No. 1 Capps eager for NAPA Funny Car to continue momentum
BROWNSBURG, Ind. - Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler are eager for this weekend to start the second half of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Often when a team wants to put the start of season in its rearview mirrors it is because of bad memories and bad results.
That certainly isn't the case for the NAPA Dodge and Capps, who will start the NHRA Route 66 Nationals Friday near Chicago in first place with a 130-point lead. In the recently completed "Eastern Swing" of four races in four weeks, Capps and the NAPA team won three of the four along with collecting three of four No. 1 qualifying honors with an unprecedented collection of quickness and consistency.
During the Eastern Swing, 27 of his 32 runs were in the 3-second range including twice when all eight were below 4.0 seconds. No other Funny Car team has ever done that once.
But history has little to do with looking toward the future when it comes to predicting championships, and for Capps and other Mello Yello pros, the only focus is on the next six Mello Yello events leading to the end of the regular season at the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend. That's when the top-10 drivers will be determined to contest for world championships in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship six-race playoff.
"Everything this NAPA AUTO PARTS team accomplished in June will never be forgotten but those accomplishments won't help us when we get to Route 66," said Capps, whose win at the last race in Northern Ohio was his 49th nitro win that ties him with legend Don Prudhomme at 11th on the all-time win list.
"It will be great to get to the track coming off such a high note, and with all Tobler has shown the past month puts is in a good position. But momentum isn't something we're ready to give up. We want to keep going, especially after a week off."
It was the first time in several years the Mello Yello series did not race on the Fourth of July Weekend, and another week off looms after this weekend before teams embark on another grueling stretch with three races in three weeks on the annual Western Swing.
"I love driving this Funny Car so I kind of hated to take last weekend off, but these stretches are really hard on our NAPA Know How crew guys," Capps said.
After Capps won at Norwalk, Ohio, it leaves him with only one NHRA track - Maple Grove in Reading, Pa. - where has yet to win.
Although he has advanced to three final rounds at Route 66 in Joliet, Ill., his only win was in 2005. That was his first season with Don Schumacher Racing and two years before NAPA AUTO PARTS joined the team.
NAPA Dodge races with Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
For the second straight event, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge will carry a patriotic scheme this weekend to promote NAPA's fifth annual "Get Back and Give Back" program to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
The "Get Back and Give Back" effort by NAPA and its customers raised $2.1 million last year and a total of $5 million since 2012 to help the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (FallenHeroesFund.org) support U.S. military personnel affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Throughout July, NAPA customers can support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund through the following options with 100 percent of each donation going to the IFHF's mission of building nine Intrepid Spirit centers around the country. (For details, visit NAPAonline.com.)
To further boost awareness for NAPA's commitment to help Intrepid Spirit Centers, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy SS for Hendrick Motorsports, will feature a patriotic paint scheme at the Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.