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Ron Capps Sees Promising Performance at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Ron Capps’ bid for a third consecutive Funny Car win at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals came to an end in a close second-round race Sunday afternoon at Bristol Dragway. Capps qualified third in his NAPA AutoCare Toyota GR Supra before falling in the quarterfinals to J.R. Todd. The overall weekend performance showed Capps and his Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli-led team that the drastic changes they made in the early part of the season are paying off as the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series heads into the hot summer races. Capps leaves Bristol No. 6 in the point standings after eight of 20 races on the 2024 schedule.

Capps was one of several drivers who struggled to find traction in the first qualifying session on Friday, but crew chief Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli got the NAPA AutoCare entry back on track for the second session. Capps laid down a 3.976-second pass at 320.74 MPH to move up from ninth to third, while also earning a bonus point for making the third-best pass of the session. Capps maintained the No. 3 spot through two more qualifying sessions on Saturday.

The NAPA team’s strong performance carried over into the first round of eliminations on Sunday morning when Capps got a big starting line advantage over opponent Buddy Hull and maintained the lead with a winning 3.962-second pass at 323.12 MPH to Hull’s 4.176 E.T. In a second-round battle with fellow Toyota driver J.R. Todd, Capps ran quicker to the 60-foot and 330-foot marks, but he started to lose ground and finished second behind Todd. Capps ran a 4.001 E.T. at 316.45, while Todd recorded a 3.977 E.T. at 319.75.

“I’m so proud of Guido and our NAPA AutoCare team to go out there and compete like we did, to qualify as well as we did, and not only that, but to do it in completely different conditions like we did,” said Capps, the winningest Funny Car driver at Bristol with seven victories. “We qualified well in the Friday night conditions that we didn’t think we’d see the rest of the weekend. We went out and made a great run in the first round and got lane choice against a really good team, our Toyota teammate J.R. Todd and his team, in the quarterfinals. The fans got their money’s worth. It was a great side-by-side race, but we came up a little bit short. We’ve got a string of hot, summer races coming up and it gives me such confidence knowing Guido’s got a combination for that. I’m just so proud of these guys.

The next stop for Capps and the Ron Capps Motorsports Funny Car team will come in two weeks at the Virginia NHRA Nationals, June 22-23, at Virginia Motorsports Park outside Richmond.

This story was originally published on June 9, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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