2013 NHRA: Ron Capps NHRA U.S. Nationals Event Preview
Three of the biggest and richest titles Ron Capps has won came during the U.S. Nationals, drag racing's most prestigious event of the season.
Those victories were in all-star specialty events held within the U.S. Nationals weekend near Indianapolis.
Surprisingly, Capps has never won a U.S. Nationals title or even advanced to the championship round of the 59-year-old event at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.
"Yeah, that is a little hard to believe," said Capps, who owns 41 NHRA national event titles including the last one two weeks ago at Brainerd, Minn.
"I know we've been in a bunch of semifinals at Indy. We just haven't had success at Indy on Monday," he said of when championship eliminations are held on Labor Day. "We've been fortunate to have won the Shootout three times. Those were fun, fun races. I've had a chance to win three times on Sunday at Indy but haven't been able to transfer that over to Mondays."
When the U.S. Nationals begins Friday evening with the first of five qualifying sessions, Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team for Don Schumacher Racing will be coming to the "Big Go" as hot as he ever has been entering the U.S. Nationals.
Capps with crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant John Collins have won two of the past three NHRA Mello Yello event titles. Those victories are sandwiched around a shocking development near Seattle when the team did not qualify for Aug. 4 championship eliminations after rain washed out two qualifying sessions and a rare oversight by Tobler, who won the 1982 U.S. Nationals Top Fuel title as crew chief for Shirley Muldowney.
"I feel like, hopefully, I can look back in November and say that that the Seattle DNQ was much more of a positive," Capps said. "It's good it happened when it happened because if it had in the Countdown, we could almost write our ticket out of the Countdown. Also, I think it reminded the rest of our team just how tough this is. You're going to have to have your act together. I think that happened at a good time for us."
The NAPA team has won three titles in five championship rounds this season.
Capps won all-star titles at Indy in 1998, 1999 and 2002 while driving for Don Prudhomme. He'll get another shot to earn a $100,000 bonus for DSR when he competes Sunday in the 2nd annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout for eight of the drivers on the NHRA Mello Yello Series tour. Last year, he was runner-up at the rain-delayed Traxxas Nitro Shootout last Sept. at Dallas.
Not to downplay the value of earning that bonus money, but Capps and his NAPA team are most focused on the U.S. Nationals title and maintaining his hold on second-place in the Mello Yello standings in preparation for the start of the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff, which begins Sept. 13 near Charlotte.
Capps' DSR teammate Matt Hagan has virtually clinched the top-seed in the Countdown that will offer a 30-point lead when points are reset for the 10 drivers in the playoff, but only 114 points separates Capps from No. 7 in the standings. A perfect weekend for a driver in the U.S. Nationals would be worth 153 points, so the current rankings could see a big change over Labor Day Weekend.
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS, Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 2nd 17 3 2 5 1 1 25-14
CAREER 403 41** 41 67 14 17 499-345
**40 Funny Car/1 Top Fuel
Best time, speed
3.964 sec. * (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.), 320.89 mph (5-31-12, Englishtown); * Quickest ever
Last event, U.S. Nationals history
Last event (Brainerd, Minn.): Qualified No. 9; defeated Matt Hagan in championship round.
A year ago at Indy: Qualified No. 3; lost in first round to Matt Hagan.
Wins at Indy: 0
Runner-ups at Indy: 0
Poles at Indy: 0
Funny Car all-star titles at Indy: 3 (2002, 1999, 1998)
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(After 17 of 24 events; through Brainerd, Minn.; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 1,253
2. RON CAPPS 1,129
3. JOHNNY GRAY 1,066
3. Cruz Pedregon 1,066
5. John Force 1,054
6. Courtney Force 1,039
7. JACK BECKMAN 1,015
8. Tim Wilkerson 952
9. Bob Tasca III 906
10. Robert Hight 902
2013 FUNNY CAR WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS.
NHRA U.S. NATIONALS SCHEDULE
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., NHRA Fanfest on Monument Circle, Downtown Indy at Meridian & Market Street.
Friday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Don Schumacher Racing Open House; 7 p.m., Nitro qualifying session 1.
Saturday: 4 p.m., Nitro qualifying, session 2; 7 p.m., Nitro qualifying, session 3; 8:15 p.m.: Top Fuel Traxxas Shootout final.
Sunday: 12:30 p.m., Nitro qualifying, session 4; 3:30 p.m., Nitro qualifying, session 5; 4:45 p.m., Funny Car Traxxas Shootout final.
Monday (Labor Day): 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Capps is one of eight drivers who will compete Sunday in the second annual $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout to be held during qualifying for the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The following are first-round match-ups for the Shootout:
FUNNY CAR (Sunday): No. 1 MATT HAGAN vs. No. 8 fan vote/lottery winner; No. 2 RON CAPPS vs. No. 7 JACK BECKMAN; No. 3 JOHNNY GRAY vs. No. 6 Courtney Force; No. 4. Cruz Pedregon vs. No. 5 John Force.
DSR OPEN HOUSE FOR RILEY KIDS IS FRIDAY
Fans and friends of Don Schumacher Racing are invited to join the biggest team in professional racing on Friday for the 8th annual Don Schumacher Racing Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley.
The free, festive event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature a giant car/bike show, entertainment and appearances by each of DSR's seven professional drivers along with owner Don Schumacher at DSR headquarters at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg.
The Open House, which attracted a record-crowd of more than 4,000 fans last year and boosted DSR's contributions to Riley past the $200,000 mark, invites all to celebrate DSR's 200th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title.
The first 500 guests who arrive at the Open House after 10 a.m. will receive a free "DSR Win No. 200" sticker, commemorative Don Schumacher Hall of Fame Tribute autograph card and a chance to win a unique prize package of 40 1/24-scale DSR diecast collectibles from various seasons valued at a total of $3,500. (Additional raffle tickets will be available for $10 each.)
Popular Open House features returning will be: Indy Hi-Winders Car Show, DSR/Riley Silent Auction with more than $20,000 of donated items including several from NAPA and Carlyle Tools, DSR Driver Autograph Session, Raminator Monster Truck, live entertainment with the Army Entertainment Group; 330-mph Art Show featuring motorsports artists Bruce Tatman and DSR fabricator Thomas Patsis; DSR CNC/Machine Shop tours; and more surprises!
(as of Tuesday afternoon)
Wednesday: High of 92; 20 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms
Thursday: High 89; 0 percent chance of rain
Friday: High 91; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 92; 20 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms
Sunday: High 92; 0 percent chance of rain
Monday: High 84; 10 percent chance or rain
ON ESPN2 (times are EDT)
Sunday: Qualifying, 1-6 p.m., delayed
Monday: Championship eliminations, noon-6 p.m.