CARLSBAD, Calif. (June 24, 2009) – Ron Capps, crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch and the entire NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car team took advantage of a three-event back-to-back swing and holding the points lead in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series to do some at-event testing. And now, following 10 days of revamping and regrouping before this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Norwalk (Ohio) Motorsports Park, the team returns with a new chassis and a renewed determination to return to the winner's circle.
Capps, four-time titlist this season and points leader since the first event, slipped to third in the standings following his first-round exit in the last race in Englishtown, N.J., and is just 26 markers behind leader Tony Pedregon, and six points back of second-place Ashley Force Hood.
"Of course, it's been nice to have led the points," said Capps, who is still seeking his first Funny Car championship. "We've kind of been floating out there in first, and here and there it got a little bit close. But then, on a couple of occasions, at the next race we were able to extend the lead.
"It allowed us to do some testing and try some things. To be honest with you, now that we're in third, it kind of lights a little bit of a fire under us because we now have a reason to get back to our race mode and try to get the points lead back."
As for the new chassis, "The way these Funny Car chassis are built you get to a certain number of runs and they need to be replaced," Capps explained. "And we were at that point prior to the Topeka race, where we had three races in a row coming up, and Ace is always looking down the road trying to figure out a plan. At first, we were going to change it before we went to Topeka but we decided to run it and we ended up winning the race.
"The NAPA Dodge has been reacting a little bit differently as well, and we were past that number of runs and we thought it was time to go to a new chassis. We've run this car since the beginning of the year, so we decided with the break after Englishtown and before Norwalk to give the guys a chance to bring down the brand-new spare from the trailer.
"Right now the NAPA guys are putting that car together to make it exactly like the other car. And they'll take the other chassis and front-half it and have it completely race-ready. All we'll have to do is put head gaskets on it and put it on the track when and if we need to. And that's going to be exciting.
"Norwalk is quickly becoming one of our favorite tacks," added Capps, whose NAPA crew is made up of five graduates of the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima. "We're often asked why we like certain race tracks, and I always say that Norwalk is a great place to take the family. It has a fun atmosphere.
"The Baders do all they can to make the fans more comfortable, from the 'dollar a pound' ice cream to the facility itself, the nice rest rooms, the cool pit area. It just makes you want to come back there. And when conditions warrant, it's a very good track, and even if it's hot there it holds up very well.
"We would sure like to get a win there. We ran well there in qualifying last year (No. 2), felt we had a car that could win, but ended up losing in the semifinals. I'm pumped up about going back."
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 3 in 2009 Funny Car points, after winning four in five final rounds of the first 11 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka)
* Led point standings through first 10 events
* Trails leader Tony Pedregon by 26 points, is behind second-place Ashley Force Hood by six points
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 21-7
* Qualified No. 2 in 2008 Norwalk; lost semifinal round to Tony Pedregon
* 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: 50
* 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 nine career No. 1 qualifiers, none in 2006, '07 or '08. Two in 2009 so
Far (Phoenix, St. Louis)
* 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 29 event wins in 59 final rounds to his credit (28 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 354-262
* Capps' career record against 14-time champion Force is 20-41 in round wins. He's won 12 of the last 17 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
FRIDAY, June 26 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 27 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 12:10 p.m. and 2:05 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 28 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 27, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Sunday June 28, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA Race Day at noon. (ET).
Sunday, June 28, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Friday, June 26, 10 - 10:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical) (Analog feed)
Saturday, June 27, 6:30 - 7 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, June 28, 6:30 - 7 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical.
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.