BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2012) - Ron Capps was one of the drag racing fans disappointed when the annual NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event didn't visit Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis last year.
And he was overjoyed when Gateway returned to the circuit this year and the driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T can't wait to get back for the AAA Insurance NHRA Nationals that runs Friday through Sunday.
He loves interacting with the Gateway fans, and the track is where he won his first NHRA Funny Car title in 1997 while driving for team owner and drag racing icon Don "Snake" Prudhomme. He also won Funny Car titles at Gateway in 2005 and 2007 and was runner-up in 2009 when he was the event's No. 1 qualifier.
"I won the inaugural race there, and it's always been a great place for me. I'm glad to have it back on the tour.
"That was a great win at Gateway," Capps said, "and we did it with Snake and legendary crew chief Roland Leong. We were having so much fun. Snake was buddies with Rusty Wallace and his brother Kenny. The whole Wallace family came out that day and stuck around for the winner's circle pictures.
"It was cool to have Rusty and Kenny up at the starting line for every run. It was my first win in a Funny Car. The temperature and humidity were unbelievable. To have the fans still come out was impressive. A lot of good memories there."
Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS team already are loaded with good memories from this season. Their Dodge became the quickest Funny Car ever when it ran 3.964 at 320.89 mph on May 31 at Englishtown, N.J., and advanced to six consecutive final rounds midway through the season.
The team has been the best in class since Rahn Tobler and his crew were moved to the NAPA team after Capps did not qualify at Las Vegas in the fourth event of the year.
Capps will arrive at St. Louis as the Funny Car points leader. The team's four event titles and two No. 1 qualifying efforts all have come since Tobler took the helm.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge has built a 96-point lead in the standings after two of six races in the Countdown to the Championship, which is NHRA's playoff. It's a nice lead, but one that isn't enough for Capps or his team to think further than St. Louis.
"It literally is one race at a time. We're not looking down the road," Capps said.
At the NHRA event last Sunday near Dallas, Capps was upset in the semifinals by DSR teammate Matt Hagan and angry that he could not get the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge to a championship round for the eighth time this season.
"Tobler kept saying 'think of the big picture' so Sunday was not such a bad thing," Capps said. "But when you make it to the semifinals you want to win. The big picture is good."
He hopes this weekend the picture gets even better.
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
2011 at St. Louis: No event
2010 at St. Louis: Qualified No. 4; lost in semifinals
Career at St. Louis: Wins 3 (1997, 2005, 2007), Runner-ups 1 (2009), Poles 1 (2009)
2012 Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 19 4 3 2 1 38-14
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
383 37 39 13 17 463-329
NHRA FULL THROTTLE
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Through second of six Countdown events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 2,307
2. Mike Neff, 2,211
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,210
4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,167
5. Robert Hight, 2,144
6. Courtney Force, 2,140
7. Tim Wilkerson, 2,123
8. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,113
9. John Force, 2,104
10. Jeff Arend, 2,095
NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS EVENT SCHEDULE (All times CT)
Friday: 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., eliminations
ESPN2 SCHEDULE (All times ET, subject to change):
Sunday: 2:30 a.m., 1 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. ET, eliminations
Friday: high 74, 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: high 74, 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: high 78, 0 percent chance of rain
UPCOMING FULL THROTTLE EVENTS
Oct. 4-7, NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (Philadelphia area)
Oct. 25-28, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11, Auto Club of Southern California Finals, Pomona, Calif. (finale)
About NAPA AUTO PARTS
NAPA was founded in 1925 to meet America's growing need for a world-class auto parts distribution system. By providing excellent customer service for more than 80 years, NAPA has become the industry leader.
NAPA's strength is unrivaled, with over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS stores, 64 Distribution Centers, than 13,000 NAPA AutoCare, AutoCare Collision and Truck Service repair facilities, over 400,000 parts in inventory every day and the convenience of 24-hour shopping with NAPAonline. NAPA AUTO PARTS stores provide friendly, personalized service. Our highly trained and experienced professionals are here to help you get the job done. With our huge in-stock inventory, NAPA provides the parts you need when you need them.
For your automotive repair needs, NAPA AutoCare and AutoCare Collision and Truck Service Centers can handle everything from preventive maintenance to major repairs. Technicians at NAPA AutoCare Centers have access to the most extensive training in the automotive industry. Qualifying repairs are backed by the NAPA AutoCare "Peace of Mind" Warranty, providing our customers with 12-months/12,000 miles of worry-free protection on qualifying parts and labor. Wherever you may travel, our warranty is honored at all NAPA AutoCare Center locations across the country.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 193 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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