Funny Car racer Ron Capps rocketed to the provisional qualifying lead Friday evening at the 13th running of the NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. A two-time 2019 winner, Capps is seeking his first No. 1 qualifier of the season.
The Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car team started the weekend by unloading with a stout 3.965-second pass to earn the No. 2 spot at the conclusion of Q1.
When the Rahn Tobler-led team returned for Q2, they watched as driver after driver improved upon their earlier passes, shuffling the 20-car field. By the time the Pennzoil/NAPA team pulled up to the line they had been bumped back to the No. 9 spot. The team knew they would need to lay down a quick pass to break back into the top half of the field and better their chances at having lane choice come Sunday morning. Tobler turned up the wick, and Capps launched the Pennzoil Synthetics/ NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat down the track in 3.879 seconds at 329.18-mph to capture the provisional pole.
“That was a fun session. We saw all those cars make those throw-down runs,” said the 2016 Funny Car world champion who celebrated a birthday the day prior. “Tobler probably came back to the car to make adjustments more time than he ever has. John Force was early in the session, and we saw him run that 88, so Tobler made some out-of-the-box changes that were pretty different from what he usually does. We knew we were either going to go to the pole or smoke the tires, and that’s always fun. Big sigh of relief that it made it.
“Conditions here are always good when the sun goes down,” he added. “I think the fact that we were far enough back (in the qualifying order) and we saw some cars either make huge runs or not get down the track, Tobler could see what that lane was capable of.”
Capps, the 2016 Norwalk event champion, is hoping the Pennzoil/NAPA team’s Friday momentum will carry into race day and they’ll have an opportunity to put their one-off paint scheme in the winner’s circle.
“We’ve had so much fun running these special liveries with NAPA and Pennzoil, and this is such a fun scheme with the blue paint splattered back on it,” said Capps, who bagged the 2018 Seattle Wally trophy the last time he ran the Pennzoil/NAPA paint scheme.
“Anytime you get a sponsor like Pennzoil ask you to run a special car, you obviously want to do well for them. And to debut that car and win the race in Seattle was awesome and then to be No. 1 tonight, if we can win again in this paint scheme, that would be a great thing.”
Q1: 3.965 E.T. at 322.65 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.879 E.T. at 329.18 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Five