Soaring to Championship Heights

Soaring to Championship Heights

By Ronnie Kohrt

As seen in the 2022 edition of the Bandimere Speedway Fan Guide

World Champion? Check. New team owner? Check. Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts team is soaring to new heights in 2022.

It was a brilliant year for the NAPA Auto Parts team and Capps. Not only did they secure the World Championship in Funny Car, but the new and exciting transition for Capps has begun as he transitions from "driver" to "driver/team owner."

But while the more things change, the more they stay the same. He's the consistent beacon for NAPA Auto Parts team. It's a rock-solid partnership that Capps finds very fulfilling. He says it's a dream becoming reality to work alongside the hard-working people of NAPA and hopefully, perform well for them on the track too.

“People forget that pretty much every NAPA Auto Parts store that you drive by is owned by somebody right there in your neighborhood,” Capps continued. “So when we see our partners and local store owners at the Mile-High Nationals, it’s all people who work their tails off that have a store and it’s their business. And they not only understand the sport, they love the sport. I think that’s what separates NAPA. A lot of these local Denver owners are racers too and that’s so great.

"I always remind people, support your local track and those independent local store owners.”

Good people are the rock solid foundation that guided Capps to a semi-or-better appearance at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals in two of the last three editions of the race. The former winner in 2009 says bringing a superstar crew chief is mandatory to the kick-off of the Western Swing.

“Oh boy, you do not want to go to that race without a superstar crew chief. You’re not only not going to do well, but you have a chance to hurt a lot of parts and you never want to do that entering the Western Swing.”

Dean “Guido” Antonelli, long-time crew chief and one of many talented individuals who help push the NAPA Auto Care Funny Car to a championship last year are the good people that Capps leans on, not only as a driver, but now as a team owner. “It’s been great to have really good people, both to lean on and help. With my crew chief “Guido” last year, we won the world championship together in our first year together on the team. And to have him, John Medlen and the same exact NAPA Auto Care team come together after winning the championship was huge for me as a first-time team owner.”

"Guido's very experienced in the sport, working for John Force for several years and at DSR for many years; he’s been a lot of fun to have help in the small things. I’ve been smart enough to pay attention to little things and one of those things that always stood out to me is that you cannot win in a car that can’t get there without a terrific crew chief and team. I’ve got that terrific crew chief, partner in NAPA and team with me.”

Capps and his team know they have tough competition ahead in 2022, with a bullseye on their back as the reigning world champion.

“We have the number one on the car. We got a bullseye, but you couldn’t think of a better scenario going into last year’s off-season as World Champion and having the chance to be a new team owner. Everything worked out and we’re excited to do it again.”

Q: What’s the experience like at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals?

A: “I tell people all the time. It’s like going to your favorite concert but going back-stage with your favorite band after sitting front-row for their first few songs. That’s the experience for someone going for the first time. I love seeing and talking to people who are brought out for the first time.

You can’t find a better experience for the money and witness what you witness with Top Fuel and Funny Car. 300mph, ground shaking, it’s something where anyone who comes out, I’ve never had someone come and say ‘it’s just ok.’ Everyone is blown away. It’s the ultimate day you can spend with your family at an NHRA drag race. That ticket comes with that back-stage VIP access and it’s special.”