“Why is Dodge//SRT not offering factory support for two-time and reigning NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Ron Capps and his Ron Capps Motorsports NAPA Auto Parts team?” It’s a question we have continued to receive since the start of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Capps announced his departure from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) in December, after Capps’ Mopar teammates, Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan announced their intentions to move to Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSRs) new NHRA venture. Ron spent 17-years with the team, as a Mopar-backed factory driver for DSR.
So far into the 2022 season, Capps currently sits 3rd in the points standings with 1 win at the Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this month, using the same DSR-sourced chassis, engines, and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat bodies he used last year on his way to the championship.
However, on Thursday, Ron Capps Motorsports will begin fielding a Toyota GR Supra Funny Car at this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. Toyota made an official announcement about the deal just prior to race teams showing up at zMax. Ron Capps Motorsports will expand the footprint of Toyota Gazoo Racing North America (TGRNA) to three GR Supra Funny Cars competing for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series championship.
The move leaves just TSR’s Matt Hagan and Dodge//SRT & Mopar factory-backed driver and car-owner, Cruz Pedregon, the only two Dodge factory supported Funny Cars in NHRA Funny Car competition for the remainder of the season. A far cry from the four Funny Car teams, that DSR competed with only two seasons ago.
Hagan, (who currently leads the Funny Car point standings) has two wins this season at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals and the latest race at the NHRA Springnationals. Hagan’s Dodge Power Brokers team, led by veteran crew chief Dickie Venables has been the only Dodge//SRT & Mopar-backed team to show consistent results this season.
Dodge//SRT has expressed its interest in recent years with the NHRA, as the automaker has expanded its sponsorships efforts in the sport. It is unknown if Dodge is currently seeking out other potential teams to expand its Funny Car or Top Fuel efforts at this time. But it could be possible, that if the TSR Funny Car program continues to be successful that it could expand to two Funny Car offerings, along with Stewart’s wife, Leah Pruett’s factory-backed Top Fuel program.
Over the past year, rumors have been circling that Dodge could be getting ready to jump back into NASCAR competition for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season. Tony Stewart, who is a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, has been sighted as the possible person to usher the automaker back into the sport. The alignment of the automaker in Stewart’s NHRA efforts has been proven to be a good sign of the possible transition back into NASCAR.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps has been questioned several times by the media about the possibility of Dodge returning to the sport and has publicly said, “Our three existing OEMs are happy about that,” Phelps said. “Our race teams are happy about that. We’re happy about that. It’s been widely rumored that Dodge is one of those or closest. I won’t confirm or deny that. It is important. We’ve made no bones about the fact that we want to have a new OEM in our sport. I think we got delayed with the pandemic.”
So the big question is, did Dodge//SRT not pursue Capps and allow the reigning Funny Car champ to move to Toyota for support? Or is Dodge looking at refocusing its money efforts on a possible NASCAR return? We reached out to both Dodge//SRT and Ron Capps Motorsports for comment, but neither responded before the writing of this article.
Nevertheless, Ron Capps’ move to Toyota is a huge blow to those Dodge//SRT & Mopar NHRA fans out there. Between Hagan and Capps in 2022, a Dodge Charger Funny Car has competed in every final this season, thus far.