Ron Capps continued his quest for a fourth Funny Car world championship as the NHRA returned to Pacific Raceways near Seattle for the NHRA Northwest Nationals, the second of three Western Swing events. While he didn’t leave with the hardware, the No. 2 ranked driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra made up valuable ground on the current points leader.
Capps rocketed to the top of the timing sheets during the weekend’s second qualifying session with a run of 3.961 seconds at 322.81 MPH. His time was the quickest of the round, garnering him three bonus points, and also enabled him to drive past Matt Hagan to win the first round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. In the final qualifying session and second round of eliminations for the Mission Foods specialty race, Capps faced his Toyota teammate J.R. Todd and used a 3.951-second pass to defeat him and win his third #2Fast2Tasty Challenge of the season. With the wins, Capps has picked up a total of 11 Countdown to the Championship bonus points.
In eliminations, Capps, the No. 3 qualifier, faced Jeff Diehl who he has defeated 11 times on race day. Diehl lost traction at the start of the run and while Capps also lost traction, he was able to pedal the car to get the round win. The second round pitted Capps against eventual race winner Tim Wilkerson. The twice-defending world champ grabbed an early starting line advantage but he quickly smoked the tires as Wilkerson sailed to the win.
“Another Seattle race weekend in the books, and what a great race for the fans. Our NAPA car had a great weekend as well,” said Capps, a four-time Pacific Raceways winner, including his sole Top Fuel victory from the 1995 event during his rookie season. “Anytime we can qualify where we did and then come back in the heat of the day on Saturday, and go low E.T. and grab some of those small points, it’s a great feeling and to win the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge is huge. We will take that.
“We were pretty confident we could go down the right lane today on race day,” Capps added. “Guido (crew chief Dean Antonelli) was pushing pretty hard, but we didn’t feel like we were pushing so hard that we couldn’t get down the track. That is what I love about our NAPA team. The ‘Get Up and Go’ that they have. It’s a great race car.”
Capps entered race day sitting 37 points behind Hagan, who was eliminated in the first round. Between his qualifying bonus points and first-round win, Capps narrowed the margin to a slim 17 points. From Seattle, the NAPA team heads to Sonoma Raceway next for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 28 – 30, and Capps is looking forward to closing out the Western Swing strong at a facility that he considers to be a home track.
“I’m looking forward to one of my favorite times of the year, which is the Sonoma race. Lots of friends and family come out. That Friday night is one of the coolest Friday night qualifying sessions we will see, and we’ll be ready to throw down.