Baytown: Ron Capps preview

Capps expects more tight Funny Car racing during O'Reilly Spring Nationals. BAYTOWN, Texas, April 10, 2002 - Four races, four different winners. John Force, Del Worsham, Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham have had victory celebrations and there have...

Capps expects more tight Funny Car racing during O'Reilly Spring Nationals.

BAYTOWN, Texas, April 10, 2002 - Four races, four different winners. John Force, Del Worsham, Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham have had victory celebrations and there have been four different runners-up - Worsham, Force, Gary Scelzi and Tommy Johnson Jr. Those results indicate this early fight for supremacy just might last throughout the 23-race schedule.

"I'm not surprised," commented Ron Capps, driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Green Skoal Racing Camaro and a teammate of Johnson. "Everybody has been running really well. The results now show it is more than one car that's stepping up. It helps the class and it helps put a little more pressure on Force, who has dominated for the last decade."

And while he hasn't been to a final round yet, Capps ranks fourth in points with 252, merely 56 behind Force. He does have two semifinal-round visits and a pair of quarterfinal appearances on his 2002 docket and an opportunity to rectify the situation at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Houston Raceway Park.

"All the teams have just as good a chance as everyone else," Capps added. "If you look at last Sunday's qualifying ladder, there was no one you could've picked who you'd rather run in the first round. And you have to do everything right all day long to win a race right now. The playing field is so level."

Capps faltered on Sunday in Las Vegas when his car's tires lost traction early in the run and he was beaten by Tim Wilkerson.

Here are Capps' answers to a few more questions:

Q - What are you expecting at Houston Raceway Park this weekend?

I think we'll see warm conditions like we had at Las Vegas last weekend, but the thing about going to Houston is we're going from the high desert of Las Vegas (altitude approximately 2100 feet) to close to sea level with much higher humidity. The humidity is going to play a factor in the performances. That's another reason you'll be seeing the crew chiefs pulling their hair out. When you get high humidity it robs the oxygen from the air, and that makes the engines work harder.

When we have conditions like that it's beneficial that we have two Skoal Racing Funny Cars because we'll get double data. We're still within striking distance of the point lead going into Houston. If it cools down, it could be a very, very fast track. If it doesn't cool down, it's going to be a very tricky track, like Las Vegas. That gives me a lot of confidence going in there.

Q - Only two Funny Car drivers improved their Friday night qualifying times in Saturday's two sessions at Las Vegas. Is there now a premium on making a good run on Friday night?

Friday night is it. You can't say there's no use trying to adapt to the better conditions because they are probably going to be the best you'll see all weekend. You really need to have your act together when you race at places like Las Vegas and Houston. We almost set the field last Friday night based on everybody's qualifying runs. Guys need to take their shot and get qualified and use Saturday to concentrate on the race day tune-up. That's what we try to do.

Q - Have you done well at Houston Raceway Park?

I've done well there. That's where I ran the first 315-mph speed in Funny Car in 1997 . . . and I've not qualified there, too. There are certain tracks where drivers just don't seem to do well. I don't feel so terrible about not always doing well there. For us, it just makes us concentrate and try to do better to show there isn't any kind of hex or anything superstitious about it.

Q - Would you please give us a quick synopsis of last weekend's Las Vegas race?

We had a game plan of getting in the show on Friday's first qualifying run and stand on it a bit in the second session and everything went as planned. We ran 5.064, then a 4.932, which put us seventh overall.

For some reason we had problems with the clutch welding together during the runs and pulling the tires loose about 300 feet down track. We got to the quarterfinals before losing to Tim Wilkerson. We learned quite a bit more about this new tire we're using and what it likes, so it wasn't all bad."

For the Record . . .
Capps is fourth in points with 252. Force leads with 308, followed by Worsham at 288 and Gary Densham at 286. Capps is the only one in the top four who hasn't won a race yet.

-sr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.