Rain Dampens Capps’ Hopes
Ron Capps suffered a setback in the quest for his first NHRA Funny Car world championship Saturday when he failed to qualify for the 16-car field during the rain-shortened 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.
Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, lost traction on his first qualifying attempt Saturday afternoon and was unable to gain traction just past the starting line on his second 1,000-foot pass to finish 17th.
“That’s how this sport goes sometime, especially when you only get two chances to qualify,” said Capps, whose last DNQ occurred in April 2012 at Las Vegas. Rain on Friday afternoon forced cancellation of the first two qualifying sessions, the fifth Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event lost to inclement weather this year.
Meanwhile, Top Fuel point-leader Shawn Langdon continued his remarkable 2013 campaign by shattering the track elapsed time record and earn pole position for the event near Seattle. Reigning Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman and former Pro Stock world champion Mike Edwards also will lead their categories as No. 1 qualifiers at the 16th of 24 series events. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Ironically, Capps was coming off his second national event victory of the season after winning last Sunday’s Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals. That win moved Capps up to second in the championship standings, 27 points behind former world champion Matt Hagan, one of Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammates. “This hurts because we had a chance to leave Seattle with the points lead,” Capps said, “but I know how good our NAPA Dodge is and we’ll be ready for the next race.”
Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a pass of 3.765-seconds at 320.58 mph to earn his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 10th of his career. David Grubnic ran an identical 3.765-seconds at 317.57 mph during the second qualifying session, but Langdon stayed in the top spot due to his faster speed.
Langdon, who won in Sonoma last weekend and has been the point-leader for the past three races, will meet Troy Buff in the opening round of eliminations. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage Sunday starting at 7 p.m. (EDT).
“That 3.76 is basically what we were trying to run out of the box,” said Langdon, who is seeking his first Top Fuel win in Seattle. “It surprised me a little, but I didn’t talk about it with Brian (Husen, crew chief) or Alan (Johnson, tuner) before the run. I saw all these 3.80s and 3.81s in front of us and thought, ‘We’re doing pretty good if it runs 3.79,’ so it was definitely moving.”
After qualifying No. 1 in Sonoma, Grubnic _ who remains in the hunt for the 10th position in the Countdown to the Championship _ qualified No. 2 in his Candlewood Suites dragster. Four-time Seattle winner Tony Schumacher put his U.S. Army dragster in the third spot with a strong 3.768-second pass at 319.29 mph. Langdon’s Al-Anabi Racing teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, jumped to fourth with a run of 3.781-seconds at 320.36 mph.
Defending event-winner Steve Torrence will face off with Spencer Massey of DSR in an opening round match of native Texans.
Langdon also scored his first career national event win as a Sportsman driver at Pacific Raceways in 2002. “I was getting my picture taken over by the winner’s circle and just thought it’s crazy that I got my first national event Wally here 11 years ago,” Langdon said. “I never would have thought I’d be in the position I’m in right now. I’m very fortunate.”
Beckman also broke the track E.T. record in Funny Car, powering his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger to a 4.049-second 1,000-foot pass at 303.64 mph. It was the first pole of the season for Beckman and ninth of his career. Beckman, who won in Seattle in 2007, will meet DSR teammate Johnny Gray in the first round. Gray, driver of the Pitch Energy Charger, currently is second in points and has scored a class-best four wins in 2013.
“This is our first pole since Maple Grove last year, but we’ve been near the top of the pack nearly every race,” said Beckman, who has yet to win in 2013. “We’ve got a lot of ground to make up in the points, but we just want a trophy right now. We want to win a race so bad right now.”
Robert Hight of John Force Racing qualified No. 2 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, running 4.056-seconds at 307.09 mph, and Del Worsham moved into third with a pass of 4.065-seconds at 303.84 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. Defending event champion Courtney Force of JFR qualified No. 8 in her Traxxas Mustang and will meet Alexis DeJoria in the opening round.
In Pro Stock, point-leader Edwards made his final qualifying run count, covering the quarter-mile in 6.526-seconds at 212.29 mph to break both ends of the track record in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro. Edwards earned the No. 1 spot for a 12th time in 2013, closing in on the Pro Stock record of 16 poles currently shared by Edwards (2009) and four-time world champion Greg Anderson (2004). Edwards, who was part of the final qualifying pair of the last session, will meet Deric Kramer in the first round of eliminations.
“We made a really good run that time,” said Edwards, who has two wins at Pacific Raceways. “I just have to give hats off to my guys. You never know what’s going to happen with two sessions. We were real conservative with the first run. We made some adjustments and made a really nice run. This Camaro is just running great.”
Rickie Jones, who ran 6.532-seconds at 211.49 mph in his Elite Motorsports Camaro, was bumped to the second spot as a result of Edwards’ track record, narrowly missing his first career pole. The No. 2 position is Jones’ best qualifying effort of his Pro Stock career.
Reigning world champion Allen Johnson qualified No. 3 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, running 6.533-seconds at 211.69 mph. Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile and Jason Line also clinched positions in the six-race Countdown to the Championship during qualifying.
“Conditions were good for both runs,” Edwards said. “My guys are doing a tremendous job and hopefully (Sunday) we can have a good, long day.”
Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways, the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel _ 1. Shawn Langdon, 3.765-seconds, 320.58 mph vs. 16. Troy Buff, 3.910, 304.05; 2. David Grubnic, 3.765, 317.57 vs. 15. Brandon Bernstein, 3.884, 313.51; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.768, 319.29 vs. 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.851, 317.19; 4. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.781, 320.36 vs. 13. Brittany Force, 3.846, 297.81; 5. Morgan Lucas, 3.790, 320.51 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.837, 312.64; 6. Antron Brown, 3.799, 315.42 vs. 11. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.835, 313.44; 7. Clay Millican, 3.811, 316.90 vs. 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., 3.833, 311.41; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.812, 319.07 vs. 9. Spencer Massey, 3.813, 320.13.
Did Not Qualify _17. Terry McMillen, 3.940, 309.27; 18. Ron Smith, 4.277, 261.17.
Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.049, 303.64 vs. 16. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.719, 175.82; 2. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.056, 307.09 vs. 15. John Hale, Chevy Impala, 4.539, 263.56; 3. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.065, 303.84 vs. 14. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.218, 284.75; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.067, 303.78 vs. 13. Todd Lesenko, Charger, 4.149, 291.76; 5. John Force, Mustang, 4.072, 304.32 vs. 12. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.113, 294.69; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.077, 306.33 vs. 11. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.105, 293.03; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.083, 302.35 vs. 10. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.100, 307.93; 8. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.085, 304.74 vs. 9. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.099, 297.88.
Did Not Qualify _ 17. Ron Capps, 5.058, 247.38; 18. Terry Haddock, 6.797, 110.77.
Pro Stock _ 1. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.526, 212.29 vs. 16. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.623, 208.42; 2. Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.532, 211.49 vs. 15. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.620, 209.98; 3. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.533, 211.69 vs. 14. JR Carr, Ford Mustang, 6.614, 208.04; 4. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.543, 211.49 vs. 13. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.611, 210.57; 5. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.560, 210.70 vs. 12. Steve Kent, Camaro, 6.606, 209.36; 6. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.561, 210.18 vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.595, 209.17; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.563, 210.57 vs. 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.592, 210.01; 8. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.566, 211.10 vs. 9.Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.578, 209.65.No Comment