Ron Capps amped to roll into Pomona as defending champ

Ron Capps won his first NHRA Funny Car title in his 20th year of trying in 2016. (Photo: Don Schumacher Racing)

Ron Capps has raced with the No. 28 since his making his NHRA Funny Car debut back in 1997.

“The only way I’d change it would be if I won a championship,” stated Capps.

Finally for the 51-year-old Californian, he will roll into the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this weekend with the No. 1 on the side of his Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.

“There is going to be a lot of firsts for me even after this long of a career,” added Capps, who won his first NHRA Funny Car championship in 2016. “The first time I hear NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart introduce me as ‘Your defending Funny Car World Champion’ is going to be a first for me. That is going to be neat.

“Another first is trying to defend our title.”

Last year, Capps’ title hunt started off on the right foot, with a win in Pomona, California, at the 2016 season-opening Circkle K NHRA Winternationals.

“Anytime you can start the season off great, it’s cool,” said Capps, “but the Winternationals holds such a historic value to our sport. It’s a great race and with the conditions we see this time of year, you know it’s going to be fast.”

Capps best memory from Auto Club, however, comes at the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals last November, where he clinched the title.

“When we clinched at the track last year and had all those fans there, it was something else. It just fit our team perfectly and it was great to enjoy that moment with our fans.

“Walking through the house and seeing the trophy is amazing. I’m lucky my wife has allowed me to put the trophy in the house where it is, right when you walk in the door. Walking into the house or out of the house, walking by that trophy every day, I can’t explain it to someone who hasn’t gone through it.”

Capps was second fastest to Courtney Force during preseason testing in Phoenix, despite trying multiple new things on his car, including a new 2017 chassis.

“I’m pretty blessed that I get to jump into a car Rahn Tobler has had his fingers on all winter long,” said Capps. “I don’t know if we have had a target on our backs in the past. There is no better compliment to get from a competitor in NHRA than for them to tell you that when they race you it brings out the absolute best in them. That is the ultimate compliment to get from another racer and we get that a lot.”

LIVE coverage of final eliminations from Pomona begins at 4 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX.