Capps thrives on history of NHRA Gatornationals and return of NAPA Filters to DSR Dodge Funny Car


There is something about sunshine that appeals to California's Ron Capps.

The veteran Funny Car driver grew up with it on the West Coast and has found the East Coast version of the sun's rays very appealing, too, especially those in Florida.

But what captivates Capps even more about racing in Gainesville, Fla., is the history of this weekend's Tire Kingdom Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com.

"There are some tracks that when you win there it just seems more prestigious," he says of the 43-year-old event in Central Florida. "The age of the event and its history just puts it on a higher tier and that makes you want to win there more."

Capps returns with Don Schumacher Racing to Gainesville, Fla., to where he has won two of his 33 NHRA event titles (2006 and 2007) and was runner-up in 2000.

"There are always great crowds there and it is more challenging because of the humidity and how the sun can beat down on the track."

Capps also knows the Gatornationals is a big event for NAPA AUTO PARTS, the primary sponsor for his DSR Dodge Charger R/T.

He'll arrive a day early to play in a NAPA golf tournament before racing begins on Friday.

"It's the first big race on the East Coast and we always have a lot of sponsors come out for this race," he says.

Capp's NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge also will feature a special paint scheme to promote this month's NAPA AUTO PARTS "All You Need to Know" NAPA Filters Big Event specials and NAPAFilters.com.

"You always put a little more pressure on yourself when your sponsor is also the race sponsor," Capps says.

That added incentive helped him reach the winner's podium at an event last year.

Capps carried a NAPA Filters theme last summer was when it saluted NAPA Platinum Filters and he won the event title at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Capps also dabbled in a little history last weekend when he competed in the "March Meet" in a nostalgia Funny Car at Bakersfield, Calif.

Although he lost in Sunday's first round in a car owned by Chuck and Del Worsham, Capps says it is beneficial any time a racer can get in the cockpit of a race car.

"Even though we'd only been off for a couple weeks it helps when you have to cut a light (off the starting line)," he says. "Those nostalgia Funny Cars are a lot slower than our NAPA Funny Car, but they are a real handful when you have to shift so that helps keep your reflexes sharp."

Weekend Schedule:

Nitro Class Track Schedule (All times EST)
Friday: Nitro qualifying sessions, 12:30, 3 pm
Saturday: Nitro qualifying sessions, 12:30, 3 pm
** Spring forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Sunday for Daylight Savings Time!
Sunday: Eliminations, 11 a.m.

TV Schedul (All times EST)
Sunday: Qualifying Replay, 5:00 pm ESPN2
Sunday: Final Eliminations, 6:00 pm ESPN2

Race Facts

Funny Car standings following 2 of 23 races:

  1. Mike Neff, 196
  2. Robert Hight, 154
  3. John Force, 150
  4. JACK BECKMAN, 137
  5. RON CAPPS, 125
  6. Courtney Force, 124
  7. Todd Lesenko, 102
  8. JOHNNY GRAY, 99
  9. Jeff Arend, 84
  10. Gary Densham, 83
  11. MATT HAGAN, 74