Ron Capps' pursuit of his first NHRA Funny Car world championship recently prompted him to network with a driver familiar with the art of closing the deal, times five.
"I've called my buddy Jimmie Johnson up and talked to him," said Capps, referring to the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and fellow Californian. "You kind of go, 'Aaah. There's no definite answer. You just show up and do the best at what you can do.' I think what we've done in the past here with [crew chief] Rahn Tobler and my team, if we keep doing that we're going to be fine."
Seeded No. 1 among the 10 Funny Car drivers competing in the NHRA's six-race Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, Capps posted his fourth victory of the season at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., on Sunday. Capps, of Don Schumacher Racing, defeated driver/tuner Mike Neff of John Force Racing in the rain-delayed final to extend his lead over Neff and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang from 30 to 73 points (2,230-2,157).
Round 2 of the Countdown will begin with two sessions of qualifying today for the 27th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Billy Meyer's Texas Motorplex in Ennis.
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Capps has finished second three times in the final Funny Car standings since becoming a full-time professional racer in 1997, an era dominated by 15-time world champion John Force. But Capps believes Tobler has the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T completely dialed-in.
"Believe me, I don't take anything for granted," said Capps, a 47-year-old resident of Carlsbad, Calif. "When we're running good, I'm the last guy talking smack. Those wins, you take them, put them in your pocket, you thank God you got to go to the winner's circle because it's so tough to do that nowadays. You don't get cocky. You can't say, 'Man, look at me.' You just got to stay focused."
Defending event winners at The Plex are Bob Vandergriff Jr. (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle). Line, a two-time world champion, claimed his second win of the season Sunday in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Line moved to within three points of leader Allen Johnson and his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger (2,209-2,206).
In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing took advantage of No. 1 seed Antron Brown's first-round loss to post his first career victory at the expense of seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher and his U.S. Army dragster. Fort Worth's Spencer Massey, a four-time winner this season in the FRAM/Prestone dragster, is 10 points (2,170-2,160) behind "The Sarge," his DSR teammate.
Andrew Hines, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, scored his fifth win of the season when he defeated teammate Eddie Krawiec in a matchup of Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rods. Krawiec, the two-time/reigning world champ, leads PSM by 10 points (2,215-2,205) over Hines.
John Sturbin is a Senior Writer at RacinToday.com. He can
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