Make it a double for Ron Capps – as in two victories in a row.
The veteran nitro Funny Car driver claimed his latest win by taking the title at the Virginia NHRA Nationals Sunday near Richmond.
Capps, who pilots the NAPA Dodge for Don Schumacher Racing, clocked a 4.097-second elapsed time at 310.98 mph to defeat reigning world champion J.R. Todd, who went up in smoke right off the starting line.
“I got ready to roll up and I saw about 120 Kalitta members walking around up there and I was picturing the mosh pit,” Capps said. “I need to spoil the mosh pit. I don’t want to lose and watch the mosh pit at the starting line and I’m friends with a lot of those guys. It was impressive to watch them all walk in front of my car. I thought I don’t know if they do that to intimidate me or not. They had lane choice and to be honest with you, I was surprised they picked the left lane. We were in the staging lanes back there and Richard Hogan (Steve Torrence’s crew chief) came over and we were talking about the Montana Days and the Montana Express and he said he was picking the right lane and I knew we were getting put in the right lane and I just kept my mouth shut and I told the guys don’t say anything on the radio and just keep our mouths shut and just hope they stay over in the left. Not that I knew what was going on that the left was better or worse, but I knew if Richard Hogan is picking it (the right lane) it has to be darn good. Once the car started, they couldn’t switch lanes. I rolled it in there and it was vintage Rahn Tobler.”
Through six races of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Series season, Capps, the 2016 nitro Funny Car world champion, had only won five rounds in eliminations and had not won a race. Now, he has eight wins in a row, counting the previous event the Arby’s Southern Nationals in Atlanta and he has moved up to third place in the season point standings.
This was Capps’ 63rd career NHRA Wally – one coming in Top Fuel. He beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Tommy Johnson Jr., and Todd to reach the winner’s circle in Richmond for the first time.
Capps is fourth on NHRA’s all-time nitro win list behind John Force, Tony Schumacher, and Kenny Bernstein
“That’s the 30th win for (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and I just since 2012, which is incredible to me,” Capps said. “We qualified so well and we did have the one hiccup in Q3, the car quit down there, but it did break the belt and we were pushing to see how many runs we could get on our new belts, which were twice as many as the old belt and we were really happy with it. We gave up three points, but I talk about the time about trying things when we can under race conditions. Going into first round against Jim Campbell, you obviously have Jim Dunn (Campbell’s team owner) and he’s a legend for a reason, especially (Sunday) with the weather being hotter. Going up there and not make a mistake was my mindset. It went out there and went 3.99 and we got lane choice over Robert Hight.”
The second round in a battle against Hight was a pedal fest, as both Funny Cars smoked the tires almost immediately.
“If had a live microphone in my helmet you would laugh because I’m probably talking to myself, like don’t do this,” Capps said. “Both cars went right up in smoke and now you let off the gas and you have to wait for those Goodyears to slow, but you’re also listening to hear if the other car was in trouble, which it was. I thought, OK, here we go this is against one of the best guys there is in Robert Hight.
I waited what was an eternity in my mind, but still isn’t and I gave it another hit hoping it would hook up and take off and it didn’t. At the same time, I’m trying not to blow it up and over rev it. Each time you’re hitting it, it is like ice. Then I waited and said calm down and then I squeezed the throttle about an eighth of a throttle and the car just kind of took off and was just driving, it was like I tractor, it was a trip. I’m just driving along quarter throttle and I could hear him go one more whack and I could hear him on the gas. Then, I slowly started easing on to mine and it was just like driving a car and when I saw it was going to be hooked up, I was at halftrack I went all the way to the floor and it just took off. Then, it put a cylinder out and started driving me to the left, so I had full crank to the right and I could hear him out my side window and I didn’t want to look and it is already going toward the center line and I just wanted to get there and hopefully not cross and lose five points, which we did after the finish line, but I didn’t want to add insult to injury and DQ on that run. I went through there and hit the button on the steering wheel like I always do and as soon as I let off, I was right on the center line and he came flying by me. I didn’t have time to look at the guard rail for a win light, so I didn’t know until we got around the corner and they pulled him away from the TV people. Robert and I had a great talk about how fun that was.”
Capps traced the source of that victory to the fact Don Schumacher, his team owner, let him run a fuel altered at the March Meet.
“That so felt like one of those fuel altered runs, and the dirt car racing I’ve got to do over the years,” he said. “Those moments of driving those different cars helped in those moments (Sunday). Again, I can’t stress enough it is the tune-up because there are a lot of cars out here you could not do that abuse to because it would not stay together. It would probably have the body blown off at halftrack. You out all that together and it was nice to give the guys back something.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019