Western Swingin'


NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team heads west to
meet California boy Capps for three-race trek

This is the part of summer when Ron Capps gets to be like a normal dad.

He spent time preparing his motorhome to log some miles so he and his family only had to stop when they want to on the way to visit friends and relatives where he grew up in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The past week has been spent on a lake with his wife, Shelley, and their kids, Taylor, 15, and Caden, 11. Your basic vacation: fishing, swimming, cookouts.

While Capps' family gets to stay on vacation this week, Dad will head to Denver where he'll trade his t-shirts and shorts for his official NAPA AUTO PARTS racing apparel as he prepares for the Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison.

The 13th NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event of the year is the first of three consecutive racing weekends called the "Western Swing." From Denver, the pro tour heads to Sonoma, Calif., and then up the West Coast to Seattle.

"It's always a favorite time of the season for me because I get family time," Capps said. "We make a yearly trip for the two weeks before. Because our racing schedule is so busy and I don't get enough time with the kids to spend time like that.

"It's so nice because (San Luis Obispo) is a small community and I have family and friends there. I'll leave them there with the motorhome and I fly to Denver for the race and then fly back and hang out with family before we'll drive up to Sonoma."

The Swing has been good to Capps over the years. He has won six titles at those three venues along with being a runner-up eight times. But of those tracks, the mile-high altitude causes crew chiefs the most fits because of the thin air. Only one of Capps' 35 NHRA titles came at the Denver track, which was in 2009 when he also was the No. 1 qualifier.

Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler hope the Rocky Mountains will be kind to their NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T. The team is coming off two rough weekends of racing after advancing to the championship rounds of their first six events together when they also won twice.

After qualifying ninth – the worst since Tobler took over Capps' car – and then losing in the first round to rookie Alexis DeJoria on July 1 at Joliet, Ill., the NAPA AUTO PARTS team rebounded two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, with a strong No. 4-qualifying effort but was eliminated in the second round when Capps crossed the centerline.

"That was just driver error," Capps said. "We got a little out of the groove and the Dodge pulled hard to the left. It was my fault.

"But Rahn and I felt good about the NAPA car all weekend and that's great as we head for the Western Swing."

CAPPS STATS
Career at Denver:
Wins 1 (2009); runners-up 2 (1998, 2007); poles 1 (2009).

2011 at Denver:
Qualified No. 6; lost in second round to Matt Hagan

STATISTICS

2012 Races Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
Ron Capps 12 2nd 2 3 1 1 24-9
Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
Ron Capps 376 35 39 12 17 449-324
DENVER NITRO SCHEDULE

Friday: 5:30, 8 p.m., qualifying sessions
Saturday: 1:30, 4 p.m., qualifying sessions
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations

ESPN2 SCHEDULE

Saturday: 5-7 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. (ET), delayed