2013 NHRA: Ron Capps NHRA Gatornationals Event Preview
Ron Capps knows how to get ready for spring, which is a week away.
It's not likely he can give you many landscaping tips as green begins to sprout thoughout most of the country.
But the Southern California native knows how to get ready for the heat of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. He'll start this weekend's NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., ranked No. 1 in his NAPA Filters Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing with an eliminations record of 7-1.
And Capps knows how to get his fans ready for spring by flying the colors of this month's NAPA Filters to remind them this is the time to get their personal vehicles ready for a new season, and the best way to start is going to NAPA AUTO PARTS for the NAPA Filters $20.99 oil change special that includes a NAPA Silver filter and five quarts of Valvoline Conventional or MaxLife motor oil. The special runs through March.
"It's always a huge compliment to our team when NAPA uses our car and NHRA for promotions," said Ron Capps, who will drive the NAPA Filters Funny Car beginning with Friday's two qualifying sessions. "That shows how important NHRA drag racing is that a great company like NAPA wants us to help with their promotions.
"We love be able to help our fans with tips on how to properly maintain their cars and trucks, and let them know when NAPA has a great deal for them."
Capps, crew chief Rahn Tobler and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team were runner-up at the NHRA season-opener at Pomona, Calif., and won the event title a week later in the NHRA Arizona Nationals on Feb. 24 near Phoenix.
After two races on the West Coast, Capps is eager to head to the other coast to race at one of his favorite tracks.
"Gainesville is one of the big four races that NHRA has," he said. "It was a huge race when I was growing up and it still is. You get pumped up when you're driving to the track and see all those campers. It's a destination race where a lot of fans attend as part of a vacation."
Capps, who was runner-up to DSR teammate Jack Beckman for last year's Funny Car championship, wants to get his NAPA Dodge into the winner's circle for a third time at the track. He won titles there in 2006 and 2007 while finishing second in 2010.
"It can be a very tricky racetrack; it could be hot and humid or it could be cold," Capps said of the track that will host its 44th NHRA national event. "You have to be able to adapt to conditions; the track could go from being one that could produce a national record to one that is hard to get down."
Capps feels confident because of the NAPA team's impressive start through two of 24 Mello Yello events and having Tobler and assistant John Collins on his side. A year ago, Tobler was crew chief for Beckman and led that team to a No. 2 qualifying position and spot in the semifinals.
"Tobler ran real good with Jack's Valvoline car last year, so they have some good notes to help us get out to a good start.
"We were more suprised that we didn't win at Pomona but we stubbed our toe in the final and Courtney had a great run. But Tobler learned why we lost, and after that he always finds extra motiviation.
"Tobler and John learned a lot about what our new DSR chassis likes when we were at Phoenix."
And it's on to Gainesville where the forecast calls for temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s under sunny skies.
"I'm looking forward to get down there. It's fun to show up on Friday and get together with my team and we have some special NAPA events before that."
RON CAPPS: NAPA FILTERS DODGE CHARGER R/T
Last race at Phoenix: Qualified No. 6; defeated Matt Hagan in championship round
A year ago at Gainesville: Qualified No. 6; defeated by Robert Hight in the second round
Career at Gainesville: Wins 2 (2007, 2006); runner-ups 1 (2010); 0 poles
(After 2 of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national events)
2013 Pts Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 2 1 1 0 0 7-1
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
392 39 40 14 17 481-333
Elapsed Time: 3.964* (5-31-12, Englishtown)
Top speed: 320.89 (5-31-12, Englishtown)
* Quickest ever in NHRA Funny Car
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(after 2 of 24 events)
1. RON CAPPS, 210 points
2. Courtney Force, 165
3. MATT HAGAN, 151
4. Bob Tasca III, 124
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 122
6. Cruz Pedregon, 117
7t. John Force, 106
7t. Tim Wilkerson, 106
9. Todd Lesenko, 102
10. Robert Hight, 83
11. JACK BECKMAN, 75
GOING FOR 200
This weekend at the Gatornationals, Don Schumacher Racing can reach the milestone of getting its 200th NHRA national event title.
DSR drivers Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher won respective Top Fuel and Funny Car titles at the last race near Phoenix to push the total to 198.
Two of the seven DSR teams in the Gatornationals would need to repeat the double-up to reach 200. That isn't farfetched considering DSR has won at least two titles at the same event 35 times since the organization based near Indianapolis began fielding more than one team in 2001.
DSR also is the only organization in NHRA history to have won event titles in each of the series' four pro categories.
GATORNATIONALS NITRO SCHEDULE (All times EDT)
Friday qualifying: 12:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Saturday qualifying: 12:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
NHRA ON ESPN2 (All times EDT)
Sunday: 1:30 a.m., 8 a.m. (re-air) qualifying; 7 p.m. eliminations
WEATHER.COM FOR GAINESVILLE
Friday: High 72; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 78; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 80; 0 percent chance of rain