After fantastic 2022, Funny Car's Ron Capps not backing down in title defense
It was a historic season in many respects for Ron Capps last year, as the veteran Funny Car standout won his second straight world championship in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Season.
But it was also his first as a team owner, becoming the first back-to-back world champ in Funny Car in 20 years. It gives Capps plenty of momentum going into 2023 in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra, where he remains as motivated as ever to succeed at the legendary Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Fresh off a season that included five wins, six No. 1 qualifiers and nine final rounds, there were plenty of incredible moments for Capps, a three-time world champ, to enjoy in 2022. But in kicking off the new year, Capps remains driven to succeed, in part because of the stellar competition around him in Funny Car.
“It’s just been a lot of fun and we’re really looking forward to 2023,” Capps said. “It was to enjoy all those moments as they happened, but you have to find a way to motivate yourself or else you’re going to fall down that ladder in the class. There’s a lot to wake up and be motivated about and it’s not hard for me to get motivated. We’re going to have our hands full and there’s a lot of teams that have been working hard. It’s going to be the toughest year ever, without a doubt.”
Tripp Tatum (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock), and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all picked up victories during a record-breaking weekend in Gainesville last year. This year’s event will be broadcast on both Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the FOX broadcast network, including eliminations coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday to open the season.
Capps got off to a great start last year in his first race as a team owner, qualifying No. 1 and advancing to the final round. He would be thrilled with that this weekend in Gainesville, where Capps has put together four victories in his storied career. Sitting on 73 career wins, the standout is also closing in on his milestone 75th victory. That will be a big goal during his 2023 campaign, but Capps is eyeing a Gainesville victory and the chance to compete for a fourth world title as well.
The class, though, remains loaded, as Capps will take on the likes of Robert Hight, who won eight races last season, defending event winner Hagan, John Force, J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Alexis DeJoria, Bob Tasca III and Cruz Pedregon.
“I’m excited about being back in the car,” Capps said. “I’ve been seeing all of these other drivers on social media making hits in their cars during testing all off-season and I’m excited we’re finally back at it now too. The weather is looking awesome; it’s going to be warm, it’s going to be tricky. The Gatornationals is a historic race, so I’d love nothing more than to win this weekend and get the season started off on a good note.”
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 10, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 11 at 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 12. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 10:00 a.m. ET. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday, leading into live eliminations on FOX at 12 p.m. ET.
The opening round of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. ET, with the semifinals to follow at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m., and the callout will be given a featured broadcast on FS1 at 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the 2023 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket.