BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 28, 2012) – Ron Capps has been resting on Cloud Nine since winning this third NHRA event title of the season two weeks ago when he also took over the Funny Car points lead in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
The 47-year-old from near San Diego was as high as a well-crafted kite after the race in Brainerd, Minn. It’s always nice to win but moving to the top of the standings after 16 events was the perfect set up for preparing for this week’s prestigious U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.
Don’t expect him to start acting like a prima donna as the points leader because he quickly recalls that after five events this year he was seventh in points and trailed leader Robert Hight by 246 points before new crew chief Rahn Tobler sent the NAPA Shocks Dodge Charger R/T into orbit.
Capps will start qualifying Friday night with a 53-point lead over Hight and he wants to leave Indy with the points lead. But he wants something bigger.
In 15 years of racing professionally in NHRA competition Capps’ list of 36 event titles does not include one at the U.S. Nationals, after 58 years as the sport’s premier event.
“I can’t remember ever being as bummed or disappointed after losing a round as after I lost some of the rounds at Indy,” he said. “You can talk about Indy and try to treat it like another race, but you can’t because it isn’t like any other race.
“Part of what makes Indy special is what you have to put into that race. You go in earlier for Indy because of media requests and the hoopla that surrounds a race with such great tradition. You’re in town there longer because the finals are on Monday and it’s Labor Day weekend. Fans are great, the city is great, the track is great.
While Capps has never won the U.S. Nationals, he has won three special Shootout races in elite eight-car events held concurrently with Indy qualifying.
“I’m not sure why I’ve been able to win those Shootouts but not the Nationals,” he wondered. “We’ve had good racecars. There were years when we felt we would win the Shootout and the race, but then we’d lose a close race in one of them.”
Capps will start the new Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Sunday with the No. 1 seed and his first round opponent will a driver determined by fans voting and then a lottery drawing weighted to favor the most popular driver.
The other six drivers who qualified by winning event titles this year are Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman and Johnny Gray along with John Force, Robert Hight, Mike Neff and Jeff Arend of Kalitta Motorsports.
While a $100,000 Shootout bonus for his NAPA Shocks team by winning the Shootout would add luster to his season, Capps also quests his first series championship after finishing runner-up three times.
But the U.S. Nationals is such a lofty achievement that he would cherish that more than any other racing accomplishment.
“I could quit driving right now and be OK with it. I’ve done so much in this sport and not winning a championship would be disappointing but not as much as if I never win Indy.
“I heard Ed McCulloch say he wouldn’t trade one of his five Indy titles for one championship. He’s a dear friend and one of the greatest Funny Car drivers ever.
“He’s won Indy that many times and never won a championship and for him to be content with what he accomplished in the sport says a lot about Indy. That’s how big Indy is.
“We’ll start thinking about winning our first championship after we win our first Indy.”
RON CAPPS, NAPA Shocks Dodge Charger R/T
2011 at Indy: Qualified No. 3; lost in semifinals to Bob Tasca III
Career at Indy: Wins 0, Runner-ups 0, Poles 0
2012 Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 16 3 3 2 1 32-12
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
380 36 39 13 17 457-327
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Aug. 19, Brainerd, Minn.; 16 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 1,228
2. Robert Hight, 1,175
3. JACK BECKMAN, 1,068
4. JOHNNY GRAY, 999
5. Mike Neff, 988
6. Courtney Force, 883
7. Cruz Pedregon, 861
8. John Force, 842
9. Jeff Arend, 781
10. Bob Tasca III, 770
11. MATT HAGAN, 751
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT - FUNNY CAR
Sunday (12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)
First-round pairings: 1. RON CAPPS vs. No. 8 fan vote/lottery; 2. Robert Hight vs. No. 7 Jeff Arend; 3. JACK BECKMAN vs. No. 6 John Force; 4. JOHNNY GRAY vs. No. 5 Mike Neff
U.S. NATIONALS FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE (all times ET)
WEDNESDAY: NHRA Fanfest, public press conference and autograph session, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Monument Circle, Downtown Indianapolis
FRIDAY (Aug. 31): Big O Tires Don Schumacher Racing Open House for Riley Hospital, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Nitro qualifying, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY (Sept. 1): Nitro qualifying, 3:30 p.m., 7 p.m.
SUNDAY (Sept. 2): Nitro qualifying, 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
MONDAY (Sept. 3): Eliminations, 11 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: 5-7 p.m. (ET), delayed
Monday: 12-6 p.m. (ET)
THIS FRIDAY – DON SCHUMACHER RACING OPEN HOUSE
The seventh annual Big O Tires presents the Don Schumacher Racing Open House is Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature each of the seven DSR drivers, an indoor car and bike show, Cacklefest with the “Jungle Jim” Funny car, “330-mph Art & Technology” exhibits and Silent Auction to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley.
The annual Open House and other DSR functions have raised more than $175,000 for Riley Hospital.
The event is free to the public.
Silent auction items range from 50-inch HD, flat panel television provided by Aaron’s to the actual front end from Matt Hagan’s Aaron’s Funny Car that was featured worldwide on the Internet and television news programs after the car exploded earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s zMAX Dragway.
The technology aspect of the Open House will allow visitors for the first time to tour the DSR CNC Machine Shop that includes high-tech machinery used to manufacture more than 200 components used on DSR Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars.
The DSR 8,000-horsepower supercharger dynometer also will be operated at various times throughout the day.
DSR is located at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg about 4 miles west of Lucas Oil Raceway.
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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 190 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
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