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World champ Capps honored with major-league stars, NAPA team heads to Arizona Nationals for redemption

World champ Capps honored with major-league stars,
NAPA team heads to Arizona Nationals for redemption

BROWNSBURG, Ind.(Feb. 22, 2017) – This week started on a memorable note for Ron Capps and the reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion wants it to continue when he goes for his fourth event title in the NHRA Arizona Nationals near Phoenix.

On Tuesday night, Capps was honored at the 71st Salute to the Champions in San Diego not far from his home in Carlsbad, Calif. He was joined by co-Pro Stars of the Year Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs), Wil Myers (San Diego Padres), Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) and Olympic long jump gold medalist Jeff Henderson.

Oh yeah, and a guy named Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion.

“That was my biggest honor of the off-season,” said Capps, who won his first world title last year with NAPA AUTO PARTS and Don Schumacher Racing’s Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. “I’ve followed the careers of all those guys and I’ve been good friends with Jimmie since 1998. That night was very cool.”

It was the first time two racers were in the same group honored at the event, and Capps is believed to be the first active drag racer inducted.

Now it’s time to get back to defending his championship and that starts Friday with the first of two qualifying days before Sunday’s eliminations at 11 a.m. (MT).

Capps has gone the distance at the track formerly known as Firebird in 2003, 2009 and 2013 in six final rounds.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win there three times,” said Capps, who owns 50 NHRA titles including 49 in a Funny Car. “It’s a track where we have a little extra mojo going for whatever reason. It’s not a home track but we have a lot of family and friends who come over and there always is a huge contingent of NAPA AUTO PARTS and NAPA AutoCare people there. You see blue NAPA shirts all over the grandstands.”

Capps couldn’t be more eager to get back into the NAPA Dodge to overcome a mistake he says he made 10 days ago at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., when he left the starting line early and was disqualified with a red-light false start. It was only the third redlight of his career that spans 556 events since 1995.

“We had the most consistent car on the grounds last season and that’s why we won the championship. I think we had that at Pomona even though we didn’t have the results we wanted.”

In the semifinals at Pomona, the uncharacteristic redlight kept him from likely advancing to the final round when he lost a chance to beat teammate Matt Hagan, who went on to win the event title. Hagan lost traction halfway down the track and nearly crossed the centerline to finish with very beatable time of 4.29 seconds.

“It’s been a long two weeks for me after fouling out in the semis at Pomona that kept us from getting to the final round. I’m really looking forward to getting back in our NAPA Dodge. When you have an incident like that you get down on yourself because you did something wrong and you can’t get back soon enough so it’s good to see the Arizona Nationals ahead of us.”

2017 BY THE NUMBERS – for Phoenix

 

RON CAPPS:
NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
reigning world champ

 PtsEventsWinsRupSemiQtr1st rdPolesDNQW/L
20174th100100002-1
20161st2415 (10 finals)57514154-18
CAREER48450 (49 FC/1 TF)5090981782119668-415

Best Time, Speed: 3.843 sec., (Seattle, 2016); 330.23 mph, (Seattle, 2016)
Last event (Feb. 9-12 at Pomona): Qualified No. 4, lost in semifinals to event winner Matt Hagan of DSR
2016 Phoenix: Qualified No. 1, lost in second round to Tim Wilkerson
Career at Phoenix: Wins 3 (2013, 2009, 2003); Runner-ups 3 (2005, 2000, 1998); Poles 2 (2009, 2000)

2017 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Official after Pomona 1; 1 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)

FUNNY CAR
1. MATT HAGAN (1)) 119 —-
2. Courtney Force 99 -20
3. John Force 80 -39
4. Ron Capps 77 -42
5. Jack Beckman 53 -66
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. 52 -67
6. J.R. Todd 52 -67

6. Del Worsham 52 -67
9. Robert Hight 36 -83
10. Alexis DeJoria 35 -84

About NAPA AUTO PARTS
NAPA (www.NAPAonline.com) was founded in 1925 to meet America’s growing need for an auto parts distribution system. Today NAPA has grown to more than 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS stores, 58 distribution centers with more than 500,000 part numbers in inventory and more than 15,000 NAPA AutoCare and AutoCare Collision Centers nationwide.

About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered near Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Ind., fields eight professional NHRA teams in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by 8-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the reigning and 3-time world champion Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster driven by Antron Brown, the Red Fuel/Sandvik Coromant dragster driven by 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon and the Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde 2000/Pennzoil/Mopar dragster with driver Leah Pritchett.

In Funny Car, two-time world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane 2016 Dodge Charger R/T, reigning world champion Ron Capps’ NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.

DSR has won 293 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.

Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing

– NAPA KNOW HOW