CAPPS REFLECTS ON SEASON, SHOOTS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT HOUSTON WIN CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 25, 2008) - It's been a tough 2008 NHRA season so far for Ron Capps, the driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T, who has battled for the NHRA...
CAPPS REFLECTS ON SEASON, SHOOTS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT HOUSTON WIN
CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 25, 2008) - It's been a tough 2008 NHRA season so far for Ron Capps, the driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T, who has battled for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship right down to the final event the last three years. After three races, he finds himself in 14th place in the standings following three first-round losses. It's still early in the 24-event schedule, and a third consecutive win at the NHRA Spring Nationals this weekend at Houston Raceway Park would propel him right back in the running.
Capps, who had entered this event the last two years in either first or second place, and left both times as the points leader after claiming victories in both, reflects on this season, the challenges it has presented, and what it will take to get back on top in his quest to garner his first Funny Car championship.
"We got spoiled a little bit with the success we've had the last three years," he said. "At this point of the season the last two years we were leading the points. It's been a strange beginning to the 2008 season. In particular, the rainouts we had in the last two events, where we only had two sessions of qualifying in Phoenix and Gainesville, really changed the weekend for all the teams. So, hopefully we'll get more than just two runs of qualifying in at Houston.
"When you're this far out of the points lead you go up to the starting line for first qualifying earlier than everybody else, which means you don't get to watch many good cars in front of you to see what the track's going to do, so that's a little bit of a disadvantage.
"We stayed and tested in Gainesville on Monday. I drove my car and I drove my teammate Gary Scelzi's car. It was good for me to get more laps in personally, and I think Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) was really working on making the NAPA Dodge a better car for down the road. Right now, I'm not even looking at getting into the Countdown; I'm looking at leading the points and grabbing any extra points going into the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day (when the top 10 teams to vie for the Countdown to One will be determined). We just need a good weekend in Houston to get back on track and get some laps under our belts.
"We've definitely had success in the past in Houston, especially winning two years in a row. Those two wins were huge. But you can't take anything from that. The cars this year are completely different with the extra nitro percentage (90 percent) and the addition of the (100 lbs.) weight.
"Houston is always a tough track to drive because the groove is so tricky. It's a great facility and the Angel family has always done whatever it took to make is as good as possible. I really love the place. I've always done well there and I look forward to going to Houston every year. The fact that we've won there the last two years is just icing on the cake.
"We need to go some rounds," adds Capps, who has been runner-up in the Funny Car championship three times since beginning his pro career in 1995. "We have run into some guys who took some great shots at us and defeated us early in the first three races. Where you qualify plays a lot into it, as well as having a little bit of luck. It's funny. When you look back at the round that we lost in Gainesville, it's probably a pretty good thing that we didn't make a full run or it could have been pretty disastrous at the other end of the track shutting down (when Cruz Pedregon's car exploded at the finish line, sending it into Capps' lane).
"Like I told everybody on the NAPA crew, it could always be worse, no matter what the situation. And we have it pretty darn good right now. We have a car that can win at any time."