Ron Capps started the 2019 NHRA Countdown to the Championship perfectly. The driver of the NAPA Filters Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat earned six bonus points and claimed the provisional Funny Car pole at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil with a track-record setting 3.837-second pass at 339.28-miles-per-hour.
He made the quickest lap of the first session, running 3.849 at 329.75 and earning three bonus points after rain shuffled the schedule. Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler's encore was even more impressive. The NAPA team broke both ends of the Maple Grove track record while running the fastest speed since Robert Hight broke the national speed record in 2017.
That moved Capps, who started the NHRA Countdown in fifth place, a little closer to his ultimate goal of bringing home a second championship. He is trailed in the qualifying order by Bob Tasca III (3.898) and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (3.905).
Defending world champion J.R. Todd made the second-quickest pass of the first session and held on for the No. 4 spot with a 3.916 hit. His Kalitta Motorsports teammate did not do quite so well.
Shawn Langdon struggled to start his second NHRA Countdown as a Funny Car racer. The Global Electrnic Technology team made two runs with double-digit elapsed times as the multi-time world champion experienced massive tire shake on both occassions. He sits outside of the 16-car field with a 12.067-second time.
John Smith holds the bump spot at 8.690. The top half of the field is set by Terry Haddock, who made a solid run (4.094). The bottom half of the field failed to make it down the track, as a cool surface proved challenging for the Funny Car competitors to navigate.
The second day of qualifying at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil begins at 12:45 p.m. with Pro Stock Motorcycle. Qualifying wraps up with the fourth session at 3 p.m. Eastern. Race day is slated to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. You can catch all the action on FS1 and NHRA.tv.