Ron Capps will start race day at Summit Motorsports Park from the No. 1 position, marking his first pole at the northern Ohio venue. The 2016 Funny Car world champion’s second qualifying run of 3.879-seconds at 329.18 mph stood strong through Saturday’s two qualifying efforts at the 13th annual NHRA Norwalk event and earned him his first No. 1 qualifier of 2019, and 23rd of his career.
Capps and the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car team were dominant throughout all four qualifying sessions at the famed facility. Before pacing the field with his Q2 run, Capps powered to the second-quickest pass of the opening session on Friday afternoon. Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler’s strong qualifying performance carried into Saturday and they continued to demonstrate their command on the stacked 20-car Funny Car field. In Q3 Capps blasted to the second-quickest pass of the round, and in Q4, threw down with a session-best 3.912 E.T., amassing ten out of the 12 possible bonus points up for grabs over the course of the weekend.
“Everyone went up there to throw down and take the No. 1 spot from us,” said Capps of the target he had on his back heading into the fourth and final qualifying round of the weekend. “There’s nothing better than putting our Hellcat No. 1 and picking the pocket of (John) Force’s and his Chevy. I know that was an extra fist pump for (team owner) Don (Schumacher) last night in Q2. And then today in Q4, we knew Force went 91 right in front of us and then when I turned the corner after making the Q4 pass, and the NHRA on FOX crew told me we had run a 3.912 and had snatched the three (bonus) points from Force, that was pretty cool.
“It’s just so much fun right now,” added Capps, a two-time 2019 event champion. “I don’t want to get cocky or overconfident, but Tobler definitely has had an extra pep in his step.”
The No. 1 qualifying position is Capps’ first since the 2018 NHRA Finals in November, and his 23 career poles rank 11th on the all-time Funny Car list. Impressive, but not quite the number one would expect from the second-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history.
“I’ve had a long, great career, but I don’t have a whole lot of No. 1’s. We’re not ones that run big speeds or go No. 1 a lot, but we’ve won a lot of races,” Capps explained. “So, when we do get a green No. 1 qualifier hat, it’s a big deal to me. But, I’ll take the race wins and the consistency over those No. 1s.”
As the No. 1 qualifier, Capps will have lane choice over No. 16 qualifier Bob Bode in round one of eliminations on Sunday as he begins his campaign for his third 2019 victory, 64th overall and second at Norwalk.
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Bob Bode
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)
Q3: 3.955 E.T. at 323.19 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.912 E.T. at 325.06 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Ten