Capps Earns No.1 Qualifier Honors for Mopar at Exciting Four-Wide NHRA Nationals
· Capps puts DSR Dodge Charger R/T on pole for unique Four-Wide NHRA Nationals weekend at zMax Dragway near Charlotte
· Coughlin paces Mopar Pro-Stockers with fifth place qualifying effort
Concord, N.C. (Saturday, April 12) – The field is set for Sunday’s fifth annual Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at the purposely built zMax Dragway with Don Schumacher Racing pilot Ron Capps and his Dodge Charger R/T taking top honors in Funny Car qualifying. It is his first No.1 qualifier position of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the 16th of his career.
The unique Four-Wide format for the first round of eliminations will see a field of 16 qualifiers in each class split into four waves of drag racing competition rather than the usual eight. Competitors will face-off simultaneously in the four lane configuration with the top two finishers of each wave advancing to the next round. That means only three heats are necessary, with the final elimination quad determining the winner, runner-up and two semi-finalists.
Sitting fourth in the Funny Car standings, Capps earned the top spot with his provisional pole run of 4.059 seconds (314.24 mph) on Friday night, 0.015 seconds quicker than his closest competitor, which held up nicely because of warmer track conditions in the final two qualifying sessions.
“We saw some heat that we knew was going to be here today, but it’s also the conditions we are going to see tomorrow which will be nice for fans but track-wise a little warm,” said Capps who’s crew chief Rahn Tobler used Saturday’s runs to prepare for the warmer conditions expected for race day. “It’s great to have a crew chief like Rahn. I have loved and love working with crew chiefs that are old school. You know, they go back and look at the parts and analyze things and look at the big picture and Tobler’s a good guy to have at a Four-Wide with all that’s going on.”
Capps won the traditional event at the Charlotte track in Fall of 2012, but a title win at the unique Four-Wide competition has eluded him. The closest he came was in 2012 when he advanced to the final quad but finished as a semi-finalist. He will line up his Mopar as top seed against Chad Head (16), Dell Worsham (8) and Alexis DeJoria (9) in his foursome of competitors for the first round of eliminations.
Not far behind in third spot on the elimination ladder is DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. who earned his place with the 4.079 second (308.57) effort from Friday’s second pass as well, but who also posted the fourth and second quickest runs of the final two sessions in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. His qualifying effort will pit him against Jeff Arend (14), Courtney Force (6) and John Force (11) in his first round quartette.
Two Mopar teammates, both past winners from the 2013 and 2011 editions of the Four-Wide Nationals, will work to become repeat title holders as seventh seed, Matt Hagan, will line up his Mopar Express Lane machine alongside the Dodge Charger R/T of 10th seed, Jack Beckman, to do battle against Robert Hight (2) and Tony Pedregon (15) in first round action.
Leading the Mopar Pro Stockers in qualifying is reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. who qualified fifth on the merit of his 6.538 seconds (212.13 mph) pass on Friday. Coughlin won at the Charlotte track last September on his way to his 2013 Championship and would like to add a Four-Wide win to his list of accomplishments.
“Winning here in the Fall gives us a pep in our step, and we want to keep that streak alive tomorrow,” said Coughlin. “It would be great if we can get both Allen (Johnson) and my car into that final foursome and see if one of us can’t walk away with the victory. It’s such a special and unique deal that you almost rank it up there with Indy (U.S. Nationals) or the Gators (Gainesville). It has a certain prestige to it even though it’s still a fairly new deal for modern-day drag racing.
“Running well today was good because this will most likely be the exact same conditions we’ll have tomorrow,” added Coughlin, who also posted the second quickest run of the final session. “Both of these Dodge Darts coming out of the J&J Racing camp are looking sporty.”
Coughlin will line up his JEGS.com Mopar against Shane Gray (4), Robert Patrick (13) and Rodger Brogdon (12) in his quad for the first round of eliminations,
Winner of two national title events thus far this year and sitting third in the Pro Stock standings is Allen Johnson who qualified the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart in seventh spot to do battle against Erica Enders Steven (2), John Gaydosh (15) and Jonathon Gray (10) in his heat. V. Gaines, who sits fourth right behind Johnson in the points, qualified his HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger 11th and will line up against No.1 qualifier Chris McGaha, Larry Morgan (16) and Jimmy Alund (8).