Ron Capps powered the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra to the provisional pole on Friday night at Brainerd International Raceway. The three-time and twice-defending Funny Car world champion clocked a 3.894 at 330.23 MPH time aboard his 11,000-horsepower machine during the second qualifying session to launch to the top of the field.
Capps’ race weekend at the NHRA Brainerd Nationals got off to an unusual start. As the Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli-led team staged the car for the first qualifying round, they noticed a wheelie bar issue and wisely opted not to make the run. When they returned for the second round, ready to put a number on the timing sheets, they were faced with another challenge. One of the cars in the pair that ran before them caused a massive oildown delay, leading to a nearly hour-long clean-up. As the sun was setting on the track, conditions drastically changed during that time but Antonelli is always quick to adapt and tuned the NAPA Supra to a powerful 3.894 E.T., which held up to be the best run of the session.
“It was interesting today,” said Capps, reflecting on the day’s two qualifying rounds. “It’s very rare that our NAPA team doesn’t make a run. I can’t thank the guys enough for catching what they caught in Q1 because it could’ve been dangerous, and could’ve potentially hurt me or the car. So, another great moment for our crew guys for being so on the ball.
“Guido and I talked a little bit before the second run, and he saw the weather tomorrow is going to be hot and he knew there wasn’t a chance of moving up,” explained the No. 2 ranked Funny Car driver. “He said maybe we’ll take it easy and just get down the track and make sure we’re qualified, but he also kind of wanted to go for it. That’s the mentality that he has, which I love. So, we had a little bit of a conversation, and I told him, let’s just go for it. By the time we pulled up to the line, I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but when I got to halftrack and the clutch locked up, I knew it was on a good run. When we got back, I asked him if he went for the pole, and he said no, I just ran what I thought the track would give us at that time. It just shows why Guido’s mentality of consistency is so important. We were first pair out after that oildown, so just an incredible job by Guido and our entire NAPA team. I also want to acknowledge Toyota. They give us so much help on the starting line. I can’t say enough about Slugger (Labbe) and his crew because we get data that I feel is, by far, so advantageous. Being part of the Toyota family has been such a great thing for us.”
Capps, a six-time Brainerd International Raceway event champion, will be seeking his second pole of the year and 38th overall on Saturday when qualifying resumes at 1:30 p.m. CT.
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