SONOMA, Calif. (July 28, 2013) – Ron Capps always credits his crew chief Rahn Tobler and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team after a race for their great work whether they win or lose. This week, it was a celebratory show of appreciation as a Capps win at Sonoma brought the team into second place in the standings.
On Sunday, Capps could start by giving himself a big slap on the back for using a better reaction time on the starting line at Sonoma Raceway to beat a quicker car that enabled him to win his second NHRA Mello Yello title of the year.
And it happened at the closest racetrack on the NHRA tour to his hometown of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Capps’ quicker reaction to the starting line Christmas Tree enabled his 4.085-second run at 307.79 mph to beat 15-time world champion John Force’s 4.072 (311.13) for the holeshot win in the championship round.
“A holeshot-win only comes with a great car,” Capps said. “That 4.04 we ran to beat Courtney (Force in the semifinals) was stout.”
The tune-up by Tobler and assistant John Collins helped Capps move up two positions in the championship standings to second behind Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, who was upset in the first round as the No. 1 qualifier.
It is the 40th NHRA Mello Yello Series title for Capps and fourth at Sonoma.
Capps and the NAPA team, which qualified third, started the day with a 4.066 to beat Del Worsham and followed with a 4.099 to eliminate Jeff Arend before meeting Courtney Force in the semis.
It was Capps’ fourth championship round of the season, and while ending a streak of going 12 events without a title, the victory had greater meaning to Capps.
“I’ve been thinking all weekend that if I won here I would dedicate it John Cardinale,” Capps said of the Sonoma Raceway’s vice president of media and marketing who was 47 when he lost a valiant two-year battle with cancer in March.
“It was sad to be here and not see John. That’s the best part about winning; to be able to dedicate a win to him and let his family and friends know a lot of us out here will always remember him.”
It also was a special place because Capps has attended every NHRA national event at Sonoma since the first NHRA event 25 years ago as either a fan or racer.
“It meant so much to have all of my family here this weekend. This is where I grew up, met my wife and got married. There are so many great memories for me here, and this is the latest one.”
The victory by the NAPA team is the 17th of the season by DSR out of a possible 30 nitro titles, a winning rate of 56 percent.
The series moves to Kent, Wash., next weekend for the third and final stop of the NHRA Western Swing.
The following are results and notes from the Capps win at Sonoma Raceway:
Event winner: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.986 sec*., 320.51 mph* (track records)
Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3
First round: CAPPS (4.066 sec., 311.20) def. Del Worsham (4.855, 188.94)
Second round: CAPPS (4.099, 308.35) def. Jeff Arend (6.018, 115.56)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.048, 315.34) def. Courtney Force (4.506, 186.59)
Final: CAPPS (4.085, 307.79) def. John Force (4.072, 311.13)
Session 1: 4.053 sec., 308.85 mph
Session 2: 4.012, 312.50
Session 3: 4.996, 150.03
Session 4: 4.077, 306.95
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial, after 15 of 24 events; through Sonoma; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN, 1034
2. RON CAPPS, 1007
3 Cruz Pedregon, 983
4. John Force, 961
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 945
6t. JACK BECKMAN, 910
6t. Courtney Force, 910
8. Tim Wilkerson, 804
9. Del Worsham, 799
10. Robert Hight, 782
2013 WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS.
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
Aug. 2-4, Northwest Nationals, Kent, Wash
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), the winningest team in drag racing history, has raced to claimed more than 340 NHRA national event victories and 17 Mello Yello World Championship titles. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields professional teams competing in both the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and Factory Stock Showdown, including the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driven by 2016 World Champion Ron Capps.