CAPPS GOES FOR GATORS THREE-PEAT CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 10, 2008) - Ron Capps is aiming for a Gatornationals three-peat this weekend at the third event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series at Gainesville Raceway. The driver of the NAPA...
CAPPS GOES FOR GATORS THREE-PEAT
CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 10, 2008) - Ron Capps is aiming for a Gatornationals three-peat this weekend at the third event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series at Gainesville Raceway. The driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car has won the Funny Car class two straight years at this famed event, taking out John Force in 2006 and Phil Burkart last year. He was also runner-up in 2000 to his new Don Schumacher Racing teammate this season, Jerry Toliver.
In fact, Don Schumacher Racing teams have won at least one of the classes each year since 2004 at the Gatornationals, and team owner Don Schumacher was a Funny Car runner-up in 1973 and '74, and set top speed in 1973.
Also, Capps' crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch is a four-time Gainesville Funny Car titlist (1972, 1986, 1989, 1990).
"It's funny," said Capps, "and I've said this before. Gainesville is one of those races that you'd love to win and have that trophy on your mantle. When I won it the first year I was just beside myself. I was on a cloud for a couple of weeks. I just couldn't believe we had won the Gatornationals. Then to go back and do it again was just unbelievable because that event has such history and it's just an incredible race.
"It's always had this outstanding reputation because the first 300-mph run was set there. But the time of year we go there it seems like the track is always a little bit tricky because of that Florida sun beating down on it. I think what's really made us so successful is that Ed McCulloch and our NAPA AUTO PARTS team have done so well to figure the track out and work on getting down the track run by run."
After a slow launch to the 2008 season, perennial battler for the Funny Car championship Capps is ready for a team resurgence.
"This year, for the first time in many years, we've lost first round in the first two races of the year," added Capps who is still seeking his first Funny Car crown. "What ends up happening is, because of the success that we've had the last few years as one of the guys fighting for the championship at the end of the year, it puts a target on our backs and guys take shots at us when they race us. And that's going to be part of it. We expect it and it's a compliment to our team. And I feel the same about a lot of the guys out there.
"It reminds me of being a gunfighter in the old days. You have to show up with your absolute best game every time because they're looking to put a notch in their belts when they race you, whether it's a shot at the tree or a shot at the tune-up."
Capps and the NAPA team have faced and dealt with other challenges presented to them this season. "We've had to really re-figure our car with the added weight (100 pounds this year)," said Capps, "and it's a completely different race car. We tested in Firebird Raceway on Monday and we feel very comfortable going into Gainesville.
"That Monday in Phoenix looked like a full national event, as most of the teams stayed to test. We were there to make huge changes to our car, something that a crew chief just doesn't do too often, but we felt we needed to. So, the numbers we ran compared to everybody else's were great numbers. But what excited me, Ace and the NAPA guys was the changes that we made and the fact that the sun came out that day and allowed us to test in the conditions we wanted to, which were non-mineshaft conditions, if you will.
"It was a very good test and it's a completely different race car. I can tell by driving it, I can tell by the sound of the car and the way it feels, and it excites me because the added weight has changed our approach to everything, and it's better now.
"Our first goal on Friday in Gainesville is to qualify, get in the show and work on our race day setup, like we've always done. I'm just having so much fun right now racing with Ace and the guys. It's fun to go back to a place where we've had the success that we've had, but, trust me, you cannot look back at that success and rely on is because if you start to rely on it and use it as a crutch, then you're in deep trouble."