A resurgent Ron Capps overcame the disappointment of not qualifying for the last NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event in Las Vegas two weeks ago to race to the qualifying lead in the Funny Car category on the first day of qualifying for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway on Friday.
The other current No. 1 qualifiers are Summit Racing driver Jason Line in Pro Stock and Capco Contractors Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence.
Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to the top of the class with a run of 4.105 seconds at 301.81 mph. Capps has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying this position season but has 11 in his 368 race career. The provisional No. 1 run comes off a recent addition of Rahn Tobler as crew chief for the team.
“I told someone today that I was probably the most nervous I've been in a long time because that car had been down the track I think 19 runs in a row before the first run today, and the car didn't change much. So then I'm thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, if it doesn't go down and it's been down the track this many times, what does it say about me in the car?' And then on top of it, you have the four wide, so you have all that stuff going on, and then on top of that, you have my teammate Matt Hagan making the highlight reel in front of me, and we had to sit for another half hour,” said Capps. “I just wanted to get that first run over with, so when it went down the track, it was such a huge relief.”
Line, the 2011 Pro Stock champion and Charlotte resident, powered his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP to the lead in the factory hot rod class with his 6.493-second pass at 213.91 mph. Line's speed of 213.91 mph set the national speed record for Pro Stock.
"That was a good run, but it wasn't a great run. I don't want to sound spoiled, but we left a little bit on the table on the starting line and a little bit more on downtrack,” said Line about his first run of the day. “On the second run, the car shook the tires a little less than the first and did a little less of a wheelstand, but it still wasn't perfect. We're sneaking up on it. When I ran 213.91, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to skip right over 213 mph and go 214. We were so close."
In Top Fuel, Torrence racing his Torrence Racing/Capco Contractors dragster recorded a career-best speed of 322.34 mph during his 3.799-second run. If he remains in the No. 1 qualifying position on Sunday, it will be the first of his 53-race career and a boost for this family run team.
“We had a good car coming into this race, and I was really pleased with the first round. We went .94 when a lot of teams weren't making it down through there, so I had a lot of confidence in my guys. We made it through half-track and just drove it right back into the groove and laid down a good number,” said Torrence. “[Outrunning the multicar teams] is a big achievement because those guys have a lot of data, lots of run, and lots of experience among them, so to come out, run a few races last year, and show up at the first of the season and consider yourself a competitive team, that's a big achievement.”
Qualifying for the third annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals continues for the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday with eliminations taking place on Sunday.
Danny Rowe powered his Sterling Bridge '67 Camaro to the top of the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx qualifying order.
Rowe raced to the current No. 1 qualifying position during the first of the two sessions with a run of 5.874 seconds at 247.97 mph. If it holds going into eliminations on Saturday afternoon, it will be the fourth career No. 1 qualifying position for Rowe. Gainesville winner Rickie Smith qualified in the fourth position with his 5.934-second pass at 242.36 mph run, Brad Brand is currently second at 5.918 seconds at 248.84 mph, Leah Pruett sits in the third position at 5.934 seconds 249.95 mph, and Mike Castellana rounds out the top five at 5.967 seconds at 241.80 mph.
The third and final qualifying session for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the first round of eliminations to take place at 4 p.m.