A year after getting his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series four-wide racing victory, Funny Car standout Ron Capps hopes the debut of the biggest spectacle in drag racing on the West Coast will lead to similar results.
In 2017, Capps won the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, leaving him comfortable and confident for this weekend’s 19th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the first four-wide race in Las Vegas. Sensing the massive anticipation brewing for this unique event, Capps hopes he can deliver another impressive performance in his 10,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T while seeking his first win of 2018.
“As a racer, you love the excitement and without a doubt, I think you’re going to see two sold-out days,” said Capps, the 2016 Funny Car world champion. “It’s great seeing this type of excitement from the West Coast for this race, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Last year, getting a four-wide trophy was big, and this is going to be cool.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, April 8. It is the fourth of 24 races during the 2018 NHRA season and, despite some big changes before the year, Capps and his team – led by crew chief Rahn Tobler – are off to a solid start.
They made a major transition to the six-disc clutch setup, but are further along than they even expected, advancing to two semifinals, including one in Gainesville, Fla. Capps felt like they let at least one early season win get away, but sitting fourth in points, the veteran standout believes the team is in a good place in a loaded class.
“It’s a completely different tune-up and setup, so it’s been a good start and I feel like we’re ahead of schedule,” said Capps, who has 58 career wins. “We’re excited to be as good as we were the last couple races. I don’t feel like I’m talking out of school to say I see our team rattling off some wins real soon. I don’t see it being out of the question that we can rattle off wins like we did last year.”
Capps did it at an impressive pace in 2017, winning four straight races at one point and finishing with eight overall wins in-route to a second-place finish for the season. That type of hot streak will be hard to replicate, especially against a loaded class that includes Don Schumacher, racing teammates Jack Beckman, who won in Gainesville, points leader Matt Hagan and defending event winner Johnson, as well as defending world champion Robert Hight, Phoenix winner Courtney Force and class newcomer Shawn Langdon.
But those names are also just the beginning in the star-studded class, and Capps knows it. He sees incredible depth in Funny Car, one reason why strong early season performances are necessary and why Capps is angling to have a big weekend.
“There’s so many good cars, and if you leave them out of the conversation, they can bite you in a heartbeat,” Capps said. “The class has just continued to grow, and it’s amazing how many full-time cars there are in Funny Car. I did a radio interview, and I was asked to make a list of who is going to make the (Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship) and as you go down the list, you realize there’s way more good full-time cars than spots for the Countdown.
“It’s going to be very interesting.”
Brown earned his second straight win at the spring Vegas race in Top Fuel in 2017 and is seeking his first win in 2018 against the likes of points leader Steve Torrence, Gainesville winner Richie Crampton and defending World Champion Brittany Force.
Gray became the youngest Pro Stock winner in NHRA history a year ago and just won in Gainesville. He’ll face off with points leader Bo Butner, Jason Line and Erica Enders, among others.
This event will play host to the K&N Horsepower Challenge for eight top Pro Stock drivers. Bragging rights and a hefty $50,000 paycheck are on the line for the Saturday specialty race. Greg Anderson has won the last two consecutive K&N Horsepower Challenge races.
The event also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series. After nitro qualifying on Friday, the Segal Motorsports Fire Starter, American Freedom Fighter & Lucas Oil Muy Caliente Jet Cars will thrill the fans. Known for their pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust-driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 7, at 12:10 and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 8. To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (702) 644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA, visit www.NHRA.com.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
The Plaza Hotel & Casino, located at #1 Main Street, has installed on its casino floor approximately 75,000 square feet of brand-new carpet that was designed exclusively for the iconic property to visually epitomize its iconic brand and downtown Las Vegas flair. its unique design and inspiration by management gives the hotel that newness feeling and is just one of the many casino-hotel upgrades underway at the downtown location. And, it’s a fun story!
Designed by Sarit Werner, an experienced graphic artist for several national brands, the carpet’s repeat pattern features a variety of colorful elements and icons related to gaming, the desert, and the Rat Pack era of Las Vegas when the Plaza first opened in 1971. Some of the graphics featured in the carpet include: starbursts, high heels, lips, showgirls, palm trees, roses, flowers, fireworks, cherries, dice, gambling chips, martini glass with olives, diamonds, hearts, spades, clubs, hearts, sunglasses, and bubbles.
Werner’s inspiration for the one-of-a-kind carpet design came from the vintage Vegas brand of the Plaza complimented by modern artistic influences such as the murals by Shepherd Fairy, D’Face and Faile on the Plaza’s North Tower, posters by Tadanori Yokoo, textiles of Josef Frank, and comic pop art by Roy Lichtenstein. Overall, she sought to visually present the excitement and fun of the casino while paying homage to the vintage Vegas vibe of the Plaza and downtown Las Vegas.
“Installing new carpet is not always very exciting, but at the Plaza, we wanted to have fun with it,” said Jonathan Jossel, Plaza CEO. “Working with Sarit, an experienced graphic designer, we were able to embody Las Vegas’ heritage and flair into the carpet pattern that is exclusive to the Plaza. The design is bright, unique, and eye-catching. It has become a conversation piece that reflects the fun people have at the Plaza, and we are excited to have it on our casino floor.”
Creating the final product took several months. After an initial visit to the Plaza and preliminary concept sketches, Werner designed each of the more than two dozen individual graphics of the carpet and then arranged them into a unique, non-directional pattern. She then worked closely with a leading flooring manufacturer to achieve the final repeat pattern, fine tones and nuances of the carpet’s cut and looped texture.
On the casino floor, the repeat pattern is used on the main walkways. Four 15-foot medallions with a complimentary stars and fireworks design are located where the pathways meet.
The feedback on the carpet has been overwhelmingly positive. Photos of the new carpet have attracted tens of thousands of impressions on social media, getting noticed by tourists, media, and celebs like Holly Madison.
Matt Dorman is a Las Vegas-based performing BMI songwriter, who is celebrating twenty years of dedication, performing monthly performance concerts at West Care’s Women and Children’s campus. Matt’s first radio song release was “Shadows on The Wall”, released by artist Jerry Hanlon, in 1995, on the UAR Records CD “Living on Dreams, A Songwriter’s Tribute”. “Shadows” escalated to the top five on some international charts. Dorman has had songs on 17 artist’s CD’s, with eight charted radio releases.
His first title cut, “Country Nights”, was released on UAR records and his first number one song, “Dreams”, released by artist Cheryl K Warner, spent 42 weeks on the Roots International Top 100 chart, and six-weeks at the number one spot on that chart. Matt’s first movie cut was his song “Fear on Fear”, used in the movie “Little Glory,” starring Cameron Bright from the “Twilight” saga, and Hannah Murray, from “Game of Thrones”. “Little Glory” was released to theaters in 2012 and 2015 world-wide.
Currently, the band “Dorman” is being guided by the talents of Chuck Foley, the Assistant Professor of Music Technology at UNLV, and manager of the UNLV Recording Studio. Foley has produced award-winning recordings of the UNLV Jazz Ensemble, and recorded artists such as Gladys Knight, Santa Fe, Howie Mandel, and Bill Champlin. Foley has been a recording engineer and session guitarist since the 70’s, and graduated Magna cum laude from UNLV in 1996.
The band had its first public appearance at a tail-gate party during the NASCAR race last March 4, along with Jim Nordgren, Victor D’Agostino, and vocalist Cindiana. Keep an ear out for a new release coming out soon, ‘Granny’s Got A Tramp Stamp.
Well, gang, that’s it for this week.
I’m outa here!