Memphis: Capps looks for repeat

Skoal Racing Report . . . Ron Capps Driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Green Camaro Funny Car The Race: 14th Annual AutoZone Nationals, Sept. 21-23, at Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis Standing: Fourth with 1127 points after...

Skoal Racing Report . . .
Ron Capps
Driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Green Camaro Funny Car

The Race:
14th Annual AutoZone Nationals, Sept. 21-23, at Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis

Standing:
Fourth with 1127 points after 18 of 24 NHRA Winston Series events.

Capps Keeps Eye on Second Place As Season Moves into Final Six Races

In horse racing parlance, Ron Capps and the Skoal Racing Green Camaro team are on the stretch run to the finish line. Six of 24 Winston Series races remain, and three of those will be contested in the next three weeks.

Rescheduling the Keystone Nationals at Reading, Pa., from last weekend until Oct. 5-7 means this event kicks off three straight weeks of competition. Capps doesn't mind. He's had success at Memphis (winning there last year) and Reading - now the bookends of the trio of races that are sandwiched around the NHRA Nationals at Joliet, Ill., Sept. 28-30.

"It's all down hill until the end of the year now," Capps said, "especially with the back-to-back-to-back races. It is a very crucial - probably one of the most crucial - parts of the year. We are trying to battle as best we can to finish as strong as we can. Like I've said before, if we can't finish first, we want to finish second. We did it last year and we want to do it again this year."

Though he currently resides in fourth place, the Carlsbad, Calif., driver is 116 points behind runner-up Whit Bazemore (1243-1127). Del Worsham is third (1134), while Tony Pedregon is fifth (1094) and Bruce Sarver sixth (1071) in the congested fight for No. 2 behind pacesetting John Force (1486).

"Obviously we are in a tight battle right now," said Capps. "In a matter of three races that whole shuffle from two through six could be completely reversed. We aren't only looking at the two spots ahead of us to move up, we are looking at the two spots behind us to make sure we don't trip over ourselves and let the guys we moved ahead of in Brainerd (Minn., where Capps won last month) get by us again.

"Our win at Memphis last year was great for our team but it was bittersweet because I had to watch my (Prudhomme Racing) teammate, Larry Dixon crash (in the Top Fuel final) at the top end," Capps continued. "That made it a little bit of a sad note. Once we found out he was OK we were able to celebrate a little bit.

"Ever since they made improvements to the track we've produced some pretty good times. Racing there in late September when we have cooler conditions has made it one of those tracks where you know you're going to run well."

Memphis Fans Like Prudhomme
"Snake is such a big fan favorite in Memphis," Capps said, "going back to the days when he was driving. He used to do things in Memphis and the fans appreciated it and they came around the pit area. The fans still come around and, because I'm the one driving for him, you can see how the fans feel about him.

"When I was changing planes in Memphis on the way to the Indianapolis race (Sept. 3), I was stopped four times by people who recognized me and said they couldn't wait to see us at the races. That tells me the fans always follow Snake and keep up with the drivers who race for him."

A Tall, and True, Tale
One of Capps' Memphis memories is not about a quick or fast run at the track. It's about the night he set the unofficial Funny Car wheelstand record.

"We almost flipped our car over in one of the funniest, or strangest, runs I've ever seen," he recalled. "The car went up and got stuck on its end and I happened to be the guy inside it. It was weird."

The front of Capps' Camaro came up during a Friday qualifying session in 1998 and continued up. It went up until it was perpendicular to the track - held up by the body's rear wing - before the front wheels returned to the track. It was the highest that veteran drag racing fans had ever seen a Funny Car.

The chassis, surprisingly, wasn't badly damaged from the incident.

-DPSR-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force