TWO-TIME GATORS CHAMP CAPPS GOES FOR THIRD


Although he's a veteran NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car racer, Ron Capps is still in awe of the historic NHRA Gatornationals. He's won this event two times since 1995, and, on the strength of the performance so far this season of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team, he's aiming to make it a triple at this weekend's 41st annual event.

"The Gatornationals has always been a special race," said the California native who will drive the special NAPA Filters-bodied Dodge Charger this weekend. "It's among one of the biggest races on the NHRA circuit. More than anything else, it's considered the 'Winternationals' of the East Coast, because a lot of the corporate sponsors who are based on the East Coast, plus the fans who couldn't make it out to the first two races out West, always try to attend this race in Gainesville.

"It completely stuns me every year on Friday morning when I drive into the track and in those few miles before you even get to the track you see all these campers, with fans everywhere, and the parking lot is already filled up.

"It's a great time of year to be there; it's a great track. And being able to win the Gatornationals twice is amazing to me, because it's a race that a driver always wants to make sure he/she wins in his/her career.

"But it can also be tricky," added Capps, who is third in the class point standings after two events. "In March in Florida it could be 60 degrees one day and you turn around next morning and it could be 80 degrees, with a lot of humidity. It's a very challenging event as far as weather goes."

In the first two races of the season, Capps has scored one runner-up and one quarterfinal finish. "We had a decent start," he said. "I give the NAPA team a pretty high grade on the start. You can't compare it to last year because the NAPA team came out winning the first two races and had a chance to make it three in a row, but we didn’t.” Capps qualified sixth at the 2009 Gatornationals and was ousted in the opening round of eliminations.

"All you can ask for is that your team shows up at the track as a threat to win on any Sunday. If you can pull that off, then you're going to be a threat to win a championship.

"We have all the tools. We gave NAPA a great year last year and fell short of the championship," added Capps who earned a class-best five victories in 2009, ending the season third in points. He is still seeking his first Funny Car crown.

"So, we're going to go to Gainesville and try to win the race and Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) has instilled in me and the NAPA team that we're going to focus on one race at a time, like we did last year. If we can have the year we had last year, then we're going to have a good shot at the championship, and I think it all starts with the race in Gainesville."

While Capps has won the Gatornationals twice (2006 and 2007), his crew chief and former driver Ed McCulloch is a four-time Funny Car champion at this event (1972, 1986, 1989, 1990).

RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:

  • No. 3 in 2010 Funny Car points, after two event (runner-up, one quarterfinal)
  • Has two wins at Gatornationals in three final rounds (2006, 2007, R-U in 2000)
  • Qualified No. 6 at Gators in 2009; lost first round to Tony Pedregon
  • Ended 2009 season No. 3 in the point standings
  • Won class-best five events in 2009 - Pomona 1, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver - in seven final rounds
  • Entered 2009 Countdown to 1 No. 2 in 2009 Funny Car "regular season" after leading standings in 12 of the first 14 events
  • Currently holds the national record racing to 1000 feet of 4.023 seconds (Phoenix 2009)
  • Qualified No. 1 three times in 2009
  • Has nine career No. 1 qualifiers, none in 2006, '07 or '08. Three in 2009  (Phoenix, St. Louis, Denver)
  • No. 8 in 2008 Funny Car points; two runner-up, five semifinal, four
    quarterfinal finishes, 13 first-rounds
  • Is tied with Tony Pedregon with longest qualifying streak among active
    Funny Car drivers: 65
  • 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 third 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
  • 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 62 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 (racing to 1320 feet)
  • His career-best speed is 331.61 mph (Pomona 1, '07) - racing to 1320 feet
  • Capps' career round win-loss record is 376-276
  • Capps' career-best speed racing to 1000 feet is 310.55 mph (Las Vegas 2, 2009)
  • Capps' career record against 14-time champion John Force is 21-42 in round wins. He's won 13 of the last 19 meetings against Force, and has won five of the last seven first-round match-ups over Force. His final-round record against Force is 3-1
  • Age 44 (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

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:   
FRIDAY, March 12 – FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 13 – FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, March 14 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:  
SUNDAY, March 14, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at midnight (ET).
SUNDAY, March 14, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will re-air the two-hour qualifying highlights show at 10 a.m. (ET).
SUNDAY, March 14, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news magazine show, at noon (ET).
SUNDAY, March 14, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET).

SATELLITE:  
FRIDAY, March 12, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), AMC 6 / Transponder 21K (11920 MHz, vertical) (Analog feed)   
SATURDAY, March 13, 7 - 7:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 6 / Transponder 21K (11920 MHz, vertical)
SUNDAY, March 14, 7 - 7:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 6 / Transponder 21K (11920 MHz, vertical)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.