  8. John Force, 2,020
  9. Jeff Arend, 2,010
  10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,000

NEXT EVENT
Sept. 14-16, zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

Race Facts

NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Sept. 9, 2012, U.S. Nationals; DSR in CAPS)

  1. RON CAPPS, 1,268
  2. Robert Hight, 1,230
  3. JACK BECKMAN, 1,113
  4. Mike Neff, 1,100
  5. JOHNNY GRAY, 1,073
  6. Courtney Force, 948
  7. Cruz Pedregon, 893
  8. John Force, 875
  9. Jeff Arend, 838
  10. Tim Wilkerson, 829
  11. Matt Hagan 822