RON CAPPS AND BRUT DODGE TEAM AIM TO START WHERE THEY LEFT OFF IN POMONA CARLSBAD, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2006) - Ron Capps, driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, has several important missions as the 2006 NHRA POWERade...
RON CAPPS AND BRUT DODGE TEAM AIM TO START WHERE THEY LEFT OFF IN POMONA
CARLSBAD, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2006) - Ron Capps, driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, has several important missions as the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season kicks off at the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals this weekend at Pomona Raceway.
Capps and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch came on strong in the last third of the 2005 season to take the battle for Capps' first Funny Car crown to the final event at Pomona. All three drivers in the closest Funny Car fight in NHRA history went out in the second round, and Capps' teammate Gary Scelzi took the title by just eight points over Capps. John Force came in third.
The California native's missions this weekend are to pick up where the Brut Dodge team left off by qualifying high in the field, leaving Pomona with good points and not letting preseason testing numbers by his competitors affect the team's attitude and focus, as he and the Brut crew embark on their quest to win the 2006 Funny Car championship.
"I feel very fortunate right now that there's not a whole lot changed on our Brut Dodge team," said Capps. "I can tell you that 90 percent of my crew is back and that excites me. The guys could not wait a week after last season was over to get back on the track. And that's something you don't ever hear. That's how much excitement there is for the '06 season to see if we can win a championship.
"I've always said that you can't win the championship at Pomona in February, but you can definitely lose it. And you just need to have a good race. If you can win Pomona it's a great start, but there's not too many times you've seen the winner at Pomona guaranteed a championship trophy at the end of the year. In fact, it's been not the case more often. You really just want to have a good start to the season."
Qualifying well at Pomona and the rest of the season is key, said Capps. "Ace really concentrated on qualifying higher in the last third of last season. You look at the eight points that we lost. There's a lot of ways to look at it, and one of them is we might have won the championship if we had gained those eight points in qualifying. You're going to see a drastic difference, I think, in the way we qualify."
As for John Force's stellar numbers in preseason testing in Las Vegas and Phoenix, Capps responded, "We know Force's team is a great team. The team's three cars always run well, but I also want to remind everybody that preseason testing is preseason testing. There are cool weather conditions you may never see again, and there are a lot of things that are being tried. There are a lot of guys who ran real hard in testing who were hurting a lot of parts. And cars that leaked on the track. We know that once the season starts we'll start getting fined and have points taken away for things like that. So, you're going to see guys running a little bit different at the national events.
"When you look back at the testing numbers, I know our team never went full power to the finish line on all of our good runs. We ran several low 4.70 (-second elapsed times) and I was clicking it off before 1000 feet. Testing is not an indication of how things are going to end up at Pomona."
Capps also expects this season to be even tougher than last. "You saw a lot of teams improve their performance as the season progressed last year, like Cruz and Tony Pedregon, and, of course, Del Worsham winning Indy," he added. "Teams that may not have been one of the three battling for the championship at the end of the year, but who sure finished convincingly. So, that tells you it's going to be a very, very tough Pomona to kick off the new season. You can't count anybody out. There are a lot of variables, with teams coming in with new sponsors and new teams.
"We say it every year that it's going to be tough, but I truly believe this is definitely going to be the toughest season in the history of Funny Car."