CAPPS SET FOR NORWALK RETURN CARLSBAD, Calif. (June 24, 2008) - Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, is ready to return to one of his favorite tracks on the tour, the quarter-mile ...
CAPPS SET FOR NORWALK RETURN
CARLSBAD, Calif. (June 24, 2008) - Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, is ready to return to one of his favorite tracks on the tour, the quarter-mile at Norwalk, Ohio. This weekend's NHRA Nationals is only the NHRA's second visit to the track, which was added to the schedule in 2007.
"We're always talking about how great Bruton Smith tracks are," said Capps, who lost to Kenny Bernstein in the first round of eliminations last year in Norwalk, "but Norwalk also has a great facility that we raced at for the first time last year. We'd all heard the stories about the big events they have on the Fourth of July and just how many people would show up, and we saw that in 2007.
"What the Bader family has done to accommodate the NHRA coming there for the first year was terrific. There was a smile on every driver's face and every crew chief's face. It is a neat place, so we're excited to be coming back, even though we lost first round last year."
This season has been tough for everyone in the Funny Car class, which has been enjoying 21-car fields. Qualifying in the top 16 has been a challenge, and Capps has the longest qualifying streak among active Funny Car drivers, 26 (tied with Tony Pedregon). He's No. 9 in the point standings and is aiming to move up the ladder to plant himself and the NAPA team solidly in the top 10 for the Countdown to the Championship, which begins following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
"It's been a strange season," said Capps. "Guys at the top of the points like Tim Wilkerson are just rattling off wins. It might seem to the fans like a lot of really good teams are struggling, but a prime example of how challenging this season has been is last weekend in Englishtown, when we lost that first round to Mike Neff. Up until that point our car would have posted the quickest run of that round and been one of the quickest of the overall round, and yet we got beat by somebody who stepped up and ran low elapsed time.
"It's those little tiny bits of luck that you need at times. But what I also think plays into it is the reputation that Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and the NAPA guys have of going down the track. And teams know they have to be on their best game against us. It's a compliment to our team, but it has also painted a target on us, because of how well we did last year.
"(Team owner) Don Schumacher is very involved with all of his teams and he knows we have a great car with Ed McCulloch tuning it. I feel very comfortable that we can win at any time and I also feel comfortable that we have a chance of setting low ET no matter whether it's in the cooler Friday night session or especially in the heat of a Saturday session.
"We don't like to talk about streaks, but we have a qualifying streak going. I bring this up to show how consistent our NAPA Dodge has been.
"The consistency is there, Ace has qualified us in the top half of the field every race here lately (last three events), and it's given us a boost because obviously it gives us lane choice first round. Where we are in the points is not indicative of how our car is running."
Capps lost his friend Scott Kalitta last week in Englishtown whom he'll miss this weekend. "With his dad Connie Kalitta being who he is and Scott being around him all his life you clearly couldn't have found a more versatile and talented nitro driver than Scott Kalitta," said Capps. "The guy's won races in both Funny Car and Top Fuel and championships in Top Fuel, and was driving a fuel Funny Car at a very young age. He is somebody I have definitely always looked up to. The world is not the same without him.
"One thing you always knew is where you stood with Scott. He always had some kind of smart aleck comment to give you a bad time about, and it was always fun to look forward to see what he was going to say to you." Capps let out a slight laugh when he said this, remembering Scott Kalitta and knowing he would not be racing with him again.