CAPPS PRIMED FOR HIGH-PROFILE ATLANTA RACE


NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader and winner of three of the first five events of the year, Ron Capps is looking to put the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car into the winner's circle for the first time at Atlanta Dragway this weekend at the NHRA Southern Nationals.

In his 28 national-event wins in 57 final rounds since 1995, Capps has never won at this facility in Commerce, Ga. And, as he seeks his first Funny Car championship after three career runner-up seasons, this is one venue he'd like to check off, if not only because it's located close to the NAPA AUTO PARTS headquarters in Atlanta.

"I've never won in Atlanta," said Capps, who was runner-up there in 2000 and 2001 in Funny Car, and in Top Fuel in 2005. "It's a very important place in our sport because of how many sponsor headquarters are located in that area. And we're close to NASCAR country so we get a lot of NASCAR fans come to this race. It's also home to Coca-Cola, Full Throttle and POWERade.

"For the NAPA team, it's a very, very high-profile race. And I've been very close to winning there. I was a runner-up there three different times. My first trip in 1995 I was a runner-up in Top Fuel, so it's always been a good place for me personally.

"When I look at the NHRA schedule now, there's not too many places left where we haven't won at. And Atlanta would be a great place to score a victory, especially this season," added Capps, who, with crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch, earned the pair's 20th victory together at Las Vegas last week. "You always want to do well in front of your biggest supporters and for us that's NAPA.

"It's very hard for the NAPA executives, with their busy schedules, to get to a race too often, so last year we had them out for the Atlanta race and they spent the whole day watching qualifying on Saturday. For some of them it was their first taste of drag racing, and I believe it confirmed to them why NAPA is in our sport. They had such a great time. So, to win there and have them open a newspaper on Monday morning in their backyard and see the NAPA car on the front page of the Sports section would be a great thing.

"But, to be honest, the Atlanta race is a very, very grueling race. The heat, humidity and other conditions can really play tricks on the crew chief. Sunday's eliminations can take their toll on a driver and a lot of times it's kind of the survival of the fittest for those who are still standing at the end of the day.

"This year we've won under some very cool conditions, on very fast tracks, and we've also won when it's been very, very hard to get down the track. Right now I feel our team with Ace at the helm is as versatile as any Funny Car team. And we're going into Atlanta with our dial set to 'win.'"


RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:

  • * No. 1 in 2009 Funny Car points, after winning three of the first five races of the season (Pomona, Calif.,
    Phoenix and Las Vegas).
    * Leads teammate Matt Hagan by 106 points
    * Round win-loss record in 2009 is 12-2
    * Has never won at Atlanta Dragway
    * Was runner-up in FC in Atlanta in 2000 and 2001 and in TF in 1995
    * No. 8 in 2008 Funny Car points; two runner-up, five semifinal, four quarterfinal finishes, 13 first-rounds
    * 2008 round win-loss record was 20-24
    * Is tied with Tony Pedregon with longest qualifying streak among active Funny Car drivers: 44
    * 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
    * NAPA AUTO PARTS is primary sponsor for second straight season
    * 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 eight career No. 1 qualifiers, none in 2006, '07 or '08. One in 2009 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 28 event wins in 57 final rounds to his credit (27 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 345-257
    * Capps' career record against 14-time champion Force is 18-41 in round wins. He's won 10 of the last 15 meetings against Force, and has won five of the last seven 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 (7/25/96) and son Caden (7/1/01)
    * Has tested for IROC Series and competed in Skip Barber Formula Ford, Dirt Late Models, Mini-Sprints and Go-Karts

SCHEDULE:    
FRIDAY, April 17 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 18 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 19 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:    
Saturday, April 18, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday April 19, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA Race Day, at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, April 19, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).
    
SATELLITE:    
Friday, April 17, 9:30-10 p.m. (ET) - AMC 15 / Transponder 1K (11720 MHz, vertical)
Saturday, April 18, 6-6:30 p.m. (ET) - AMC 15 / Transponder 1K (11720 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, April 19, 7-7:30 p.m. (ET) - AMC 15 / Transponder 1K (11720 MHz, vertical)


Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners' interviews on Sunday.