BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 21, 2016) – Ron Capps finds himself in a little “enemy” territory, but the longtime fan of San Francisco sports teams, above all, is a major-league fan who applauds any outstanding accomplishment.
In preparation for this weekend’s NHRA Summit Racing Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, Capps arrived in Downtown Cleveland Monday afternoon after advancing to Sunday’s semifinals at Bristol, Tenn., where he won his career-best third straight No. 1 qualifying position to pad his championship points lead with the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Capps will spend Wednesday with various Cleveland-area media promoting the Mello Yello race that begins Friday about 60 miles west near Lake Erie, and then on Thursday tour the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The veteran Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing will cap Wednesday’s media tour by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for the first-place Cleveland Indians game against Tampa Bay, and is eager to get a glimpse of Wednesday’s downtown parade and celebration of the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA championship Sunday, marking the city’s first major championship in 52 years.
“When I arrived Monday it didn’t take long to realize how crazy the city is about the Cavs winning,” Capps said from his hotel room on 9th Street where he said he could see where the Browns play and was close enough to walk to the Indians stadium and Cavs arena.
— Ron Capps (@RonCapps28) June 22, 2016
“I don’t care who your favorite team is or where you’re from you want to cheer for Cleveland because of what the Cavs accomplished and have done for this part of Ohio. You can see how the city has been lifted by a sport’s team. You don’t want teams or cities to go that long without winning a championship.”
Capps, who has won the last three No. 1 qualifier positions and two of the past three Mello Yello titles will arrive at Norwalk ranked first in championship points after 11 of 24 events. With more than half of the season remaining, he knows not to give much thought to winning the NHRA championship in November.
He has good reason for that: He is the only professional driver in NHRA history who has been the championship runner-up four times, which includes by two points in 2012 and eight points in 2005.
“Both of those years and really throughout my career we never did that well in qualifying,” he said.
Before he earned his fourth pole of the season, his previous bests were three in 2009 and 2012.
In the past three races, he has collected 23 of a possible 36 qualifying bonus points that are awarded after each session at 3-2-1 increments.
“We’ve lost championships in the past because we did not get enough of those bonus points,” said Capps, who if he wins his 49th event title on Sunday would tie Don Prudhomme for No. 11 on the all-time nitro wins list.
“Our car is very versatile to track conditions and is consistent, and that’s what it takes. We have as good a chance than I’ve ever had and I’m in as good a racecar that I’ve ever been in with Tobler, (assistant) Eric Lane and this NAPA team.”
He also wants to move Norwalk to his win list. It, along with the track in Reading, Pa., are the only tracks among active NHRA venues where he has not be in a winner’s circle.
“The trophy has been a little elusive here,” he said of three runner-up finishes (2011, 2013, 2014) in the nine-year history of the event.
“Norwalk is notorious for being hot, humid and one of the trickiest tracks we go to. It’s a great racetrack and very fan and racer friendly. Everything they do there is first class.
“It’s close to Indianapolis so a lot of our crew guys’ families get to go. Our NAPA guys are on the road a lot and it’s important to me that their families come out and enjoy what they do for a living. Especially if you get in the winner’s circle where you have memories for years.”
GET BACK AND GIVE BACK
The NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car will support for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund at Norwalk and in two weeks at Chicago with a patriotic design on Capps’ Dodge Charger R/T to kick-off NAPA’s fifth annual “Get Back and Give Back” campaign during July to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a national leader in supporting current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
The “Get Back and Give Back” effort by NAPA and its customers raised $2.1 million last year for a total of $5 million since 2012.
One hundred percent of donations go to the IFHF’s mission of building nine Intrepid Spirit centers around the country to diagnose and treat Traumatic Brain Injury and psychological health conditions in U.S. service members.
“There’s no greater honor than for us to start celebrating our Independence Day by having the Stars and Stripes on our NAPA Dodge at Norwalk and Chicago as a salute to American heroes and to help those who gave much more than anyone could have asked,” said Capps, the second winningest driver in NHRA Funny Car history.
“The better we run in qualifying and the more runs we can make in eliminations on Sunday at Norwalk and Chicago means the more our fans will learn about the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on the Fox Sports 1 telecasts.”
Throughout the month of July, NAPA AUTO PARTS will provide customers opportunities to contribute to the IFHF by purchasing t-shirts and bracelets at participating NAPA AUTO PARTS stores or online. Additionally, customers who purchase $25 or more at NAPA AUTO PARTS stores receive free NAPA/IFHF caps, with NAPA donating $1 to the IFHF for each cap given away.
NAPA AUTO PARTS and NAPA AutoCare Centers will offer mail-in rebates of up to $25 for every battery, alternator and starter purchased in July, with the option to donate all or a portion of those rebates to the IFHF. NAPA AUTO PARTS additionally will donate $1 to the IFHF for each redeemed rebate and $2 for qualifying installations at NAPA AutoCare centers and preferred installers.
Ron Capps: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Winner of three straight poles
Last event Bristol, Tenn., June 19: Qualified No. 1, lost in semifinals to Matt Hagan
A year ago at Norwalk: Qualified No. 8, lost in first round to Courtney Force
Career at Norwalk: Wins 0; Runner-ups 3 (2014, 2013, 2011); Poles 0
2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Standings
After 11 of 24 events
|1||Ron Capps (3)||841|
|3||Courtney Force (1)||741|
|4||Matt Hagan (2)||710|
|6||Tim Wilkerson (2)||691|
|7||Tommy Johnson Jr. (1)||675|
|8||Robert Hight (1)||643|
|10||Alexis DeJoria (1)||588|
NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals Event Schedule (ET)
Friday: 5:45, 8:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1:15, 4 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals TV Schedule on FS1 (ET)
Friday: 8-9 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 7-8 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., first two rounds LIVE
Monday: 12-3 a.m., championship eliminations
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.