Defending NHRA Funny Car world champion Ron Capps is leaving Gainesville Raceway with the confidence that he has one of the quickest cars in the class yet again after a second-round exit at the season-opening NHRA Gatornationals. The driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra laid down the second-quickest pass of the event in the first round of Sunday eliminations before going up in smoke in the quarterfinals.
Capps and tuner Dean “Guido” Antonelli made a statement in Saturday qualifying, where Capps recorded the third-quickest pass of Q3 before laying down a 3.874 E.T. at 333.25-mph in the final session to claim the first No. 1 qualifier award of his sophomore season as a team owner and driver. It was Capps’ seventh pole position since forming Ron Capps Motorsports.
“(In the) last session, Q4, to go to the top and get the yellow hat is something we take very seriously,” Capps said. “It’s important to us to be able to fend off such great competition to steal the pole.”
Racing in front of a packed house on Sunday morning, Capps in his NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra fired off a 3.855-second pass at 334.57-mph to defeat Terry Haddock and set what was then low E.T. of the event. In the second round, Capps left first against fellow Toyota driver Alexis DeJoria but lost traction just after leaving the starting line.
“We felt great about race day,” Capps said. “(The weather) warmed up before second round and when I got back from the run and it smoked the tires, I told Guido how spoiled I was because we haven’t done that in a long, long time. We made a small clutch adjustment that caused us to smoke the tires, but we’re very, very happy with everything and I can’t wait to get going to the West Coast.”
Capps, a veteran of the NHRA nitro ranks, started the season with a new look and new body on his Toyota GR Supra Funny Car. There were personnel changes with the retirement of co-crew chief John Medlen after the Ron Capps Motorsports team won its first world championship as an organization at the end of the 2022 season. With one race under their belts, Capps and company are now ready to continue chasing Capps’ third consecutive world championship, and fourth overall, as the NHRA Camping World Series moves on to Phoenix.
“This last off-season was one of my favorites,” Capps said. “We had an extra month, and as an owner, it gave us a little more time to get everything together. Starting the season off with the Gatornationals was something I think the fans really love, and now I’m super excited to head West and get that string of West Coast races started. Couldn’t be happier with the way we started our season here. Test session went great on Tuesday. We brought out our brand-new 2023 Toyota GR Supra Funny Car body, and everything went according to plan.”
The early-season West Coast swing will begin March 24-26 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.
Start / Finish: Qualified No. 1 / Defeated by Alexis DeJoria in the quarterfinals
Points Earned: 62
2023 NHRA Camping World Series Points Standing / Total: No. 6 / 62 pts. (-52)
Next Race: March 24-26, NHRA Arizona Nationals, Chandler, Ariz.
How to Watch or Listen: FS1; NHRA.TV
Established in 2021, Ron Capps Motorsports is a single-car NHRA Funny Car team owned and operated by reigning and three-time world champion Ron Capps. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., the team made its on-track debut in 2022 and competes on the 21-race NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit thanks to the support of NAPA Auto Parts, Toyota, and GearWrench.