Atlanta: Ron Capps preview

Capps, Green Skoal Racing crew hope to rekindle round-winning efforts at Southern Nationals. COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2002 - The Atlanta Dragway form chart shows Ron Capps as the runner-up in both the 2000 and 2001 Southern...

Capps, Green Skoal Racing crew hope to rekindle round-winning efforts at Southern Nationals.

COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2002 - The Atlanta Dragway form chart shows Ron Capps as the runner-up in both the 2000 and 2001 Southern Nationals events.

Given those results, Capps and his Green Skoal Racing crew are quite likely to be considered among the favorites when the Summit Racing Equipment-sponsored race unfolds this weekend at the track. It's a position he'd like to be in, too.

"I feel very good about our chances," said Capps, who comes to Commerce looking to end a two-race blip that has seen him lose in the first round twice and drop to seventh in points. "We've shown that we can excel when the conditions are hot and demanding, like we expect them to be this weekend. I feel good when we get back to a track like that. We've done well there, too, and it's another place where you are glad to visit again."

Capps was holding steady in fourth until his first opening-round loss at Houston (April 14) that put him sixth. He was upset again Sunday at Bristol, Tenn., and slipped another position. It was frustrating because Capps won there the year before.

"We started off well at Bristol by going out and qualifying with at 4.907 seconds that put us in the top four and we stayed there, Capps recalled. "The car was going down the track and it was quite surprising that we ended up blowing the tires off the car in the first round against Todd Patton. We thought the tune-up was safe and we thought we had an opportunity to make up some points on some of the other drivers.

"When you've won a race and get a couple weeks off it's always a nice couple of weeks, but when you're struggling a little bit, it helps to have another race the next weekend."

The Funny Car category today is as competitive, if not more so, than it was in 2001.

While he is seventh with 320 points, Capps is still within 139 of leader John Force's 459 and Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of the Blue Skoal Racing entry, is fourth with 372.

"You have to prove yourself all the time out here," Capps said. "It's still early in the year but you can't keep saying that because we are six races in and we have to keep our heads down and grind it out."

Q - What hurt most about Sunday's early loss?

A - We weren't able to take advantage of Force going out in the first round at Bristol when he lost to Tommy. He also went out early at Gainesville and if you can't take advantage of those it gets to be the end of the year and you sit back and look at what happened and say, "my gosh, if we could've done this and that we might've been able to fix those problems."

We were very comfortable going into the first round and confident we could get past the first half of the track. We were working on the second half to try and run a low 4.90 or a high 4.80. It took me by surprise.

Q - What makes Atlanta Dragway a difficult track for the crew chiefs?

A - It's a very demanding track because the humidity and heat with the sun beating down on it all day makes it a nightmare for all the crew chiefs. You really have to tip-toe around there. Our crew chief, Ed "Ace" McCulloch, has shown his savvy with the track.

For the Record . . .
Actually, Capps has been to the final round at Atlanta Dragway three times. The first was in 1995 when he was driving a Top Fuel dragster. He finished second to Cory McClenathan then but came back three months later to beat McClenathan in the finals at Seattle.

-sr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Cory McClenathan , Tommy Johnson Jr.