|SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2015) – It’s good to gather positive vibes by being around family and old friends, and seems to be working for Ron Capps this weekend at what he considers to be his home track of Sonoma Raceway.Performance at the past three events hadn’t been what Ron and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team expected but he’s been saying all along that crew chief Rahn Tobler was focused on a larger picture of being in position to challenge for his first world championship.In the past three races, the NAPA team has lost in opening rounds after qualifying eighth twice and sixth once that put Ron in the middle of the pack and paired him against top-notch teams.
Tobler acknowledged a week ago that the team’s focus had to be on improving its qualifying position.
That happened Friday night, when he helped Ron, a native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and the NAPA team take a big leap forward in the Sonoma NHRA Nationals with a time of 3.970 seconds at 322.19 mph to earn the fourth seed for Sunday’s championship eliminations that begin at 11 a.m. (PT). It is their best qualifying effort in seven events
“We’ve been working at qualifying better and that’s the way we’re going to have to be in the Countdown (to the Championship),” Ron said of the six-race playoff that closes the 24-event Mello Yello season. We set our goals and that was to come out of the box off the trailer here and make a good first lap to be near the back of the pack for the night run and we did that.”
Capps was as impressed – if not more so – with how Tobler and the NAPA team performed Saturday in the heat of the afternoon when they went 4.091 (315.56), which was third best of the early session under conditions similar to what is expected for Sunday. They followed that with a stellar 4.058 (313.58).
“The cooler thing than our run Friday night was how we did on Saturday. That’s the run that will tell you if you have your act together for Sunday. The sun was out beating on the track and to be third quickest was great for this NAPA team,” said Ron, who has won four times in six championship rounds at Sonoma.
He’s likely to always remember how the second quickest elapsed time of his 21-year career and ended in a fireball Friday night.
“When I stepped off the throttle, it exploded. We had to put a lot of new things on the car for Saturday’s first run, so that made how we ran today even more impressive.
“This new (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) body is great and that’s a tribute to the DSR guys in our fabrication shop, Dodge and Mopar. Last year, it certainly would have had the body blow off like at Pomona last February (2014).
“The fab shop guys work countless hours and everyone at Dodge made a better race car for us to drive. They did everything right. We had great speed on the lap, and I was able to get off the track and drive right up to the Safety Safari to put the fire out and help get me out of the car. All of the stuff DSR and NHRA have done to make the sport safer worked. Don (Schumacher) stresses to all of us and the crew chiefs to work on safety. To have an owner that’s worried about safety as well as performance makes it great to come to work.”
Ron will have to adjust his regular race-day morning Sunday because he will be inducted into the Sonoma Wall of Fame as part of prerace activities and that will activate a life’s worth of memories.
The following are Ron’s qualifying results:
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
About NAPA AUTO PARTS
NAPA (www.NAPAonline.com) was founded in 1925 to meet America’s growing need for an auto parts distribution system. Today NAPA has grown to more than 6,000 U.S. NAPA AUTO PARTS stores and 62 distribution centers with more than 400,000 part numbers in inventory and more than 15,000 NAPA AutoCare and AutoCare Collision Centers nationwide.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown and the Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey; and in Funny Car, 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR has won 258 NHRA national event titles and 13 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing