Pomona: Honorary crew member - Ken Muranaka

KEN MURANAKA OF CHINO HILLS NAMED FIRST NAPA AUTO PARTS HONORARY CREW MEMBER OF 2010 NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2010) - Ken Muranaka, equipment manager at Excel Paving of Long Beach, Calif., was named the first NAPA AUTO...

KEN MURANAKA OF CHINO HILLS NAMED FIRST NAPA AUTO PARTS HONORARY CREW MEMBER OF 2010 NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2010) - Ken Muranaka, equipment manager at Excel Paving of Long Beach, Calif., was named the first NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals.

Muranaka, 45, of Chino Hills, Calif., has been a drag racing fan for 30 years, and has attended this event every one of those years. "I used to stand on the outside of the fence before there were seats on the right side of the track," he said. "I used to be able to ride my bicycle up here and stand on the seat of my bicycle and look over the fence. That's how I watched the race. I only got to see some of it, but that's what I got to do."

Excel Paving, a construction company with a fleet of over 100 pickup trucks and medium-duty trucks, has worked with the Long Beach NAPA AUTO PARTS store for eight years. "The store meets the needs of the construction company by supplying all the parts we need when we need them," added Muranaka, who has been with Excel for 20 years and has managed the equipment shop for 10. "They treat me well."

Terry Drake, outside sales rep for NAPA Long Beach, helped present the award. He explained the selection process. "The opportunity came up during a meeting when the bosses were looking for somebody to promote for the Honorary Pit Crew Member," he said. "I heard about it and put his name in and, I guess, after consideration by the management, he's the one they chose. I was pretty excited about that and when I called him he was pretty excited, too.

"It took me about eight years to get into his fleet," added Drake. "It's a large fleet in Long Beach. One day I met Kenny and he gave me an opportunity to sell him parts and service them, and obviously we met his expectations and he's been buying from us ever since. He's one of my best customers. He's really fun to deal with. There's a lot of respect and loyalty there and it's something I appreciate. That's kind of hard to find these days."

Muranaka's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the Funny Car eliminations rounds today. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after each pass. Capps ended the day as Funny Car runner-up to 14-time champion John Force.

"It was great," he said. "Ron Capps is a really nice guy, I'm sure glad to have met him. I was very impressed with how the NAPA team put the car back together today when the rear-end broke between rounds. I think I'm going to be a Ron Capps fan for a while."

The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Muranaka's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member this weekend.

He also met and chatted with the entire NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car crew, was a special guest in the NAPA hospitality area throughout the weekend, received a NAPA team jersey, experienced an up-close-and-personal view of the NAPA crew as the team worked on the car, and enjoyed a private tour of the team transporter and pit area.

NAPA AUTO PARTS distribution centers at each NHRA event during the season have different criteria for choosing the persons who are potential NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Members.

-source: dsr/napa

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force