Ron Capps, who was hotter than the summer weather just a few weeks ago is back on fire after taking his NAPA Auto Parts Charger to the top of the Funny Car qualifying sheets on Friday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Capps opened the day with a 3.965 but Rahn Tobler turned the screws just right for Q2 to create the pole winner and displace longtime rival John Force from the No. 1 spot.
Force, still looking for career win No. 150, didn’t get a full run in Q1, but the Peak Chevy went wire to wire under header fire in Q2 with a 3.884 that held the lead for a few minutes.
Behind Capps and Force are Jack Beckman (3.914), Blake Alexander (3.921), world champ J.R. Todd (3.927), Tommy Johnson (3.928), Bristol winner Bob Tasca III (3.931), Tim Wilkerson (3.935), Robert Hight (3.938), Paul Lee (3.954), and Matt Hagan (3.975), making for 11 three-second qualifiers on the opening day.
Beckman, a three-time winner at this event (2009, 2005, and 2017) grabbed the early qualifying lead in the opening session with a 3.955 in the Infinite Hero Dodge, a run that led a quint of three-second passes with on Capps (3.965), Tasca III (3.973), Wilkerson (3.980), and Alexander, who won this event last year in Top Fuel, at 3.982.
A number of other drivers also ran quick in Q1 with Shawn Langdon clipping off a 4.009, Matt Hagan a 4.056, and Paul Lee an impressive 4.082 at just 258 mph after losing the blower belt at 800 feet.
Jeff Diehl, who sat out the opening session, kicked off the evening session with an explosive pass in his Nitro Surfer Toyota, experiencing an engine explosion at the end of a 4.23 pass that nonetheless got him into the field for the time being.
Bob Bode also had a wild qualifying run, hitting the guardwall on a nice 4.09 pass alongside Dale Creasy's equally-fine 4.03 effort.
FUNNY CAR LOW QUALIFIER RON CAPPS: “Those are great conditions. [Rahn] Tobler probably came back to the car more times than he ever has making adjustments. Conditions here are always good when the sun goes down. He put the rear spoiler down. All kinds of things that are outside of his normal routine. It was great to see that we were either going to go to the pole or smoke the tires. That’s always fun. It actually got out there and move hard to the right on me. I thought it had a cylinder out for a second. I turned the street wheel to the left and it came back. Ran to the finish line thinking it was going to be an okay run and they came on the radio saying it was 3.87. That was a big sigh of relief.
“That was a fun session to watch. To see all the cars keep throwing down and throwing down. By the time we got up there we weren’t even in the top half. I should be a little overcast tomorrow but you never know. It could cool off enough and we could see conditions get good enough that you could run a high 3.80 tomorrow. I hope not. I hope it’s sunny and 97 degrees out tomorrow.”