2013 NHRA: Ron Capps Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Event Preview
Ron Capps knows the twists and turns of racing well.
The veteran drag racer with 41 career titles in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has become accustomed to arriving at Pomona, Calif., for the season-finale in the thick of the championship race.
But that won't be the scenario for him and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T this weekend when the Auto Club Finals begin Thursday at the fabled track near his home in Carlsbad, Calif.
Capps, 48, will arrive at Pomona ranked sixth in points with three event titles in five championship-round appearances through the first 23 national events. Although he has won the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona twice, he seeks his first title in the Finals at the track.
"Pomona is a home track for me, and I'm excited every time we roll in here whether its February or November," he said. "It's an historic track and as a race car driver in NHRA, besides Indianapolis, there's no bigger race you want to win than at Pomona.
"Everyone will tell you they want to end the season on a good note and come away with a trophy. You'll be spending the holidays thinking about racing and the next season so you want to end it the best way you can."
Capps opened the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff ranked second in points but was unable to get past the second round of eliminations in the first three events.
"I thought we couldn't have come into the Countdown in a much better spot after we won at Brainerd," he said of the Minnesota race that was two events before the playoff began. "We were ready for Charlotte, but you almost have to be perfect in the Countdown and we weren't quite there."
His NAPA Dodge advanced to the semifinals at the fourth Countdown event and qualified fourth two weeks ago at Las Vegas before losing in the second round.
"We had a great elapsed time (4.057 seconds at 315.05 mph) at Las Vegas. It was a weekend we were experimenting with some things that we know can make us better down the road. We stayed on Monday to test and it was one of the better test sessions we've had with our NAPA team.
"We made some changes in the clutch and that worked very well. If you were to ask (crew chief) Rahn Tobler going to Pomona he'll tell you he's very excited, especially with what we saw in Vegas. It shows what our NAPA team has been working hard at to help us and all of our DSR Funny Cars."
The following are Capps' statistics and other event information for the NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif.:
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (Oct. 27, Las Vegas): Qualified No. 4; lost in second round to Alexis DeJoria.
February at Pomona: Qualified No. 6; lost in championship round to Courtney Force.
Last year at Pomona Finals: Qualified No. 1; lost in semifinals to Courtney Force.
Career at Pomona Winternationals: Wins 2 (2009, 1998); Runner-ups 2 (2010, 2006); Poles 1 (1999)
Career at Pomona Finals: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2008); Poles 0
Career at Pomona: Wins 2; Runner-ups 3; Poles 1
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi 2nd rd 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2013 6th 23 3 2 5 6 7 1 1 34-19
Career 410 41** 41 68 82 160 15 18 505-351
**40 FC/1 TF
Career Best Time, Speed: 3.964* (5-31-12, Englishtown, N.J.); 320.89 (5-31-12, Englishtown); * Quickest ever
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(After Las Vegas, 23rd of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. John Force 2,581 (Clinched 2013 championship)
2. MATT HAGAN 2,429 (-152)
3. JACK BECKMAN 2,410 (-171)
4. Robert Hight 2,375 (-206)
5. Courtney Force 2,366 (-215)
6. RON CAPPS 2,354 (-227)
7. Cruz Pedregon 2,341 (-240)
8. Del Worsham 2,269 (-312)
9. JOHNNY GRAY 2,257 (-324)
10. Tim Wilkerson 2,206 (-375)
2013 REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight (Charlotte), C. Pedregon (Dallas), J. Force (St. Louis), J. Force (Reading), J. Force (Las Vegas).
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Sept. 13-15 zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.
(Finals: TF - Lucas def. MASSEY; FC - Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF - Kalitta def. Langdon; FC- C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(Finals: TF - BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC - J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
(Finals: TF - Langdon def. BROWN; FC - J. Force def. Head)
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
(Finals: TF - BROWN def. Millican; FC - J. Force def. C. Force)
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif. (final event of 2013)
AUTO CLUB FINALS AT POMONA, CALIF.
SCHEDULE (times are PT)
Thursday: Nitro qualifying, 2:30 p.m.,
Friday: Nitro qualifying, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday: Nitro qualifying, 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Sunday: Qualifying, 2:30 a.m. (delayed)
Sunday: Qualifying (re-air), 2 p.m.; Eliminations, 7 p.m. (delayed)
(As of Nov. 5)
Thursday: High 84; 00 percent chance of rain
Friday: High 76; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 73; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 71; 0 percent chance of rain