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The Fun Continues For Capps

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 28 2016
Ron Capps captured the Funny Car pole for Sunday's NHRA race in Arizona.

Ron Capps captured the Funny Car pole for Sunday’s NHRA race in Arizona.

Riding the momentum of his season-opening victory at the prestigious Winternationals, Ron Capps secured pole position in Funny Car Saturday as qualifying concluded for the 32nd annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Chandler, Ariz.

Point-leader Capps set a Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park track record with a 1,000-foot run in 3.925-seconds at 320.50 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T _ just 0.005-seconds quicker than Courtney Force’s 3.930-second run on Friday. Capps, of Don Schumacher Racing, earned the 18th pole of his career and third at this Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

“I’m having more fun than I think I have, if not ever, than in a long time,” said Capps, two weeks removed from his season-opening win at Pomona, Calif. “I’m in better shape. I feel like I’m more enthused about showing up to the racetrack every day than I think I ever have been. I’m just enjoying this. This is a lot of fun right now.”

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. (MST) eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers in the second of 24 national events. FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage of eliminations from 5-8 p.m. (EST) Sunday.

Capps will face No. 16 qualifier Jeff Diehl in the opening elimination round. A three-time winner at the event near Phoenix, Capps’ last victory here was in 2013.

At the famed Winternationals two weeks ago in Southern California, the NAPA team qualified No. 2 and posted seven of its eight runs in the 3-second range. Three of Capps’ four passes at Wild Horse also have cracked the 4-second barrier.

Of more importance to Rahn Tobler _ who collected his 50th NHRA Wally trophy as a crew chief at the Winternationals _ the NAPA Dodge has completed each of its 12 runs this season under full-power, allowing him to compile a wealth of data.

“I’m so turned-on as a driver the way Tobler was able to step it up when he wanted to at Pomona and here,” said Capps, who has won 46 national events, including 45 in Funny Car. “I’ve been doing this a while and you certainly don’t want to get cocky. We’re not so naïve to think this is going to keep up. The competition is just too great out here. We’ll just take it; we’ll take the wins and this is a great No. 1 qualifier and sets us up for Sunday.”

Reigning world champion Del Worsham qualified fifth in the DHL Toyota Camry fielded by Kalitta Motorsports and will meet Jim Campbell in the opener. No. 2 qualifier Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS will race Terry Haddock. Two other intriguing first-round pairings feature past world champions Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon meeting one-on-one, while DSR teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and former two-time world champ Matt Hagan also will square-off.

In Top Fuel, Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.741-seconds at 320.74 mph in the final round of qualifying to earn his 44th pole and fourth at the Chandler track. Kalitta held off two-time/reigning world champion Antron Brown, whose improved time of 3.760-seconds at 322.65 mph in the Matco Tools dragster earned the second spot.

“What a weekend for this Mac Tools Red Line Oil Toyota team,” said Kalitta, who will have a first-round bye run due to a 15-car field, one short of a full ladder. “(Crew chief) Jim Oberhofer, Troy Fasching (assistant crew chief) and the entire Mac Tools team have been on their game this weekend. We’re looking forward to Sunday and hopefully crossing the finish line tomorrow.”

Point-leader Brown will open eliminations against Steve Chrisman. Five-time event-winner Tony Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, qualified third and will face Scott Palmer in Round 1.

Butner claimed his first career pole position in Pro Stock with a quarter-mile pass of 6.618-seconds at 208.88 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Sales Chevy Camaro SS from Friday. Butner’s KB Racing teammates _ two-time world champion Jason Line and four-time champ Greg Anderson _ qualified second and third, respectively, in their Summit Racing Equipment Camaros at 6.622/208.17 and 6.623/207.40.

“We’re really happy for Bo to get his first No. 1 qualifier. That’s a big deal,” Line said. Point-leader Anderson moved to third in the order via Saturday’s quickest run, his 6.623 in the heat of the day. Anderson will meet Vincent Nobile in the first round while Line will race Phoenix-based driver Matt Hartford in the opener.

In a ladder featuring only 14-cars, two under the traditional full-count, Butner will face V. Gaines, who qualified 14th at 6.778-seconds at 207.27 mph in his Kendall Oil Dodge Dart. The winner will earn a bye into the semifinals.

“It’s a dream. I grew up in Super Stock, Stock and Comp and I always wanted to be able to drive a Pro Stock car,” said Butner, a long-time Sportsman racer who leases a Camaro from KB Racing. “To be honest, I’m kind of surprised I’m sitting in this seat because our boss, Greg, really threw it at us and made a good run. It’s an honor and it’s cool; it’s cool to have a green hat (for qualifying No. 1).

“I’d like to get past V. and I’d like to get to the final and win. That’s our goal and that’s why we leave the house.”

Meanwhile, two-time/reigning world champion Erica Enders qualified No. 9 in an Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart that is undergoing on-the-fly development.  While Enders’ best elapsed time of 6.689- seconds was ninth overall, her speed of 208.26 mph was fourth-fastest this weekend.

“We went home from Pomona, and the guys worked really hard in the engine shop,” Enders said. “We certainly feel like we made moves in the right direction. We had the second-quickest mph (Friday), which is very encouraging, considering how new our Dodge engine program is.”

Enders switched from Chevrolet to Dodge in the offseason, and to comply with 2016 NHRA rules for the “Factory Hot Rod” class, the team built all-new fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. “We made some significant changes with our race car, and it’s just not happy right now,” Enders said. “There’s no other way to beat around the bush. Once we get our race car happy, things will be OK.”

Ironically, Enders will face an Elite Motorsports teammate in the first round for the second race in a row. She battled five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Dart at Pomona and will face No. 6 qualifier Drew Skillman Sunday. Skillman’s best pass in his Camaro was 6.650-seconds at 207.43 mph.

“That was literally run No. 22 on this car, and eight of those are qualifying runs at national events,” Enders said of her pass in the final qualifying session. “It’s pretty crazy to think that the car is that new.”

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 32nd annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.

Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.741-seconds, 326.00 mph vs. Bye; 2. Antron Brown, 3.760, 322.65 vs. 15. Steven Chrisman, 5.156, 144.35; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.764, 322.19 vs. 14. Scott Palmer, 3.990, 276.07; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.766, 322.96 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.935, 286.07; 5. Brittany Force, 3.769, 321.04 vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, 3.922, 317.12; 6. Clay Millican, 3.773, 322.96 vs. 11. Troy Buff, 3.869, 306.19; 7. J.R. Todd, 3.787, 323.12 vs. 10. Leah Pritchett, 3.859, 314.31; 8. Dave Connolly, 3.794, 317.64 vs. 9. Richie Crampton, 3.812, 309.98.

Funny Car _ 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.925, 320.89 vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 9.905, 41.37; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.930, 323.97 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, Solara, 4.191, 297.42; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.938, 323.81 vs. 14. John Hale, Charger, 4.105, 313.22; 4. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.945, 319.14 vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.086, 302.08; 5. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.959, 319.60 vs. 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.067, 305.56; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.959, 319.22 vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.026, 310.27; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.965, 318.77 vs. 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.990, 321.58; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.966, 317.19 vs. 9. Chad Head, Camry, 3.976, 317.64.

Pro Stock _ 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.618, 208.88 vs. 14. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.778, 207.27; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.622, 208.17 vs. 13. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.732, 206.48; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.623, 207.72 vs. 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.715, 207.59; 4. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.649, 207.11 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.713, 206.95; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.650, 208.62 vs. 10. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.699, 207.02; 6. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.650, 207.94 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.689, 208.26; 7. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.656, 208.46 vs. 8. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.664, 207.53.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 28 2016
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