It may be the second-fastest run in NHRA history, but as far as Ron Capps is concerned, his monumental blast of 339.28 mph on Friday at Maple Grove Raceway deserves its own place in history.
Capps shattered the track record at Reading with the epic run of 3.837-seconds, starting the Countdown to the Championship in resounding fashion in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
Capps just missed a record speed run, but in his eyes this may have been even more impressive than Robert Hight’s 339.87 from two years ago.
“Everything they’ve done since this new less grip track-prep era, it’s more of a feather in a cap. It means more now to go 3.83. It means more now to go 339 than it would have back then because we just don’t have the grip and track prep we used to have,” Capps said. “It’s more impressive from (crew chief Rahn) Tobler what he did, and I told him he exceeded anything that I thought we could do.”
Noted for their dead-on consistency race after race, Capps and Tobler wouldn’t be anyone’s first pick in predicting a run like Friday.
But instead of the Jimmy Prock-Hight combo or the Dickie Venables-Matt Hagan pairing, it was the veteran combo of Capps and Tobler who provided the biggest fireworks on Friday in Reading.
That was the case all night, too, as Capps went an eye-opening 3.849 at 329.75 during the first qualifying session. It set the tone that something special could be in the air on Friday.
“We ran 3.84 the first lap and not a lot of cars went down in front of us. It put a cylinder out at 800 feet, and still went 329 so we knew there was a lot there,” Capps said. “It paid off being at the back of the pack.”
Capps made the most of it after the team made some adjustments on the car during the home run night session.
He admitted the team went outside its comfort zone during the second run, but it certainly paid off, as Capps was the clear standout on Friday, earning six bonus points for making the best runs in each qualifying session.
As for the actual run, Capps’ Hellcat gave him all he could handle.
“We took the back spoiler down and that first run really gave us a chance to see what we could do,” Capps said. “It was really neat being in the car knowing what he was doing. But I knew it was going to be a handful.
“It was kicking and rattling so hard, and I could hear the RPM climbing, but to be honest with you I didn’t have a good view. It reminded a lot of when we set the record at Englishtown in 2012. I really knew it was on a good run and when they said ‘339,’ that was pretty neat.”
It would give Capps his second No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 24th in his career if it holds, but Capps is more concerned with trying to get his second world championship. That won’t be determined at Maple Grove, but Capps, who started the playoff fifth in points, knows full well what a strong weekend can provide and what a poor weekend can take away.
“Down there (at the top end), I felt like I won a race, but you don’t want to get too excited,” Capps said. “It’s easy to do when you qualify well. We’ve been in this position so many times, and I know we needed to get off on the right foot. I didn’t expect the right foot to be a 339, but Tobler is really in a different mood coming here. He’s focused, but it’s a long way to go. You can’t win the Countdown here in Maple Grove, but you can put yourself out.”