BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014) – Ron Capps started the 2014 season by garnering what might have been the biggest national audience ever for a drag racer.
The veteran driver for Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T is intent on making news in a more traditional way when he heads to Phoenix for this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, formerly Firebird International Raceway.
A violent engine explosion during a qualifying run two weeks ago at the season-opener at Pomona, Calif., destroyed his Dodge Charger R/T body that garnered countless highlights on national and local newscasts.
The 48-year-old Southern California native who lives in Carlsbad near San Diego wants the spotlight at Phoenix to shine on him in the winner’s circle for the 42nd time in his career and fourth at the track outside Chandler, Ariz., including the victory a year ago.
The facility will host its 30th annual NHRA national event but under new management for the first time. The track, which had been plagued with some bumps the past few years has mostly been repaved. About 600 feet of the dragstrip was removed and replaced with concrete.
“It will be kind of like going to a new track,” said Ron, who holds the track elapsed time record of 4.023 seconds set in February 2009.
“I can’t wait to go back. I’ve been getting emails from our local NAPA guys who went out to see what they’ve done, and they’re excited. We have a huge contingent of NAPA customers who come to the track.
“It will be fun.
“A brand new surface can go either way, but Phoenix always produces good times. That track can get national record performances very easily.
“It’s always been one of the most fun tracks we go to with a great diversity of fans. It was exciting last year to hear they were going to repave the track and make other improvements that excites you even more about going back to a track that you’ve loved going to anyway.”
And he knows his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T can perform. Despite the loss of power from the engine detonation about 200 feet from the finish line at Pomona, Capps recorded a time of 4.014 seconds at a slowing 304.67 mph.
“We were on a run that the computer showed would have been in the 3.98-second range,” said Ron, who with crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant John Collins produced the quickest ever run of 3.964 in May 2012.
“That made us feel a little better because we knew we had a great car under that body.”
Capps, who was not injured, was able to qualify fifth on that run and advanced to the quarterfinals at Pomona.
BY THE NUMBERS
RON CAPPS: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 6th 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1-1
CAREER 412 41# 41 68 84 160 15 18 507-353
#40 Funny Car/1 Top Fuel
Best Time, Speed: 3.964* sec. (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.); 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown); * Quickest ever
Last event (Feb. 7-9, Pomona, Calif.): Qualified No. 5; lost in quarterfinals to Bob Tasca III.
A year ago at Phoenix: Qualified No. 5; defeated Matt Hagan in championship round.
Career at Phoenix: Wins 3 (2013, 2009, 2003); Runner-ups 3 (2005, 2000, 1998); Poles 2 (2009, 2000)
SCHEDULE (all times MT)
Friday: 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
ON ESPN2 (all times ET)
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m., qualifying
Sunday: 8 p.m. – 11 p.m., championship eliminations
NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Through Winternationals, first of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver points wins
1. John Force 144 1
2. MATT HAGAN 94
3. Del Worsham 76
4. Bob Tasca III 71
5. Robert Hight 61
6. RON CAPPS 55
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 54
8. Gary Densham 51
9. Alexis DeJoria 39
10. Cruz Pedregon 38
11. JACK BECKMAN 34
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.