With 2-race win streak, Ron Capps’ Funny Car success is serious business

(Photo: NHRA)
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If 50 truly is the new 40, maybe even the new 30, then soon-to-be 51-year-old Ron Capps is proving he still has a lot of good, quality drag racing left in him.

The driver of the Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Funny Car is enjoying one of his best seasons yet in his 20-year Funny Car career. He’s driving like he’s just entering the prime of his career.

Capps is riding a two-race winning streak and has three wins overall in 2016 – the most of any Funny Car driver – starting with a triumph in the season-opening WinterNationals.

2016_Ron_Capps head shot

In addition, he’s back atop the Funny Car point standings for the second time in 2016 heading into this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.

Capps also has earned No. 1 qualifying honors in the last two races, the first time he’s ever achieved that in his career.

And in typical Capps fashion, he gives props to his team rather than himself for the success his NAPA Dodge Charger has enjoyed thus far in the first 10 races of the 24-race season.

“I almost felt embarrassed driving this car because it’s so good,” Capps said in a media release. “(Crew chief Rahn) Tobler and the NAPA Know How guys have given me such a good car.”

There’s good reasoning to think Capps’ winning streak will continue at Bristol this weekend: he’s won there three times in his career (2001, 2006 and 2012), and finished runner-up a fourth time (last year’s race there, losing to DSR teammate Matt Hagan).

Capps will be making his 470th career start this weekend, dating back to when he first came on the NHRA scene as a Top Fuel driver in 1995 before switching to Funny Car in 1997.

But again, rather than talking about himself and what he’s achieved this season, Capps gives his team credit.

“It’s important to me that a lot of the credit goes not only to our NAPA team but also to the hard work by our guys at the DSR fabrication shop,” Capps said. “We’re having a lot of success because of our fab shop, Tobler and John Medlen’s vision and machining skill.”

While Medlen is assistant crew chief for the Funny Car of Capps’ teammate, Jack Beckman (who Capps beat in the final this past Sunday at New Hampshire), his talent and ideas are spread across all four of DSR’s Funny Car teams.

“That’s what happens when you have an in-house fabrication and chassis shop with the best in the business and an organization that encourages everyone to work together,” Capps said.

If Capps indeed wins at Bristol, it would be the 49th triumph of his NHRA career (he also has 46 runner-up finishes), one day before he turns 51 … but there’s no question he’s driving like he’s 41, maybe even 31.

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IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”