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Capps Gives Mentor Props To Cup’s Elliott

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 15 2017

Funny Car driver Ron Capps looked to a NASCAR superstar during his early years in the NHRA. (RacinToday/HHP by Jim Fluharty)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps begins defense of his crown the same weekend that Chase Elliott opens his NASCAR title hopes in his playoffs, but the bond between the two goes beyond sharing the same sponsor – NAPA Auto Parts.

Capps looked up to Chase’s father, Bill, when he was growing up in California, and it was the 1988 NASCAR champion who came to Capps’ rescue in 1995 at a corporate function in Atlanta. It was Capps’ rookie season in Top Fuel and the NHRA had sent him to the Coca-Cola hosted event.

“There were some Olympians, some major league baseball and pro football and a bunch of different athletes. I was a rookie and nobody knew who I was,” Capps recalled Thursday prior to the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.  

“Representing NASCAR was Bill Elliott. I stood over in a corner and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t talk; I couldn’t speak in front of the public.”

Bill noticed Capps and that he was uncomfortable. That night, he took the young drag racer under his wing.

“He calmed me. He talked to me the whole night so I didn’t have to stand there by myself like a kid at his first prom,” the now 52-year-old Capps said. “I’m grateful for that night. I understood why he was always voted the Most Popular driver at that point.”

Ron Capps will attempt to open the Countdown with a victory in Concord, N.C. this weekend. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA Drag Racing Series)

Since then Capps has mentioned that night to the elder Elliott a couple of times. Now that he and 21-year-old Chase Elliott often make appearances together for NAPA, Capps believes everything has “come full circle.”

“I told Chase the story the first time I saw him,” Capps said. “It’s been neat to watch Chase come up and now that he’s getting the No. 9 next year which is so cool.”

No. 9 was the car number used by Bill for most of his NASCAR career.

“Every race I get to go to I watch his mom and dad gleam,” Capps said. “Bill is in his own mode, but to watch what he does during a race he still has a way of getting ready for a race even though he’s watching his son. It’s just fun to watch. It’s been a pleasure to have Chase as a NAPA teammate.”

Earlier this year, Capps attended the NASCAR race at Phoenix and, again, he and Bill spent some time conversing.

“He was telling me about this fun stuff he does in Colorado with motorcycles,” Capps said. “He’s just a down-to-earth guy.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 15 2017
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