POINTS LEADER CAPPS FAILS TO QUALIFY: HARTLEY, HIGHT, AND ANDERSON HOLD ON TO NO. 1 SPOT TOPEKA, Kan.--POWERade points leader Ron Capps failed to qualify for the 19th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX, snapping the...
POINTS LEADER CAPPS FAILS TO QUALIFY: HARTLEY, HIGHT, AND ANDERSON HOLD ON TO NO. 1 SPOT
TOPEKA, Kan.--POWERade points leader Ron Capps failed to qualify for the 19th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX, snapping the longest active qualifying streak in the Funny Car class at 55 races.
Capps' shocking result overshadowed the low qualifying efforts of Joe Hartley, Robert Hight, and Greg Anderson, who were all able to maintain the top rankings they attained Friday.
Entering the race with a 121-point lead in the standings, Capps could leave Heartland Park Topeka with the No. 1, but he knows his lead will probably be substantially trimmed.
"It's just like NASCAR when the points leader wrecks out early," Capps said. "We'll just have to deal with it like [John] Force's guys did earlier this year when they missed Vegas. It happens."
The man closest to him in the points, Hight, grabbed his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying position at Heartland Park Topeka. Hight, who has gone out in the semi-finals the previous two years at Topeka, will try to cash in for his first Topeka win, while gaining as much ground as possible on the sidelined Capps. Hight could surpass Capps by winning the event and setting the E.T. record.
"We've got a great chance to make up a lot of points on Capps," Hight said. "I hate to see them DNQ; I really do. No one wants to make gains at someone else's expense like that, but we still need to do what we can to close the gap on him. I say that because I know they'll be back stronger than ever next weekend."
Mike Ashley's Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger carried him to the No. 2 position with a 4.794 at 327.11 mph. John Force was next at 4.796 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to round out the 4.7-second cars.
No one was happier to see Saturday's sunny skies and hot conditions than Day 1 Top Fuel leader Hartley who managed to hold onto the No. 1 position through Saturday's two sessions. Hartley's career-best pass of 4.518 at 323.12 mph in his unsponsored car was more than enough to earn him his first low qualifier award.
"This is something I've always dreamt of but really didn't expect to ever happen," Hartley said. "This is special. Hopefully we can keep up the performance tomorrow and realize our other dream of winning one of these things."
The rest of the top five remained the same as it was at the close of Friday's action. Four-time NHRA POWERade Series champion Tony Schumacher was second in the U.S. Army dragster with a 4.529 at 303.09 mph. Teammates Whit Bazemore and "Hot Rod" Fuller followed with Bazemore running a 4.534 in the Matco rail and Fuller a 4.566 in his refrigerator-white car. They were followed by surging UPS pro Bob Vandergriff Jr., who had a 4.576.
Anderson's quick 6.703 at 205.91 mph in the final session earned him low qualifier honors for the third consecutive race and fifth time this season. The elapsed time, along with Friday night's 206.48 mph top speed, earned the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO driver both ends of the HPT track record.
"I have to commend NHRA and the people from Heartland Park for getting the starting line in better shape for today's run," Anderson said. "It was so slick in the burnout box that the tires were just spinning with no friction at all. There wasn't even smoke coming off of them and consequently they weren't getting hot enough. They scuffed it up and I think we're all catching up with it now. It was just something none of us had seen before."
St. Louis winner Dave Connolly is second on the grid with his Torco Race Fuels Cobalt posting a best of 6.719, while Allen Johnson has the quickest Dodge Stratus on the property after a third-best 6.724 at 204.82 mph.