CARLSBAD, Calif. (July 7, 2009) – Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car team are ready to attack the grueling three-race Western Swing, beginning with this weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, outside of Denver. In his career 29 national-event wins in 59 final rounds he has never conquered the track carved out of the mountain.
"I just got off the phone with my crew chief, Ace (Ed McCulloch)," said Capps, third in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle point standings, "and we talked about a lot of things. His last words to me were, 'Get ready because we're going to have a very good Western Swing.’ And that excites me. He has his game face on.
"Obviously, you're a mile high in Denver, there's hardly any oxygen and it's very warm there," added Capps, a four-time winner this year whose best results in Denver were runner-ups in 1998 and 2007. "It's very tough for a crew chief to make a car run there and physically for a driver it's one of the most demanding tracks we go to.
"Denver separates the great crew chiefs form the OK crew chiefs. If you don't have your act together as a crew chief in Denver you're going to hurt parts because it's very hard on parts in the first place," said Capps, whose tuner McCulloch won the Funny Car class in Denver in 1990. "And then you have to be ready for the next two weekends in Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., where the conditions will change again dramatically for each of those events. It's a tough three-race swing. It challenges every aspect of your capabilities as a crew chief and a driver.
"We came from very difficult conditions in Norwalk (Ohio) two weeks ago. It was hot and the track surface posed a lot of problems with tire spin. In Denver we're going to have a very good track. It's going to be hot, but we're also going to have two night qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, so the fans are going to enjoy seeing the flames coming out of the pipes.
"For us drivers, that's always something cool. It takes you back to being a kid watching these cars race at night."
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 3 in 2009 Funny Car points, after winning four in five final rounds of the first 12 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka)
* Led point standings through first 10 events
* Trails leader Ashley Force Hood by 25 points, is behind second-place Tony Pedregon by seven points
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 22-8
* Qualified No. 11 in 2008 Denver, lost second round to Cruz Pedregon
* Denver runner-up in 1998 and 2007
* 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: 51
* 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, July 10 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 11 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 3:45 and 7:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 12 - Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at noon.
Saturday, July 11, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 12, ESPN2 and ESPN 2 HD will air NHRA Race Day, at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 12, ESPN2 and ESPN 2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Friday, July 10, 10 - 10:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical)
Saturday, July 11, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, July 12, 12:30 - 1 a.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, July 12, 10:30 - 11 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 3K (11760 MHz, vertical)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.