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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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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.