BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16, 2022) – There are several reasons why Brainerd International Raceway is a special place for reigning Funny Car world champion Ron Capps, but the incredible atmosphere at the facility is certainly among them. He’s eager to experience it at this weekend’s 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, where a legion of fans will again be extra excited to cheer on the longtime standout.
The special “Capps Corner” portion of “The Zoo” campgrounds is filled with Capps aficionados, and they’ll be out in full force this weekend as the two-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world champ looks to build momentum for the Countdown to the Championship.
He’s put together a solid season in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra, winning twice, advancing to three final rounds, and picking up four No. 1 qualifiers. Capps also has no trouble getting amped up for what will be another special weekend in Brainerd, where he’s put together an impressive six victories at the track.
“We do something pretty cool for a living and sometimes you forget that while you’re competing, and you really feel like a rockstar when you go there to ‘The Zoo,’” Capps said. “The fans love it. They come out to the race for you and when you go out there to see them, it’s so cool. There’s a fine line to enjoying the Brainerd race like our fans do and also keeping your game face on and we’ve found a way to walk that line. We’ll all go out there together, but just that mojo and feeding off the fans, it’s so fun and always a fun race for us.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) won the 2021 event, and this year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the FOX broadcast network, including eliminations coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX on Sunday, Aug. 21. It is the 15th of 22 races during the 2022 season and penultimate race in the regular season.
Capps won three straight at the track from 2012-2014 and his latest victory in Brainerd came in 2019, which is a victory he’ll always remember, mostly due to the post-race scene in “The Zoo” with the Wally, something he’ll try to repeat this weekend.
“We cruised around every campground with the Wally and people were so excited to get their pictures with it and with our team,” Capps said. “It was so much fun. There were so many pictures floating around that next week, and I think that Sunday night made a lot of people’s weekends.”
It would certainly make Capps’ weekend to add another victory this season leading into Indy and the Countdown to the Championship. Of course, it won’t be easy against a loaded Funny Car lineup that features points leader Robert Hight, who has an incredible six wins this year, defending event winner Hagan, longtime rival John Force, who has 11 Brainerd wins, Topeka winner Bob Tasca III and Cruz Pedregon, but Capps likes how his team is performing heading to crunch time.
With ideal temperatures slated for Brainerd, it could also be a weekend of massive runs, something that suits Capps, who has 70 career victories, just fine.
“Every driver and crew chief are looking at that forecast, and Brainerd is always fast,” Capps said. “Conditions like this, you could see some records fall. As a Funny Car driver, it’s a great, great surface there and we’re all pumped up. I feel good about our team and we’re doing a good job of implementing some different things within qualifying. But you have to be Countdown ready when you leave Brainerd. You go to Indy trying to win the race, so Brainerd is the last spot to get the car right and ready for the Countdown.”
Torrence became a first-time winner at Brainerd last year in Top Fuel, which also gave him a victory at every track on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit. The Texan finished the year with his fourth straight world title, but Torrence will need to be on his game against a loaded Top Fuel field. It’s led by Brittany Force, who has four wins and the points lead, and also features a litany of stars like Mike Salinas, another four-time winner in 2022, three-time Brainerd winner Tony Schumacher, Justin Ashley, who has two wins this season, Doug Kalitta, Denver winner Leah Pruett, Josh Hart, Clay Millican, Topeka winner Antron Brown, and Austin Prock