Ron Capps won his third Funny Car title in a row at the NHRA Southern Nationals in May. Here is what the Mopar® racers and officials had to say.
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.955 seconds at 323.97 mph)
“It’s a pinch-me moment. I mean I’ve got such a great team right now. It’s cliché to hear that, cliché to say it — a lot of people say it — but I think our fans understand. The car speaks for itself here lately. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and Eric (Lane), our assistant crew chief, those two together are the dynamic duo.
“This was probably one of the more difficult racetracks to navigate. There are some bumps that are still at this racetrack now. I’m not ripping on the track, it gives it character, but it was very, very hard to navigate this track and you really had to be ready for two or three different sets of bumps. As a driver, with the front ends the way they are and the laid-back headers, it’s lifting the front end and carrying it half a football field at a time and bouncing it. It makes for an exciting run, but at the same time, you’re just hoping the car stays in the middle of the groove, which ours did.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.930 seconds at 325.45 mph)
“It was a very unfortunate semifinal round loss against Wilkerson. We had a piece on the canon that was not tight so it was bleeding fluid back and it had some oil in the belly pan when we rolled up there and, unfortunately, we didn’t know about it. You know, just one of those things. We should have caught it but didn’t, so we’ll learn from it.
“We’ll go to Topeka knowing what happened. Unfortunately, we should have been in the finals against Capps. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, but we just didn’t. We had a good racecar today. It was running great first and second round and it ran great yesterday. But, things happen and you move forward. I think we’ll be just fine in Topeka. It was just a little painful because the car would have gone down the racetrack. That’s racing and that’s life.”
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA – Global
“Congratulations to Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps on winning the NHRA Southern Nationals. We couldn’t be more proud of Ron and everyone involved with our motorsports program. The success the Mopar and Dodge brands have had on the track this year is a direct result not only of our great drivers, but also hard work behind the scenes.”
Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 11 Qualifier – 3.862 seconds at 304.05 mph)
“We showed we can get to the semifinals whether it’s from the No. 1 qualifying spot or the 11th, like this weekend. That was our worst qualifying effort all year. We didn’t get to run Friday and had troubles on Saturday, but my great team got the gremlins out after that and we started today by winning and setting a new track elapsed-time record.
“In the (semifinal) round against (Steve) Torrence, I nailed him on the starting line but that lane had a bump that we were able to get around in the first round without upsetting the (car). There isn’t anything my guys could have done about that. That bump ruined our day because we had the quickest car.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 14 Qualifier – 5.584 seconds at 124.27 mph)
“It’s frustrating. Our short-term goal is to hold a trophy up at the end of race day. It was tough in qualifying, where we only had two runs and never made it past two hundred feet. To come back first round and not only run well but take out our teammate in the Make-A-Wish car, I thought we were on the right track.
“We went out there and didn’t have lane choice second round. It was a little warmer track and it hits that bump. It’s really hard to get the car over that bump without slowing so much that you’re not going to outrun the other car. We were playing a little bit of Russian roulette and it just caught up with us that run. We’ll probably stay here and test tomorrow. We’ll take a week off and the guys will have some time to look at the data. We’ll get everything fresh and serviced. We’ll go to Topeka with some great attitudes and a great outlook.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.937 seconds at 319.29 mph)
“It wasn’t the best three-race swing we’ve had in a while but it’s showing signs of encouragement. (The car) hit the bump out there and came loose. We’re confident that we’re close to running really well again. It’s just a matter of a few more runs and we’ll be there.
“We’ll come out to Topeka with the right calls and, hopefully, go right down through there. I think the car is right on the verge of performing where it has been, and we weren’t that bad off to begin with.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.736 seconds at 325.45 mph)
“(Steve Torrence) made a great run. He made a good light and he made a good run, and he won the race. It’s all good and the big picture looks great. We’re going rounds and we’ve got a good car. There are a handful of good cars out there and we’re getting around some big boys and we’re gaining back the ground we lost in the championship.”
In two weeks, the NHRA national event calendar shifts from the Southeast to the center of America for the 29th annual NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka on May 19 – 21.
Mopar driver Matt Hagan set the national record for Funny Car speed on his way to the win last year at Topeka with a pass of 335.57 mph, then matched that speed during this year’s season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Ron Capps also has three wins in Funny Car in Topeka, while Tony Schumacher has claimed one Top Fuel victory.
The NHRA Heartland Nationals will be broadcast throughout the weekend on FOX Sports 1, with Sunday’s elimination rounds LIVE on the network at 2 p.m. ET on May 21.
For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, http://blog.mopar.com.
2017 NHRA Championship – Point Standings After Round 7 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 633
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 539
3. John Force (1) – 490
4. Robert Hight – 437
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 427
6. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T – 426
7. Courtney Force – 405
8. Tim Wilkerson – 329
9. J.R. Todd – 326
10. Jonnie Lindberg – 318
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Leah Pritchett, Mopar Hemi® (3) – 641
2. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 627
3. Steve Torrence (2) – 592
4. Antron Brown (1) – 560
5. Doug Kalitta – 486
6. Clay Millican – 385
7. Brittany Force – 347
8. Terry McMillen – 301
9. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 295
10. Scott Palmer – 244