Ron Capps is still the man who won the 2022 NHRA U.S. Nationals. But three weeks later, he’s just one of the nine Funny Car drivers chasing Robert Hight for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series championship.
Capps is gearing up for the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals as third in the standings, 84 points behind Hight and three points behind Matt Hagan who holds second place.
However, his relaxed state in the zMAX Dragway pit area on Friday afternoon suggests that he’s not too worried about it.
“I always feel good coming here,” Capps said. “I’ve always had great success even when I haven’t won here. I feel like I’ve always got great luck on and off the track here.”
Capps made it to the final round of eliminations in the 4-Wide Nationals that visited the Concord, N.C., drag strip earlier this year — a result that contributes to his peace of mind about the weekend.
He also claimed victory at the Carolina Nationals in 2012 and ’18.
“It’s good to know when you’re coming here for the Countdown,” Capps said, referring to his past trips to the winner’s circle in Charlotte.
As the Countdown to the Championship begins and the competition intensifies, every point and every win matters that much more. And for Capps, past wins can provide a slight mental edge on his opponents – which could be the difference between winning and losing on race day.
Before Indy, Capps had singled out Robert Hight and John Force Racing as the team to beat.
He’s watched them stay consistent through the season — picking up seven wins so far — and believes that Hight’s has the most consistent car on the track.
The U.S. Nationals played a key role in proving to Capps and his team that they were capable of beating Hight in the diverse conditions that developed in Indianapolis. Hight might’ve had the team to beat, but Capps had faith that his team would be the one to do it.
As fate would have it, Capps bested Hight in the final round of eliminations at Indianapolis, scoring his first win at the U.S. Nationals after 27 years of trying.
Now, the championship blinders are put on as the Countdown begins, leaving Indy behind and moving Capps’ attention to the opportunity ahead of him.
“I want to be a part of history in the other way. There’s a team that’s going to win seven or eight races, and they’re not going to win the championship, because I plan on doing it,” Capps said. “I hope I’m on the other end of that asterisk.”
Without a doubt, it’s been a record year of wins for Hight. But Capps has also made it a record year for a different reason.
Around this same time last year, he began the process of creating Ron Capps Motorsports. Although there was a considerable amount of action going on behind the scenes in relation to the new team, Capps focused on the task at hand – winning the championship.
He eventually wrapped up his second Funny Car title at the NHRA Finals at California’s Auto Club Raceway at Pomona last November.
This season, he made his debut as a team owner, along with Top Fuel driver Antron Brown who introduced AB Motorsports to the pits. Capps has found it to be a rewarding progression of his drag racing career, even if does require added effort and responsibility during the season.
“There’s a lot going on in my head,” Capps said with a laugh. “I’m enjoying being a team owner. It’s a lot of work.”
As he continues to chase Hight and attempts to score back-to-back championships, it has been crucial for Capps to keep his eye on the prize.
“To be able to do it first year, as a team owner, and be a world champion would be unbelievable,” Capps said. “And, on top of being Toyota Supra’s first world champion, it would be icing on the cake.”