Ron Capps, crew chief Ed “Ace” McCulloch, and the entire NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team are gearing up for the final two events of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, beginning with this weekend’s Eighth Annual Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ending on Nov. 16 at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.
Their goal is to bring home a victory for NAPA AUTO PARTS and Don Schumacher Racing and to finish a tough season high in the point standings.
Capps is seventh right now and, while first place is out of reach, fifth place is within sight. He is 135 points behind Robert Hight in that position. Fourth place is mathematically feasible, although a longshot. A strong performance, such as a win, could result in a sharp move up in the rankings.
“The approach to Las Vegas this year is definitely different than it has been the last few years,” said Capps, who is looking for his first victory of the year. “Going back the last three years we’ve been in a tight battle for a championship and it feels a little strange going to Vegas and not being one of the guys fighting for a championship.
“So, the perspective changes, I think, from my point of view and probably from Ace’s as well. Our goals have changed a little bit the last couple of races. We want to move up as far as we can in the POWERade points and we want to try to get a win for NAPA at one, or even both, of these last two races. And Vegas has always been a good track for me and Ace. As long as we have been working together, we’ve done well there.”
The duo’s successes at The Strip include two victories (tied with Tony Pedregon with the most Funny Car wins at The Strip) in 2001 and 2005 (both at second event of year), and runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2007 (both in the first event).
“I think we made great strides at the last race in Virginia with the performance of the NAPA Dodge (semifinal finish). The car was like a bracket car all day and I think you’ll see a little different approach from Ed McCulloch in the tune-up in Vegas.
“I always look forward to Vegas,” added Capps. “We’re aiming for that first win of the season, and if we can help our DSR teammate Jack Beckman (second in the point standings) at the same time on Sunday, then that would be great.”
RON CAPPS’ LAS VEGAS APPEARANCES THIS WEEK AND NEXT:
THURSDAY, Oct. 30:
* At DRAW Charity Softball game practice, from 2-4 p.m., at Rainbow Family Park, 7100 O’Bannon.
* Signing autographs at Las Vegas Monaco Coach facility, 7445 Dean Martin Dr., from 4-6 p.m.
TUESDAY, Nov. 4:
* Signing autographs at UCoat it display booth No. 21725 at SEMA.Show in Las Vegas Convention Center, 1 – 3 p.m. (open to trade only).
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 7 in Funny Car points after 22 2008 events: one runner-up, five semifinal, four quarterfinal finishes, 12 first-rounds
* Is 135 points behind fifth-place Robert Hight entering fifth of six events of Countdown to 1 playoffs
* Qualified No. 6 at Vegas 2 in 2007, lost first round to Phil Burkart
* Vegas 2 winner in 2001 (Bob Gilbertson) and 2005 (Gary Scelzi)
* Vegas 1 runner-up in 2006 (Cruz Pedregon) and 2007 (Robert Hight)
* Clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 at Reading, Pa.
* 2008 round win-loss record is 17-22
* No. 4 in 2007 Funny Car point standings
* Led 2007 Funny Car point standings by as much as 154 points through 14 of the first 17 races of the season
* Had three wins in seven final rounds in 2007; two semifinal finishes, four quarterfinals, nine first rounds, and one DNQ
* Round win-loss record in 2007 was 32-19
* NAPA AUTO PARTS is new primary sponsor for 2008
* Joined Don Schumacher Racing in 2005
* Has three U.S. Smokeless Showdown titles: 1998, 1999 and 2002
* Third in 2006 final point standings
* Had class-best five wins in 2006
* Had three wins, four runner-up finishes in 2005 (St. Louis was his first win for DSR in ’05)
* 2005 Funny Car championship runner-up, eight points short of title
* Qualified No. 1 once in 2005, in Dallas; first time since Brainerd 2000
* Has seven career No. 1 qualifiers, none in 2006, ’07, or ’08 so far
* A perennial fan favorite, Capps has driven and won in both Top Fuel and Funny Cars since he began his pro NHRA career in 1995
* His best season points finishes were seconds in Funny Car in 1998, 2000 and 2005
* He has 25 event wins in 53 final rounds to his credit (24 national event wins in Funny Car, one in Top Fuel)
* His career-best elapsed time (established during an event) is 4.694 seconds, set in 2005 in Dallas
* His career-best speed is 331.61 mph (Pomona 1, ’07)
* Capps’ career round win-loss record is 330-253
* Capps’ career record against 14-time champion Force is 17-41 in round wins. He’s won nine of the last 14 meetings against Force, and has won four of the last six first-round match-ups over Force
* Age 43 (June 20, 1965); born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
* Lives in Carlsbad, Calif., with wife Shelley and daughter Taylor (11) and son Caden (7)
* Has tested for IROC Series and competed in Skip Barber Formula Ford, Dirt Late Models, Mini-Sprints and Go-Karts
FRIDAY, Oct. 31 – PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Nov. 1 – PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 2 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Nov. 1, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov 2, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA Race Day, at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 2, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).
Friday, Oct. 31, 10:30 – 11 p.m. (ET) – AMC 15 / Transponder 11K (11920 MHz, vertical)
Saturday, Nov. 1, 9:30 – 10 p.m. (ET) – AMC 15 / Transponder 11K (11920 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, Nov. 2, 10:30 – 11 p.m. (ET) – AMC 15 / Transponder 11K (11920 MHz, vertical)