LAS VEGAS – A year after getting his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series four-wide victory, Funny Car standout Ron Capps hopes the debut of the format on the West Coast will lead to similar results.
In 2017, Capps won the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, leaving him comfortable and confident for this weekend’s 19th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which marks the first four-wide race in Las Vegas.
Capps hopes he can deliver another impressive performance in his 10,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, which would mark his first win of the season.
“As a racer, you love the excitement and without a doubt, I think you’re going to see two sold-out days,” said Capps, the 2016 Funny Car world champion. “It’s great seeing this type of excitement from the West Coast for this race and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Last year, getting a four-wide trophy was big, and this is going to be cool. They put down four new lanes and it’s an exciting time right now with NHRA.”
Las Vegas marks the fourth of 24 races during the 2018 season and despite some big changes before the year, Capps and his team – led by crew chief Rahn Tobler – are off to a solid start.
They made a major transition to the six-disc clutch set-up, but are further along than they even expected after advancing to two semifinals, including one in Gainesville.
Capps felt like they let at least one early-season win get away, but sitting fourth in points, the veteran standout believes the team is in a good place in a loaded class.
“It’s a completely different tune-up and set-up, so it’s been a good start and I feel like we’re ahead of schedule,” said Capps, who has 58 career wins. “We’re excited to be as good as we were the last couple races. I don’t feel like I’m talking out of school to say I see our team rattling off some wins real soon. I don’t see it being out of the question that we can rattle off wins like we did last year.”
Capps won at an impressive pace in 2017, winning four straight races at one point and finishing with eight wins overall en route to a second-place finish for the season.
That type of hot streak will be hard to replicate this year, especially against a loaded class that includes Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman, points leader Matt Hagan and defending event winner Tommy Johnson Jr., as well as defending world champion Robert Hight, Phoenix winner Courtney Force and class newcomer Shawn Langdon.
But those names are also just the tip of the iceberg in the star-studded class and Capps knows it. He sees incredible depth in Funny Car, one reason why strong early-season performances are necessary and why Capps is angling to have a big weekend.
“There’s so many good cars if you leave them out of the conversation they can bite you in a heartbeat,” Capps said. “The class has just continued to grow and it’s amazing how many full-time cars there are in Funny Car.
“I did a radio interview and I was asked to make a list of who is going to make the (Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship) and as you go down the list, you realize there’s way more really good full-time cars than spots for the Countdown. It’s going to be very interesting.”