Richmond: Ron Capps preview

CAPPS' VIRGINIA COUNTDOWN MEMORIES PROVIDE HOPE CARLSBAD, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2008) - Ron Capps was in a fierce battle for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship at this time last year at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia...

CAPPS' VIRGINIA COUNTDOWN MEMORIES PROVIDE HOPE

CARLSBAD, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2008) - Ron Capps was in a fierce battle for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship at this time last year at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. He recalled the drama as he anticipated his return to this weekend's third annual event in Petersburg, Va.

"Last year was an incredibly emotional event," said Capps, No. 10 in the points rankings driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. "(Don Schumacher Racing teammate) Gary Scelzi and I basically had to go to the final round to advance to the Countdown to 1 (for the top four). We hadn't done well in qualifying (No. 15), but as race day went on, knowing that we had to keep advancing to even be a part of the Countdown at the next race in Las Vegas, we kept winning these hard rounds.

"We had Robert Hight in the first round, which is a team you don't want to see until the final round. We won that round and we kept going. It was bittersweet because our teammate Jack Beckman was in front of us in points and was actually in the Countdown to 1 prior to that race, but the fact that Scelzi and I went to the final round knocked Jack out of the Countdown to 1. I was happy for Gary and me, but we were upset that we had to eliminate our teammate.

"Talk about elation. I was happy to be in the final round, but that was one of the few times that I wasn't so unhappy that we didn't win a final round. I was racing my teammate Scelzi and we both just clinched our spots in the Countdown to 1 and the race track gave us great lanes, which is hard to come by.

"You look at this year and lane choice at every race has been so important. I think what was cool in Virginia last year was that the track was so even all day. And I talked to some NHRA officials this week and they said they have done some more grinding on the track and that it will be better this weekend than it was last year.

"It's definitely a different scenario this time," Capps said of his struggles this season to win his first Funny Car championship. "We're not completely eliminated from winning the championship, but for all intents and purposes, the championship is not going to happen for the NAPA team this year. So, it's going to be interesting to see what will happen with the different approach."

With 12 rounds of racing left in the final three races of the season (240 points plus qualifying points), Capps is 226 behind leader Tim Wilkerson.

"Watching the other very good teams that didn't even make it into the Countdown come alive, I see that it can really change your approach to each race. When you are involved in the Countdown it's much like being in the playoffs in any sport. So, I think being able to go in there and not have the pressure of being on top in the championship hunt, we can try some things that we would have been afraid to try on race day or during qualifying previously. For that reason I think you're going to see a different NAPA AUTO PARTS team show up in Richmond.

"Who knows? Maybe it will help us do well in Virginia, and we may be able to learn something we can use next year."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight