BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 29, 2016) – Most racers downplay the importance of being ranked No. 1 this early in a season, but not Ron Capps.
The driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car won the season-opener in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in February, followed that by qualifying first at the next race and then made it to the final round two weeks ago in the Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.
“Whenever you get to the final round you expect to win,” said Capps, who has 45 Funny Car event titles ranks second most all-time in the NHRA category.
It was even worse for Capps that the loss to Robert Hight of John Force Racing in the championship round dropped him one point behind Hight for the top spot in Mello Yello Funny Car standings heading to this weekend’s event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“A lot of drivers will tell you being first in points this early in the season doesn’t mean that much, but it does to me and our NAPA team,” Capps said. “There’s a lot of pride in having the points lead at the first three races; it’s a nice feather in your cap. We’re only one point behind, and we want to get that back at Vegas.”
The Las Vegas track has been a good one for Capps, where he is tied for most Funny Car titles with five. And he’s won there with three crew chiefs: Ed “The Ace” McCulloch in 2001, 2005 and 2009; Tim and Kim Richards in 2011; and current tuner Rahn Tobler in 2012.
“That sounds like a list of hall-of-famers,” Capps said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some the best minds in drag racing.”
Capps has won 13 event titles since Tobler joined the team after the spring Las Vegas race in 2012 when he did not qualify for Sunday’s eliminations.
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“I really enjoy Tobler at the racetrack and then away from it. But he’s one of those guys that I really enjoy being around. I think I’ve won more races with him than any other crew chief I’ve had. He’s just a lot of fun to be around.”
Capps finished the past season by advancing to the semifinals at the last four races and has started this year at an even better pace.
“We ended the season very, very strong in Pomona and actually we had a pretty darned good Countdown.
“At the end of the year, our NAPA team took everything apart and worked on a few things, tune-up wise we left it alone and sure enough we rolled out of Pomona No. 2 qualifier and ended up winning the race. We have a great hot rod now. I’ve got a lot of confidence now as a driver for sure.
“Our NAPA Dodge is really showing consistency,” Capps said. “It’s going to be a fun year.”
RON CAPPS: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (March 18-20 at Gainesville): Qualified No. 5, lost in championship round to Robert Hight
2015 Las Vegas 1: Qualified No. 7, lost in first round to Robert Hight
2015 Las Vegas 2: Qualified No. 5, lost in semifinals to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Career at Las Vegas 1: Wins 1 (2009); Runner-ups 2 (2006-07); Poles 0
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 5 (ties track record; 2012, 2011, 2009, 2005, 2001); Runner-ups 2 (2007, 2006); Poles 1 (2011)
*45 FC/1 TF; Best time, speed: 3.885 sec. (2015, Pomona 2); 327.19 mph (2015, St. Louis)
2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Standings
After 3 of 24 events
|1||Robert Hight (1)||280|
|2||Ron Capps (1)||279|
|7||Tim Wilkerson (1)||183|
|11||Tommy Johnson Jr.||117|
Event Schedule (all times PT)
Friday: 2, 5 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1:30, 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: Noon, championship eliminations
TV Schedule on FS1 (all times ET)
Friday: 11 p.m.-12 a.m., qualifying
Saturday: 9-10 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 5-8 p.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.