NHRA: Funny Car driver Ron Capps off to great start in 2016 after Pomona win

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Ron Capps wanted to give his wife the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

And at the same time, the Southern California Funny Car driver wanted to give himself something special on the big day – but in a different manner: on the race track.

So Capps combined both his gift list and wish list and came away with a win in Sunday’s final round of the NHRA season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“Now I can give the Wally (race-winning trophy) to my wife for Valentine’s Day,” Capps said of Shelley, who attended with their children Taylor and Caden, who drove up from their home in Carlsbad, near San Diego.

As for Capps, his 45th career Funny Car win – and third career triumph at Pomona, all in the Winternationals – not only solidified his hold on second-most wins in that category, it also got him and his NAPA-sponsored Don Schumacher Racing team off on the right foot.

“I have the best team in the business and they gave me a great racecar,” Capps said.

“There’s no holeshot win without having the car we did. All four runs in the 3’s (seconds) in qualifying, I don’t think anyone else did that. I was quietly looking at that. I knew we had a good racecar.

“Tobler (crew chief Rahn Tobler) and I have grown so much together. It’s like a marriage. He really keeps me in line on race day. We had a heck of a day.”

Now, it’s a matter of one race down and 23 to go for Capps to potentially earn the championship.

“I can’t wait to get this season going,” Capps said. “You wonder if you are ever going to see one of these (race winner trophies) again. I am racing (2015 NHRA Funny Car champ) Del Worsham in the final, who is one of the best. We threw down. What a race. Just to know we can get in the winner’s circle and get another Wally feels good.”

Although Worsham was slightly quicker in the overall run (3.978 seconds to Capps’ 3.981), Capps won with a great break at the starting line and with greater speed (324.28 mph to Worsham’s 321.81).

In a sense, Capps put pressure on his NAPA teammate, NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Chase Elliott, who will sit on the pole for this Sunday’s 58th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500.

“I’m like aw, man, I was going to tweet him and say ‘way to put the pressure on, man’ but I didn’t want to jinx ourselves,” Capps said of Elliott. “As we kept going further in the day I thought ‘man, how cool would it be to have the NAPA guys have the pole at the Daytona race and here winning Pomona at the other end of the country.

“There’s a lot of pressure when you’re given a great car like I have with the NAPA guys. You’re the last piece of that puzzle. It’s sort of like ‘hey, everything’s good, here ya go’ and you do not want to mess it up. It’s nice when you don’t mess it up.”

Capps and the rest of the NHRA national tour are off this weekend before next week’s race at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix, Arizona.

Interestingly, just like he’s now won three times at Pomona, Capps – who leads the Funny Car points standings by 22 points over Worsham – has three career wins to date at the Phoenix track.

Might the Capps lightning strike again?

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Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.