SONOMA, Calif. — Ron Capps, the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, is one of the most recognizable faces on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour thanks to his NAPA TV commercials and his social media following, but when the NHRA heads to Sonoma for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, he’ll be even more recognizable because Sonoma is home to him.
“The place is like home to me, so is the whole [Western] Swing, but Sonoma is always a place that's got a big gold circle around it,” Capps said. “Every season, we pack the motorhome, and everybody that I went to high school with, I grew up with, my family, everybody is there, we stay in the motorhome up on the hill, and it's just a big homecoming for me. It's good karma; I love that place.”
Not only is Capps a fan of Sonoma because it’s his home track, he also has been pretty successful at the track set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Sonoma Valley with hills of wineries as far as the eye can see. In addition to being the defending event winner, he has also won the event the last two times the NHRA has stopped in Sonoma.
“I kind of forgot it was back to back,” Capps said. “I remember winning last year and going to Disneyland with my kids the day after on our way home, and I forgot actually that we won the year before.”
His DSR teammate Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also 2011 winners of the event that will be telecast on ESPN2.
What Capps hasn’t forgotten is how to win. He and his NAPA Auto Parts team have been on a roll after a rough start to the season and a crew swap earlier this year, scoring two victories in six straight final-round appearances after adding crew chief Rahn Tobler to the team, which has led to his jump to second place in the Full Throttle championship points standings.
“This season has been awesome so far,” Capps said. “I’m really looking forward to continuing it at the Sonoma race since it’s my favorite of the year and just because we won there the last two years. What made those last two wins so special was that I had my family with me in the winner’s circle, and they’ll be with me again. And it’s cool because I grew up near there.”
Capps not only has jumped to second place in the points standings, but he also is enjoying his time in the cockpit again, something that he said he lost sight of during some of the struggles earlier this year. The NAPA Auto Parts driver trails points leader Robert Hight by three rounds of racing with just four races left until the Countdown to the Championship begins at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, Sept. 14-16.
Capps may be toward the top of the points battle looking to retake the lead, but there are quite a few players at the bottom looking just to make it into the top 10 in these last four races for their chance at the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle championship, including his DSR teammate and reigning Funny Car world champ, Matt Hagan, who sits in 13th place. Rookie Alexis DeJoria and veteran Tim Wilkerson are both on the outside looking in as well but within striking distance of Bob Tasca III and John Force, who sit ninth and 10th, respectively.
The battle is very similar in Top Fuel because the shuffle for the top spot is tight between Spencer Massey, Antron Brown, and Tony Schumacher, but the battle for the bottom is just as tight with Bob Vandergriff Jr., Clay Millican, and Terry McMillen fighting for the 10th and final spot.
For the first time this season, Pro Stock is led by the Mopar Dodge Avenger of Allen Johnson, the most recent race winner who has been on a hot streak. The Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line sit second and third, respectively, while Mike Edwards and Vincent Nobile round out the top five. Four-time Pro Stock world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. is looking to secure his spot in the top 10, and V. Gaines and Larry Morgan are also fighting for that 10th and final spot.
The action in the two-wheel class is a battle at the top between the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle duo of Eddie Krawiec and Ander Hines and the Lucas Oil Buell team of Hector Arana Sr. and Hector Arana Jr. Veteran riders Matt Smith and Shawn Gann are holding onto the ninth and 10th spots as the tour heads to Sonoma, but Steve Johnson and John Hall are working their hardest to move from outside to inside the top 10 by the cutoff.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, please call Sonoma at (800) 870-RACE or log on to www.racesonoma.com
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours and thirty minutes of qualifying coverage beginning at 7 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, July 28, and three hours of eliminations coverage beginning at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 29.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The NHRA Sonoma Nationals will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:15 a.m. on July 27; eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m. on July 28 and continue through July 29.
* ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia, and the latest news updates from every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 25th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, the 14th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle - earn points leading to 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. The track is located at the intersection of Highways 37 and 121
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 27-29.
FRIDAY, July 27 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 28 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 29 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, July 28, ESPN will televise two and a half hours of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 29, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, July 28, 12 - 12:30 a.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 23C
(Digital HD feed)
Saturday, July 28, 10 - 10:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 23C
Sunday, July 30, 10:30 - 11 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 23C
(4160 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.461470554 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2011 EVENT WINNERS:
Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
John Force, 7, FC; Doug Kalitta, 5, TF; Greg Anderson, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 3, PS; Jim Yates, 3, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.805 seconds by Antron Brown, July ’09; 321.65 mph by Tony Schumacher, July ’11.
Funny Car – 4.060 seconds by John Force, July ’11; 311.99 mph by Force, July ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.538 seconds by Allen Johnson, July ’11; 211.56 mph by Johnson, July ’11.
PS Motorcycle – 6.843 seconds by Hector Arana, July ’10; 197.65 mph by Michael Phillips, July ’10.
Top Fuel - 3.735 sec. by Del Worsham, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.995 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.; 318.99 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.
Pro Stock - 6.477 sec. by Jason Line, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 213.91 mph by Jason Line, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
PS Motorcycle - 6.750 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, March ’12, Gainesville, Fla.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.
For tickets call (800) 870-RACE (7223). Tickets may also be purchased online at http://www.racesonoma.com/tickets/nhra_sonoma_nationals/
NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 13th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series
Top Fuel: 1. Spencer Massey, 1,071; 2. Antron Brown, 1,060; 3. Tony Schumacher, 990; 4. Steve Torrence, 950; 5. Morgan Lucas, 762; 6. Doug Kalitta, 744; 7. Shawn Langdon, 685; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 661; 9. David Grubnic, 625; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 568.
Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, 1,060; 2. Ron Capps, 994; 3. Mike Neff, 863; 4. Jack Beckman, 862; 5. Johnny Gray, 766; 6. Courtney Force, 701; 7. Cruz Pedregon, 680; 8. Jeff Arend, 661; 9. Bob Tasca III, 654; 10. John Force, 643.
Pro Stock: 1. Allen Johnson, 1,104; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,085; 3. Jason Line, 1,072; 4. Mike Edwards, 895; 5. Vincent Nobile, 884; 6. Erica Enders, 762; 7. Ronnie Humphrey, 550; 8. Shane Gray, 529; 9.Ron Krisher, 495; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 492.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 714; 2. Andrew Hines, 670; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 574; 4. Hector Arana, 510; 5. Karen Stoffer, 396; 6. LE Tonglet, 378; 7. Michael Ray, 354; 8. Scotty Pollacheck, 329; 9. Matt Smith, 308; 10. Shawn Gann, 284.