Ron Capps and the NAPA Filters Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car team wasted zero time as they began their campaign for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world championship title, throwing down the gauntlet with a record-setting run on Friday night to earn the pole at the first race of the Countdown to the Championship.
The 2016 Funny Car world champion blasted to a 3.837 E.T. at 339.28 mph under the lights at Maple Grove Raceway during Friday’s second qualifying session, obliterating both ends of the Reading, Pa. track record. The run was the first 339 mph NHRA pass since a 339.02 was recorded during the 2017 Reading event and the second-fastest run in NHRA history. Capps’ impressive performance during the second round of qualifying for the MOPAR Express Lane NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil stood strong throughout Saturday and earned him the top spot among a loaded Funny Car class.
Before capturing the pole on Friday night, Capps and the Rahn Tobler-led NAPA Filters team unloaded with a best-of-class 3.849 E.T. during Q1 and solidified their position as a major threat when they closed out qualifying on Saturday evening by posting a 3.877 E.T., the second-quickest run of Q4.
“We feel great going into race day,” said Capps, who raced to the Reading winner’s circle in 2017. “Starting from the No. 1 spot today allowed us to test a little bit in Q3, and then typical Rahn Tobler, we went back up there for Q4, and he’s looking at points. We were surveying what everybody ran, and he was waiting to see what the quickest run was in front of us. We saw Bob Tasca run a 3.86 and we thought we could outdo that, but Tobler wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the run. We did a little test mode on Q3, and it shook, so I’m sure that Q4 run was him just getting down the track.
“Sunday is going to be such a different day; sunny, mid-80s, it’s going to be similar to what it’s been the past two years here,” remarked Capps of the drastically different weather conditions forecasted for race day. “But, I always brag about Rahn Tobler and his NAPA Know How, and how he is so good at adapting to conditions, and we’ll need every bit of his adaptability tomorrow. If you walk around the pits right now, you’d see a lot of parts coming off of cars and changes being made because the conditions will be so different than what they’ve been all weekend.”
Capps, who started the Countdown ranked fifth, earned eight bonus points for his stout performance throughout qualifying, putting him one step closer to his ultimate goal of a second Funny Car world championship.
“That 339 and these good numbers are all for naught if we don’t have a good Sunday. Really, Sunday is what counts, but we’ll take these eight qualifying bonus points because that right there is almost a whole position gained. Those Mello Yello points, they’re important, championships can be won or lost on those little points.”
Capps will start race day from the No. 1 spot for the 24th time in his career and second time in 2019. He will face No. 16 qualifier Mike McIntire Jr. in round one as he begins his crusade for a second Reading victory, and fourth of the season.
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Mike McIntire
Q1: 3.849 E.T. at 329.75 MPH (Three points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.837 E.T. at 339.28 MPH (Three points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 7.221 E.T. at 93.26 MPH
Q4: 3.877 E.T. at 332.34 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Eight