Story By: ALLISON MCCORMICK / RON CAPPS MOTORSPORTS – POMONA, CA – Ron Capps couldn’t have scripted it better if he had tried.
The defending NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car champion will start his first race day as a driver/team owner from the pole position, and will go head-to-head against John Force in his first elimination round racing under the Ron Capps Motorsports banner.
During Q3 at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals, Capps powered the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car to a blistering 3.857 at 332.43-mph pass to rocket into the No. 1 position and earn three bonus points.
“We know we have what it takes as a team, we know we have the parts, the people,” said Capps of his statement-making run. “I always say ‘I wouldn’t want to race the NAPA car.’ It’s just a car that always goes down the race track, and it’s tough to beat.”
In their NHRA debut as the newly-formed Ron Capps Motorsports, the 2021 Funny Car world champs came out swinging at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The NAPA team unloaded with a 3.903 E.T. right out of the gate on Friday evening, earning a bonus point for clocking the third-quickest run of the round. During Saturday’s first qualifying session, crew chiefs Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and John Medlen gave Capps a car that launched him to the top of the Q2 timing sheets when he posted the quickest run of the session (3.923 seconds) to collect three more bonus points. He started Q3 from the No. 3 position, and his monster pass allowed him to amass another three bonus points and earn the first yellow Camping World Series Funny Car No. 1 qualifier hat of the season.
“It’s great to get the No. 1 spot and show that we can run with the best of them, but that 92 from Q2 was even more impressive to me, because we did that in the heat, and we were half-a-tenth or so ahead of everybody else. We know we’ll have similar conditions tomorrow. So, to show we can throw down in the heat, and then come back up and do the same thing in cooler conditions, it just instills so much confidence in me.
“We have our DSM Precision Manufacturing chassis and parts, and we won a championship last year with the same equipment. I wouldn’t want to drive any race car other than a Don Schumacher Racing chassis. (Crew chief) John Medlen is working in the machine shop still, and we have a great alliance with DSM.”
The Carlsbad, Calif. resident will start race day from the pole for the 30th time in his career, and sixth time at his home facility. As the No. 1 qualifier, Capps drew the 16th seed, but he knows his first round match-up will be anything but a ‘gimme.’
“We’ve got John Force tomorrow, so you can’t celebrate,” joked Capps, the second-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history, trailing only John Force. “He’s 16th but, you never count Force out, ever. He came over Friday and pulled me out of the tow vehicle and gave me a pep talk like he was my team owner, and that was pretty cool. But, every time you count him out, you get your ass handed to you. He’s our Tom Brady out here as far as I’m concerned.
“Is (going against Force in E1) worth having the hat? Yea. Would you want to go up against him when he seems like he’s struggling and backed into a corner? No. All I can say is, the fans definitely won’t want to be late tomorrow, but this yellow No. 1 hat means a lot. To start my career as a team owner from this position, it’s huge.”
The Capps/Force E1 draw has been named NHRA’s ‘marquis match-up’ of the race. Eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. PT.
Q1: 3.903 E.T. at 328.30 mph (One bonus point for third-quickest of the session)
Q2: 3.923 E.T. at 326.40 mph (Three bonus points for quickest of the session)
Q3: 3.857 E.T. at 332.43 mph (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)