Brainerd: Ron Capps preview

Capps, Green Skoal Racing crew anxious to return to Brainerd following good performance at Sonoma, calif. BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 12, 2002 - It didn't take Ron Capps long to exorcise the pain of a close loss to his nemesis on August 4. There...

Capps, Green Skoal Racing crew anxious to return to Brainerd following good performance at Sonoma, calif.

BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 12, 2002 - It didn't take Ron Capps long to exorcise the pain of a close loss to his nemesis on August 4.

There were too many positives to dwell on a losing margin of a mere three-thousandths of a second to John Force in the final round of the Fram/Autolite Nationals at Sonoma, Calif. And, he believes, the future of his Green Skoal Racing Funny Car will be better - not because of the loss, but because of its race-day performance.

"I think everyone on our crew is anxious to get back to racing," said Capps, "because our next race is at Brainerd (Minn.), where we've always seemed to run well."

Capps, in fact, is the defending Funny Car champion of the Rugged Liners Nationals that unfolds Aug. 16-18 at Brainerd International Raceway. In five previous visits to BIR, Capps has two wins (2001, 1998) and one runner-up (1997, his first year driving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Camaro).

"We ran well there last year and Ace (crew chief Ed 'The Ace' McCulloch) seemed to have a great handle on the tune-up," Capps added.

Judging from the Green Skoal Camaro's elapsed times at Sonoma, McCulloch likely has a handle on the tune-up again. Capps went down the track on five successive runs - including his final qualifying attempt - with his slowest time 4.956 seconds, and that came against Force's winning 4.963 in the title round. He qualified seventh with a 4.939, opened eliminations with a 4.936, and then added a round-best 4.916 in the quarterfinals and a 4.918 in the semifinals.

The last time Capps ran consistent race-day numbers like that was at Las Vegas in October when he won the AC-Delco Nationals with four 4.8-second times.

"Our car is running well now, but we have struggled," commented Capps. "It's more aggravating knowing you have the capability, the tools and the people to win the championship, but, for whatever reasons, you can't. The Funny Car class is the toughest it's ever been. On top of that, you have to have a good luck streak, and we just haven't had that. Maybe that's good. Maybe that means ours is in the future.

"The couple of races before Sonoma, at Denver and Seattle, we were trying some things on the car that would've made it better in the long run and we may have stumbled a bit in the process," Capps continued. "But it sure paid off at Sonoma, and I'm sure it's going to pay off for the rest of the year and beyond.

"The thing about our Sonoma performance was the great job Ace and Todd (Okuhara, assistant crew chief) did tuning the car as the conditions changed all day. I could go up there each round and be sure the car wasn't going to shake or smoke the tires. When they look you in the eye and tell you the car's going to go right down through there, there's no better feeling. If we can race like that in Brainerd, we're going to come away with the big trophy."

Even though his title aspirations have been dealt a serious blow by inconsistent outings, Capps has shifted his priorities for the final eight NHRA POWERade Series events.

"We don't have the championship to shoot for but, at this point, we want to make a strong run to finish the season," he said. "And it's not just going to Brainerd. We aren't looking beyond Brainerd, but we are eyeing the Big Bud Shootout at Indianapolis (Sept. 1). That's a race with the eight most elite Funny Car drivers in the class, and we'll be running for $100,000 (to win)."

The Shootout, as Capps said, is the future. The focus is the Brainerd race . . . and, perhaps, another victory.

-sr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force