GLENDORA, CA – November 3, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Almost everything has gone according to plan for Ron Capps during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship and now the Funny Car standout is on the verge of clinching his first career world title.
Predicting it would take a finish of the semifinals or better at each of the NHRA’s six playoff races, Capps has done just that at the first five stops and takes an 86-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan into historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona for the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 10-13.
On the precipice of that elusive first world championship, Capps, whose 50 wins are the most in NHRA history for a driver without a title, is enjoying the moments and build-up heading to what would be the biggest highlight in his spectacular career.
“I’m just trying to stay busy and we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Capps, who has finished second on four different occasions (1998, 2000, 2005, 2012). “As close as we’ve been before, you don’t want to take anything for granted so we just have to keep going. You can tell and feel that there’s a lot of excitement but it boils down to you just have to keep staying busy and stay in your normal mode. But there’s no doubt Pomona is going to be a lot of fun.”
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the season-ending event that will aired for the first time on FOX Sports 1 this November. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the final race in the Countdown to the Championship and would mark the perfect location for Capps’ first career world title in his 10,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
The California native has a number of fond memories at Pomona, but being able to clinch a championship – and possibly win the race in the process – would overtake them all for Capps, who has five wins and 10 final round appearances in 2016.
“Pomona is such an important track to me personally,” Capps said. “I’ve driven for two legends in Don Prudhomme and Don Schumacher, and the fact that Wally Parks’ name is there when you make a run, there’s just so much history there. It’s such a big race to begin with and then you add all the excitement of what’s going on, to clinch there and be crowned champion there would be surreal.”
Capps has envisioned those scenarios leading up to the 2016 finale, but he and his team, led by crew chief Rahn Tobler, remain just as focused on the task at hand.
That means holding off two-time world champ Hagan, finishing strong, and taking the same aggressive approach that has led to incredible results in 2016. Capps has posted an impressive 53 round wins in 2016 and has two final round showings in the Countdown. He has also delivered standout runs almost every race weekend, with that qualifying consistency leading to huge results this year.
“Every November when the season ends and you look at why you didn’t finish better or what you could have done better, we haven’t had to look far,” Capps said. “We had lost a lot of points in qualifying and we worked really hard on that. That’s been a big difference. To get 50-plus round wins in a season you know you’re going to be in the hunt, and I knew if we kept going rounds we would be okay. We’ve just stayed aggressive, haven’t changed our approach and tried to take care of business.”
Antron Brown clinched his second straight Top Fuel world championship in Vegas and will try to end his banner year with his eighth win in 2016.
Two former Pro Stock champions, Greg Anderson and Jason Line, are in a tight points battle, with Line and his eight wins this season leading Anderson by just 19 points.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, one of the trio of defending champion Andrew Hines, Krawiec and Jerry Savoie will be crowned champion. Hines and Krawiec are both tied for the points lead, while Savoie’s win in Vegas has him just three points back.
The Auto Club NHRA Finals also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying feature two rounds at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, and two final qualifying rounds on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Tickets are available at NHRA.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-884-NHRA. Kids 12 & under can see it all for free with a general admission ticket, while all students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID.
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the final of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. From I-10, go north on Fairplex drive and follow the signs to Auto Club Raceway at the Fairplex.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 10-13
THURSDAY, Nov. 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Nov. 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Nov. 12 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 13 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday Nov. 11, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday Nov. 13, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 13, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS:
Shawn Langdon, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
John Force, FC, 8; Kenny Bernstein, TF-FC, 6; Greg Anderson, PS, 5; Bob Glidden, PS, 5; John Myers, PSM, 5; Warren Johnson, PS, 4; Dave Schultz, PSM, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4.
Top Fuel – 3.700 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Feb. ’14 and 332.34 mph by Langdon, Nov. ’15
Funny Car – 3.884 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’15 and 331.45 by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock – 6.480 sec. by Erica Enders, Nov. ’14 and 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.766 sec. by Andrew Hines, Nov. ’12; 198.29 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Nov. ’12
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 2,581*; 2. Steve Torrence, 2,424; 3. Doug Kalitta, 2,413; 4. Brittany Force, 2,366; 5. Shawn Langdon, 2,365; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,352; 7. Leah Pritchett, 2,334; 8. Tony Schumacher, 2,332; 9. Clay Millican, 2,232; 10. Richie Crampton, 2,227.
1. Ron Capps, 2,546; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,460; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,433; 4. Jack Beckman, 2,395; 5. John Force, 2,387; 6. Del Worsham, 2,373; 7. Courtney Force, 2,334; 8. Robert Hight, 2,313; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,262; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,184.
1. Jason Line, 2,532; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,513; 3. Shane Gray, 2,438; 4. Vincent Nobile, 2,394; 5. Drew Skillman, 2,371; 6. Bo Butner, 2,369; 7. Chris McGaha, 2,275; 8. Allen Johnson, 2,245; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,177; 10. Erica Enders, 2,167.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. (tie) Andrew Hines, 2,509; Eddie Krawiec, 2,509; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,506; 4. Angelle Sampey, 2,399; 5. Chip Ellis, 2,359; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,340; 7. Cory Reed, 2,281; 8. Matt Smith, 2,277; 9. Hector Arana, 2,245; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,236.
* Clinched Top Fuel Championship
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association