Capps turns own program around, turns back JFR streak

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Don Schumacher's hunch paid off.

The multi-car team owner juggles more drag-racing personnel and resources than a circus performer, but his Ron-and-Rahn act is playing well to National Hot Rod Association fans. In the Funny Car ring at Sunday's Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals, it was a huge hit for the Atlanta Dragway crowd.

With crew chief Rahn Tobler injecting hope and effective tuning calls into Ron Capps' struggling career, the two did more than bring the NAPA Dodge Charger team a victory for the first time since last Halloween weekend at Las Vegas.

In this third straight final round since they were paired in the pits, the Capps-Tobler combo became the first in the class to halt John Force Racing's string of six victories to start the season.

They did it as Capps gave a wire-to-wire performance on the 1,000-foot course in 4.166 seconds at 303.91 mph against the 4.399 / 273.44 of Robert Hight, who had won four of this year's seven titles -- the ones teammates John Force and Mike Neff didn't grab.

 

It marked Capps' first victory at the Commerce, Ga., facility among his four final-round appearances here and 34 overall triumphs. (Capps' first final round ever came at Atlanta Dragway in 1995, when he was an NHRA rookie driving a Top Fuel dragster for Roger Primm.)

Capps presented his Wally trophy to an executive for sponsor NAPA.

"It couldn't mean more to finally win here, especially for NAPA Auto Parts, because their headquarters are in Atlanta. Mike Rearden has been such a big supporter, and this Wally is going to him."

Capps indicated that he knew he was a victory waiting to happen since Schumacher made the move to switch his crew with that of Jack Beckman.

"We had a rough spot back in April when we didn't qualify for the Las Vegas race, but I knew good things would happen when Don [team owner Schumacher] decided to move Rahn Tobler over to our team as crew chief," Capps said after the showdown between the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers (just as with the Top Fuel battle between Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence.).

"I've learned so much from listening to him already," he said. "He's made me a better driver, and I think helped restart my career. This is such a great team. I'm having so much fun it's unbelievable. It is so much fun to get in the car and know it's going to be a hot rod."

It could be a bigger money-maker, too, for this victory guaranteed Capps one of eight spots in the $100,000-to-win Traxxas Shootout that will debut this September at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.

 

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