Reconfigured and renamed, the Phoenix round this year will be something to watch.
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014) - Ron Capps started the 2014 season by garnering what might have been the biggest national audience ever for a drag racer.
A violent engine explosion during a qualifying run two weeks ago at the season-opener at Pomona, Calif., destroyed his Dodge Charger R/T body that garnered countless highlights on national and local newscasts.
The 48-year-old Southern California native who lives in Carlsbad near San Diego wants the spotlight at Phoenix to shine on him in the winner's circle for the 42nd time in his career and fourth at the track outside Chandler, Ariz., including the victory a year ago.
The facility will host its 30th annual NHRA national event but under new management for the first time. The track, which had been plagued with some bumps the past few years has mostly been repaved. About 600 feet of the dragstrip was removed and replaced with concrete.
"It will be kind of like going to a new track," said Ron, who holds the track elapsed time record of 4.023 seconds set in February 2009.
"I can't wait to go back. I've been getting emails from our local NAPA guys who went out to see what they've done, and they're excited. We have a huge contingent of NAPA customers who come to the track. It will be fun.
"A brand new surface can go either way, but Phoenix always produces good times. That track can get national record performances very easily.
"It's always been one of the most fun tracks we go to with a great diversity of fans. It was exciting last year to hear they were going to repave the track and make other improvements that excites you even more about going back to a track that you've loved going to anyway."
And he knows his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T can perform. Despite the loss of power from the engine detonation about 200 feet from the finish line at Pomona, Capps recorded a time of 4.014 seconds at a slowing 304.67 mph.
"We were on a run that the computer showed would have been in the 3.98-second range," said Ron, who with crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant John Collins produced the quickest ever run of 3.964 in May 2012.
"That made us feel a little better because we knew we had a great car under that body."
Capps, who was not injured, was able to qualify fifth on that run and advanced to the quarterfinals at Pomona.
Don Schumacher Racing