SONOMA, Calif. (July 21, 2009) – Ron Capps returns "home" this weekend for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway. Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Calif., the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader always enjoys this final leg of the three-race Western Swing.
"Sonoma for me is like coming home to race," said Capps, a five-time season titlist in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car. "I lived up in the Bay area, went to school there, met my wife Shelley there and got married there. And when I was going to school I was teaching racquetball at a couple of health clubs in the Bay Area and played in tournaments all over Northern California.
"I have a lot of friends I haven't seen in a while, and every year they pop up at this race. It's just a great feeling. My parents always come up and it's a wonderful place to race."
As for a new set of challenges and conditions he'll face after competing at the mile-high Denver event and the sea-level Seattle race, "The conditions we expect in Sonoma always get me excited as a driver because when you look at the hot, triple-digit track temperatures, it takes a savvy crew and crew chief to get an 8000-horsepower Funny Car to go down the track. And we have that.
"We know it's going to be hot there, it always is, but it's a great race track because it's owned by Bruton Smith, who is famous for his well-run facilities."
Capps and the NAPA team will continue to try to achieve their goal of winning every round. It they accomplish it, it will help them hold onto the points lead through the next four races leading up to the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, after which the Countdown to 1 playoffs begin for the final six races.
"We knew we were going to have a good Western Swing," said Capps, who won in Denver, the first of the three Swing races and reached the semis in the second in Seattle. "Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) was confident with having a new car built and I had the confidence that the NAPA crew guys and the DSR chassis guys had put together a good car. To win in Denver, get the points lead back and have the success we've had the last couple of races, is a testament to the hard work of the NAPA crew and the guys back at the shop. My hat's off to them.
"We're slightly looking out in front of us at the Countdown scenario. It's out on the horizon, but we're still focused on every run that we make and right now the goal is to be in first leaving Indianapolis and gain that extra 20 bonus points for leading going into the Countdown. If we keep going rounds, that will be a successful goal."
Capps' Sonoma record includes one victory in 1997, two runner-ups in 2002 and 2005, and a No. 1 qualifier in 1998.
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 1 in 2009 Funny Car points after winning five in six final rounds of the first 14 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver)
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 28-9
* Qualified No. 5 in 2008 Sonoma, lost first round to Gary Densham
* Sonoma winner in 1997; runner-up in 2002 and 2005
* No. 1 qualifier in Sonoma in 1998
* 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: 53
* 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. Three in 2009 so far (Phoenix, St. Louis, Denver)
* 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 30 event wins in 59 final rounds to his credit (29 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 361-264
* 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 24 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 4 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 25 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 26 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, July 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 26, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA Race Day at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 26, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final round eliminations at 9 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Saturday, July 25, 12:30 - 1 a.m. (ET), Galaxy 18 / Transponder 23K (12160 MHz, vertical)
Saturday, July 25, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), Galaxy 18 / Transponder 23K (12160 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, July 26, 9 - 9:30 p.m. (ET), Galaxy 18 / Transponder 23K (12160 MHz, vertical)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.