Capps set for Pomona in Brut Funny Car
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2005) - Ron Capps is both nervous and excited about beginning a new chapter in his NHRA drag-racing career this weekend at the 45th Annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals at Pomona Raceway, the season-opening event of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
After eight years with one team, one sponsor and one manufacturer, he has moved on and will compete in his first race as the driver of the all-new Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. He's also reuniting with his crew chief from 1999 to 2003, the legendary Ed "Ace" McCulloch, in what they both hope will be a championship season for the California native. Capps, of Carlsbad, Calif., has finished runner-up twice in the Funny Car class (1998, 2000), and is seeking his first Funny Car crown.
Following pre-season testing at The Strip in Las Vegas, where he ran his career fastest speed of 326.71 mph, and Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., Capps is impressed with the operation of the largest team in NHRA's pro history. (Don Schumacher's racing operation now totals eight pro teams.)
"Everything has gone as planned," he says. "You always wonder about the benefit, the upside and the downside, of having multi-car teams, but the way testing went, the way Ace and (co-crew chief) Dan Olson, Mike Neff (teammate Gary Scelzi's crew chief), Alan Johnson (Tony Schumacher's crew chief) and Lee Beard (Whit Bazemore's crew chief) and all the guys worked together was pretty awesome to watch.
"If the season goes like that, we're going to have a really good year for all the teams," he adds. "And it's going to be competitive. Just within the team it's going to be competitive, which can only raise the bar as far as everyone's performance is concerned," he says of the friendly rivalry that's bound to exist between him and his Funny Car teammates Bazemore and Scelzi.
"We're excited coming to Pomona," says Capps, the Funny Car winner here in 1998. "Pomona has always been a great race because everybody comes out with their new paint schemes and such and they've had all winter long to think about a championship and are ready to get started.
"Obviously for me being with a new team and having a sponsor like Brut come back in the sport is exciting. The Winternationals has a whole new meaning for me this year."
When he stepped into the Brut Funny Car for the first time at the Las Vegas tests, Capps said he was nervous and admits he still is at times. "Nervous? It's still there. It comes back," he says. "I get those butterflies again just showing up at the track. I thought my initial nervousness in Vegas was going to be it, but then it showed up in Phoenix. I slept at the track in the Monaco motor coach with the family and woke up that morning and I had them again.
"My daughter Taylor (8 years old) was driving the Junior Dragster at Firebird so I thought that had a lot to do with it. My brother Jon was going to drive an A-Fuel dragster at Pomona so he was there testing. There was a lot going on. But, Man, I walked into the pit area, saw the fans out there waiting and the butterflies came back. But, that's a good thing. Butterflies are good."