Ron Capps raced to victory in his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T at the NHRA Carolina Nationals near Charlotte on October 14, 2018, capturing his third victory of the season and the 225th overall for a Mopar Dodge driver in NHRA Funny Car competition.
The win by Capps is also the eighth of the year for a Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car driver. His 60th career Funny Car win moved Capps up three spots to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings, injecting new life into his bid for a second career Funny Car World Championship.
The Mopar HEMI®-engine fueled NAPA Dodge Charger Funny Car star claimed 121 points over the course of the weekend. Along his way to the zMAX Dragway winner’s circle, Capps, the 2016 Funny Car Champion, defeated Dale Creasy Jr. and three of the top-ranked 2018 Funny Car championship contenders – Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd – in crucial matchups with major Countdown implications.
The milestone victory and 61st overall triumph (including one Top Fuel win) came after two disappointing consecutive first-round losses, but Capps and his Rahn Tobler-led team were determined to not let their early Countdown stumbles deter their hopes for the 2018 title.
With 321 points up for grabs in the final two events, Capps enters the next stop on the NHRA tour sitting 109 points out of first. The remaining events on the NHRA schedule are contested in Las Vegas and Pomona, California, two historically cooler-weather events, and Capps has confidence in crew chief Tobler’s cool weather tuning capabilities.
Two-time NHRA Carolina Nationals Top Fuel champion (2014, 2008) Tony Schumacher, driver of the Mopar-backed U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 6 and faced teammate Antron Brown for the 70th time in the first round. “The Sarge” recorded the low ET of the event with a hot 3.699/329.91 pass to take out Brown. In the second round, Schumacher knocked out Clay Millican with a solid 3.712/330.55 effort.
That victory set up a run against current Top Fuel points leader and No. 2 qualifier Steve Torrence in the semifinals. Schumacher’s 3.718/329.42 was quicker and faster than Torrence’s 3.728/328.38 run, but Torrence left the starting line first and was able to ride that advantage to a close holeshot win by approximately four feet.
Leah Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship in dramatic fashion last week at the NHRA’s Dallas stop and was looking to keep her chances alive to become the first woman in NHRA history to claim crowns in two different categories in the same season with a strong Charlotte performance.
Pritchett qualified in the top half of the field, claiming the No. 7 starting position in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster. The DSR driver trailed early in her first-round match against Richie Crampton but staged a comeback and was able to run him down with her quickest pass of the weekend, a winning 3.707/324.67. Next up was a critical quarterfinals battle against points leader Torrence. Unfortunately, Pritchett encountered all kinds of trouble, hazing the tires early and dropping cylinders as Torrence drove away for the round win and Pritchett watched a golden opportunity to improve her Top Fuel title hopes slip away.
Two-time NHRA Carolina Nationals event champion Matt Hagan, the No. 6 qualifier, drew No. 11 Shawn Langdon in round one. Hagan flexed his Mopar muscle by powering his DSR Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car straight down the groove in 3.891 seconds to take the win over Langdon, who smoked the tires. In the quarterfinals, the Mopar Express Lane driver posted another solid effort, but he gave up the win on an uncharacteristic holeshot loss, allowing opponent Tim Wilkerson to take the victory with a slower 3.910 ET versus Hagan’s quicker 3.903.
After securing his second consecutive Funny Car No. 1 qualifier spot, Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T team drew part-time racer Dave Richards in the opening round. Johnson was first to hit the throttle but was up in smoke right at the step and Richards was able to claim the upset win. Johnson’s DSR teammate, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT pilot Jack Beckman, was faced with a huge matchup against points leader Robert Hight in the opening round. “Fast” Jack and his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen/Neal Strausbaugh-led team mustered up a solid 3.906-second pass, but it wasn’t enough to take down Hight’s 3.877 E.T.
Current Top Fuel Points (After NHRA Carolina Nationals):
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Steve Torrence||2468||0||Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports|
|02||Clay Millican||2365||-103||Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster|
|03||Tony Schumacher||2303||-165||U.S. Army Dragster|
|04||Leah Pritchett||2244||-224||Papa John’s Dragster|
|05||Antron Brown||2221||-247||Matco Tools Dragster|
|06||Terry McMillen||2189||-279||Amalie Motor Oil Dragster|
|07||Doug Kalitta||2169||-299||Mac Tools Dragster|
|08||Mike Salinas||2150||-318||Scrappers Racing|
|09||Brittany Force||2140||-328||Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster|
|10||Scott Palmer||2117||-351||CatSpot/Tommy Thompson Motorsports|
Current Funny Car Points (After NHRA Carolina Nationals):
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Robert Hight||2387||0||Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS|
|02||J.R. Todd||2337||-50||DHL Toyota Camry|
|03||Tim Wilkerson||2254||-133||Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang|
|04||Tommy Johnson Jr||2251||-136||Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T|
|05||Courtney Force||2232||-155||Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS|
|06||Ron Capps||2215||-172||NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T|
|07||Matt Hagan||2175||-212||Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT|
|08||Jack Beckman||2172||-215||Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT|
|09||John Force||2168||-219||PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS|
|10||Shawn Langdon||2120||-267||Global Electronic Technology Toyota|
The next stop on the schedule is NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 25th to the 28th.