BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 26, 2012) – Ron Capps wants nothing more than to win an NHRA world championship. He's devoted most of his adult life to winning one of the ultimate prizes in motorsports.
The 47-year-old Southern Californian has come close three times, falling short in 2005 by the smallest margin (eight points) in NHRA history.
The driver of the NAPA Batteries/Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Dodge Charger R/T for Don Schumacher Racing will start this weekend's NHRA Route 66 Nationals near Chicago as part of the hottest team in drag racing.
He surely wants to win for the third time this season, and he will have extra motivation to drive into the winner's circle Sunday afternoon at Route 66 with crew chief Rahn Tobler and the rest of the team.
Nothing would make Capps happier than to share the spotlight with that day's NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Robert "Rob" Dickey, a native of Capps' San Diego area who resides in San Antonio, Texas.
Dickey, 35, is a drag racer who can share his memories with Capps of legendary Carlsbad Raceway in Southern California.
Dickey, a husband and father of five, will be at the Route 66 Nationals courtesy of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which has provided more than $120 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.
"We're so focused on getting to the track and doing everything we can to win and taking care of our sponsors that we tend to forget a lot of time about what goes on in the outside world," Capps said.
Intrepid has helped Dickey adjust to life after a land mine in Afghanistan on Sept. 6, 2010, forced surgeons to perform a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg and partially remove part of his left calf.
Capps, 47, is eager to meet Dickey when he arrives at Joliet in time for Friday evening's qualifying that begins at 5 p.m.
Capps adds that everyone can appreciate life more after meeting a soldier like Dickey, whose sacrifices puts race-car breakdowns and tire-smoking runs into proper perspective.
"The best thing about having a great sponsor like NAPA and an owner like Don (Schumacher) is being able to do a special car like the one we'll run this weekend and to really give something back to someone who has given so much more than we could ever imagine," he said.
Capps' traditional blue and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car this weekend will feature a special paint scheme to bring attention to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and NAPA's "Get Back, Give Back" campaign that runs through July to encourage consumers to apply all or part of their rebates from NAPA Battery, Starter or Alternator purchases to Intrepid. Consumers can receive up to a $25 rebate on their purchases. Additionally, NAPA will donate $1 per consumer rebate redeemed.
Martin Truex Jr. and his Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup entry will field a similar look on the No. 56 NAPA Toyota in the July 7 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
"Our car this weekend will touch a lot of people when they see it and they want to cheer for it because of what it represents," Capps said.
"It's always special to run a car like that but to put that car in the winner's circle and have Rob there with us would mean more than anything."
An added bit of fun would be winning in the hometown of Schumacher, who owns the seven-car operation.
"That would be a bonus," Capps said. "Everyone knows that it is Don's hometown and the amount of people he entertains there is cool. So when you can win with all those people there it's just extra special."
A victory also would get Capps closer to points leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing. Capps was eighth in the standings and 209 points behind Hight after four events before Tobler took over as Capps' crew chief. Since then, the Capps-Tobler combination has advanced to six consecutive championship rounds with a 19-4 record in eliminations and cut Hight's lead to 73 points.
The NAPA Funny Car also became the quickest ever on May 31 when he completed a run in 3.964 seconds at 320.89 mph, which is the second fastest ever.
Capps in 2011 at Route 66:
Qualified No. 3; lost in second round to Jeff Arend
Capps' career at Route 66:
Wins 1 (2005); runner-ups 2 (2002, 2007), poles 0
(Updated through Englishtown; 9th of 23 events)
Friday: 5 p.m., 8 p.m. qualifying
Saturday: 5 p.m., 8 p.m. qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Saturday: 6-7:30 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: 6-9 p.m. (ET), delayed
(Through nine of 23 events; DSR drivers capitalized)