Capps hits the road with NAPA team en route Summernationals ready to start a new winning streak, extend Mello Yello points lead
Ron Capps couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up the most successful five races of his championship career than by hopping into one of Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS technology rigs to ride from Epping, N.H., to this week’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near New York City.
Capps capped a four-race winning streak by advancing to the semifinals of Sunday’s New England Nationals, and joined his NAPA AutoCare crew for the 300-mile ride south to Englishtown, N.J., where the NHRA Summernationals begins on Friday.
“It’s a bummer the streak is over, but with the competition now in Funny Car, winning 17 rounds in a row like we did is pretty amazing,” he said.
To celebrate to run and get ready to start a new one, Capps rode shotgun with crewmen and semi drivers Tyler “Otis” Troxel and Terry “Sweet Chuck” Prososki when not riding in the luxury of the team’s Dodge Durango from Epping to Englishtown.
“It’s been a fun & very memorable last 5 races for our NAPA AUTO PARTS team,” Capps posted on his Facebook.com page. “While we lost in the semifinals Sunday, (crew chief Rahn) Tobler & the guys learned some very valuable things that are going to make our racecar even stronger the remainder of the season.”
Capps was able to maintain his points lead, but the margin was cut by 40 to 79 when DSR teammate Matt Hagan won his third title of the year through nine races. Third-place driver Courtney Force trails Capps by 263 points and Hagan by 184 with seven regular-season events left before the field is cut to the top-10 for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff and 30 points will separate the top-2 seeds.
Englishtown is the second stop on Eastern Swing that includes four events in four weekends. The grueling stretch was nearly perfect a year ago for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team that won three of four titles to catapult Capps to the regular season championship and on to his first world championship.
Last year in the Summernationals, Capps won the pole and defeated DSR teammate Jack Beckman for the event title.
With four wins this year in nine races, Capps is ahead of his championship pace but knows momentum can change with nine regular-season races remaining.
“We really feel like we can get right back and get back on top and keep rolling in these points. They’re important right now. We obviously want to win the regular season, but just to take these rounds early in the year has been a lot of fun.”
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T – reigning world champ
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 1st 9 4 1 2 1 1 0 0 23-5
CAREER 492 54* 51 91 99 179 21 19 649-419
* 53 FC/1 TF
Best Time, Speed: 3.839 sec. (2017, Phoenix); 333.58 mph (2017, Phoenix)
Last event (June 2-4, Epping, NH): Qualified No. 3, lost in semifinals to Courtney Force
A year ago at Englishtown: Qualified No. 1, won in championship round over Jack Beckman
Career at Englishtown: Wins 2 (2006, 2016), Runner-ups 3 (2003, 2005, 2012), Poles 2 (2012, 2016)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Epping; 9th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (4) 827 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 748 -79
3. Courtney Force 564 -263
4. Robert Hight 561 -266
5. John Force (1) 555 -272
6. JACK BECKMAN 537 -290
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 533 -294
8. J.R. Todd 413 -414
9. Tim Wilkerson 393 -434
10. Del Worsham 341 -486