CAPPS BANKING ON TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS' MISSTEPS SONOMA, Calif. (July 28, 2005) - This season's NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship is just about anyone's to win. Granted, the top four in the standings have the best odds...
CAPPS BANKING ON TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS' MISSTEPS
SONOMA, Calif. (July 28, 2005) - This season's NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship is just about anyone's to win. Granted, the top four in the standings have the best odds to win the crown, but if some of the strong contenders continue to either stumble or not take advantage of the others stumbling, this title chase could either be a barn-burner right to the bitter end or an easy drive into the sunset for one driver.
Ron Capps, who pilots the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, is in fourth place and is one of those who has benefited from another's stumbling. After defeating 13-time champion John Force in the first round in St. Louis, he went on to win his first race of the season.
Force has since lost two more first rounds, but Capps and his team tuned by Ed "Ace" McCulloch have not been able to take advantage of those missteps, first by losing in the second round in Denver and then the first round in Seattle. Meanwhile, rookie Robert Hight, with a win in Denver and a runner-up finish in Seattle, has leap-frogged past Force and Capps' teammate Gary Scelzi to take a strong lead in points.
Hight is 84 ahead of Force, who is 11 in front of Scelzi, while Capps is 50 points behind his teammate and 145 out of first place (989-905-894-844).
This weekend's Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway marks the last event of the three-race Western Swing and Capps is geared up to advance himself further up the charts. The California native won here in 1997, was runner-up in 2002 and qualified No. 1 in 1998.
"I hate to say it, because I said it last weekend in Seattle," Capps said cautiously, "but, I've always done well at Sonoma. I've won here, I've had a lot of great results here. I'm hoping I get the same results again. You hate to say that and not have a good weekend. It's like a karma thing.
"Force stumbled in St. Louis and we took advantage, but we just didn't expect to see him struggle in Denver and Seattle and go out early. "The key is to take advantage of it and we have not. That's how you're going to win championships, by taking advantage of those weekends.
"And Hight's out there. I think Robert has done a great job in the car. He's got a lot of pressure on him and he's really responded to that. He made some rookie mistakes early in the season, but If his rookie mistakes are over, we might all be in trouble."
Infineon Raceway is one of Capps' favorite tracks. "For me this is kind of a home track because I lived up here for seven years, in the Bay area, so I get a lot of friends and family coming to this event. I used to teach racquetball and I played in racquetball tournaments in the area through college. It's always been a good track for me and I've always done well here.
"Since Bruton Smith came in and turned the whole facility into a first-class place to race, it's been a pleasure to come here."