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FUNNY CAR VETERAN RON CAPPS RETURNS TO FIREBIRD MOTORSPORTS PARK FOR 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST NHRA START

PHOENIX – Former NHRA champion Ron Capps has been a staple within the Funny Car ranks for three decades and this weekend’s 39th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of his first NHRA start.

Ironically, Capps’ career didn’t begin in Funny Car. Capps’ rookie season was in Top Fuel, driving for Roger Primm, with his debut coming at Firebird Motorsports Park in 1995.

“I just remember Roger Primm taking a chance on me,” Capps said. “I was brought up and picked over a pretty big list of much more creditable and experienced drivers and I was thrown in. I hadn’t made a full run yet and Steve Gibbs had signed my license in Bakersfield and it exploded a supercharger and I did all the right stuff to get off the track. So, he signed the license because I did that and not really because I made a great run.

“Fast forward, we get a brand-new car and show up in Phoenix and I still hadn’t made a full run when we showed up Sunday morning. We qualified somewhere between 10-16 and we had Joe Amato first round. I was pretty nervous all night Saturday and remember he smoked the tires. It was a heck of a way to start to beat the legendary Joe Amato in my first round of competition.”

After his first year in the Top Fuel dragster, Capps hopped over to the Funny Car field where he has collected 75 of his 76 career wins, including three at Firebird Motorsports Park. He’ll try to add another this weekend in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Care Toyota GR Supra and Capps is thrilled to return this weekend to Phoenix, which has had an incredible history for nearly four decades.

“Phoenix has that old vibe again,” Capps said. “For me, I went there early on as a crew guy working on Blaine and Alan (Johnson’s) car so I’ve gone there for years and for me, it’s been a family destination race for us. I’ve got a lot of memories from there as a crew guy growing up but then fast forward to family trips to Phoenix. For me, it’s a semi-home track and a lot of good memories. I’ve had wins there so I’m looking forward to getting back there.”

Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock) all collected Wally trophies in Phoenix in 2023. This year’s race will again be broadcast on FS1, including a special NHRA in 30: Pomona Finals show at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday and Arizona Nationals eliminations at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. It is the third of 20 races during the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season and the final rounds of the NHRA Winternationals will also happen in Phoenix.

The opening round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge will take place during Friday’s qualifying session that begins at 4 p.m. PT. The finals of the bonus event follows during the second round of qualifying at 11:30 a.m. PT on Saturday. The final rounds in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock for the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals take place as part of final qualifying, which begins at 2 p.m.

Capps will take part in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, taking on longtime rival John Force in the opening round on Friday, while Matt Hagan meet J.R. Todd in the other semifinal rematch from Pomona. He’ll to pick up a win on Sunday against the likes of Bob Tasca III, class newcomer Austin Prock and Cruz Pedregon.

The day before, the postponed Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals from Pomona will be concluded in Phoenix. In Top Fuel, Ashley will take on Tony Schumacher. Funny Car will see Hagan and Force meet up for a match up of champions, while Enders and Glenn will make up the Pro Stock final.

To repeat in Phoenix season, Ashley will need to get past the likes of Shawn Langdon, who kicked off 2024 with a win in Gainesville, reigning Top Fuel champion Doug Kalitta, as well as Steve Torrence, Antron Brown and Brittany Force.

Caruso captured her first Pro Stock win last season in Phoenix. In order to repeat her victory, she’ll need to get past reigning champion Erica Enders, Troy Coughlin Jr., Greg Anderson, Aaron Stanfield and Dallas Glenn.

Also on deck will be the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, a special program that will take place on Friday and Saturday in Phoenix. The winner will walk away with bonus points and bonus money. The Top Fuel matchups include Ashley racing B. Force and Schumacher rematching Billy Torrence. In Pro Stock, the Challenge features Enders and Greg Anderson, and a Dallas Glenn/Aaron Stanfield duel.

The NHRA Arizona Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, featuring some of the top racers in the country. It also marks the debut of the NHRA Pro Mod category in Phoenix.

Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more. Race fans at Firebird Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk.

As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Phoenix. This opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 4 p.m. PT on Friday, April 5, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 6 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. PT on Sunday, April 7. Television coverage includes action on FS1 at 9:30 p.m. ET. on Friday and then a special NHRA in 30: Pomona Finals show at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Sunday coverage includes qualifying at 10:30 a.m. and eliminations at 6:30 p.m. ET.

To purchase tickets to the final NHRA Arizona Nationals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more information on NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.

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