BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2016) – For Ron Capps, it’s time.
With four days of testing in the Arizona desert outside of Phoenix behind him, the second winningest driver in NHRA Funny Car history and his NAPA AUTO PARTS team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler are ready for this weekend’s NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., to open the 2016 Mello Yello Racing Series season.
“I always brag about the Winternationals because it’s more than a race at my home track growing up in California,” said Capps, who lives in nearby Carlsbad. “All you have to say is ‘It’s the Winternationals at Pomona.’
“It’s always been an exciting time, a fresh race to come to whether you’re a racer or a fan. Everybody has new paint schemes, brand new parts and everyone is well rested.
All the guys on our NAPA team are ready to get back after it and have that feeling of competition again.”
The 56th edition of the Winternationals marks the only time all year when every driver is tied for first place, and it’s a position Capps covets. He advanced to the Winternationals final round in 2015, when he lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, and three other times left as the runner-up and is ready to repeat wins he celebrated in 1998 and 2009.
“You should be happy about getting to the finals but you hardly remember those times,” said Capps, who won two of his 44 Funny Car titles in 2015. “I’m just another sports fan, and we usually only remember who won.”
He and his NAPA team spent the week at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park south of Phoenix preparing for the new season.
“We tested a lot of new parts and Tobler was only having me go to halftrack on our early runs,” he said. “We ran good throughout the week and ended on a high note.”
The high note was his last run in the NAPA Dodge Charger R/T that was completed in 3.919 seconds at 320.66 mph on Saturday.
— DonSchumacher Racing (@shoeracing) February 7, 2016
“We got everything accomplished that Tobler wanted. Most importantly for me was seeing what Tobler, (assistant crew chief Eric Lane) and the NAPA guys accomplished with improving the steering.
“We saw during the last half of last year that as hard and as quick as the Funny Cars were running they were becoming a bigger handful to drive. They have done as much as they could to help me better steer this NAPA Dodge when it wants to run in the 3.80s, and we’re going to be seeing a lot of those runs this year.”
A major change in 2016 that Capps embraces is NHRA teaming with new broadcast partner FOX including its FS1 channel. All 24 2016 Mello Yello events will air on the Fox Network and FS1 including 17 that will be telecast live beginning with Sunday’s championship eliminations at Pomona.
“That will be a whole new feel on top of everything the Winternationals has offered in the past,” said Capps, who was interviewed live during the Jan. 9 telecast of the Supercross opener from Anaheim, Calif
“It’s a brand new era for NHRA Mello Yello drag racing.”
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2016 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Last event (Nov. 14-16, 2015, at Pomona): Qualified No. 1, lost in semifinals to Tommy Johnson Jr.
2015 Pomona 1: Qualified No. 6, lost in final round to Matt Hagan 10:
Career at Pomona 1: Wins 2 (2009, 1998); Runner-ups 4 (2015, 2013, 2010, 2006); Poles 1 (1999)
Career at Pomona: Wins 2; Runner-ups 5; Poles 3
*44 FC/1 TF; Best Time, Speed: 3.885 sec., (2015, Pomona 2); 327.19 mph (2015, St. Louis)
NHRA Winternationals Event Schedule (All times PT)
Friday: 1, 4 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 1, 4 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
NHRA Winternationals TV Schedule – FOX Sports 1 (All times ET)
Friday: 10:30-11:30 p.m. ET, qualifying
Sunday: 1-2 a.m., ET, qualifying
Sunday: 5-8 p.m. ET, championship eliminations (Live Coverage)
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.