CAPPS AIMS TO ENJOY FANS AND FAMILY IN BRAINERD, STAY UNDER RADAR BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 10, 2005) - He's in the middle of one of the closest Funny Car title chases in NHRA history, driving for the largest team in NHRA history, yet Ron Capps'...
CAPPS AIMS TO ENJOY FANS AND FAMILY IN BRAINERD, STAY UNDER RADAR
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 10, 2005) - He's in the middle of one of the closest Funny Car title chases in NHRA history, driving for the largest team in NHRA history, yet Ron Capps' goal is to stay under the radar and enjoy his family and fans this weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int'l Raceway.
So he says. But everyone knows that underneath that calm exterior, the driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car in his first season with the nine-team Don Schumacher Racing, has adrenaline pumping strong through his veins as he aims for his first Funny Car championship since he began racing in NHRA in 1995.
Having reached the final round in three of the last five races has vaulted the California native right into the mix for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship. He's in fourth place, two points behind 13-time champion John Force in third, 72 behind his teammate Gary Scelzi in second, and just 88 points short of the lead, held by Robert Hight.
This weekend's race could be pivotal in the championship battle.
"Everybody is always thinking about the championship, no matter what they say," says Capps, winner here in 1998 and 2001. "When you hear guys say they're not thinking about it, it's kind of funny. But you have to respect each guy's opinion. Everybody out there knows that everybody is thinking about the championship, especially when you're in the hunt. And we are in the hunt.
"To be honest with you, Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and I and all the Brut team guys have decided to just have fun and stay under the radar as much as we can, and remain in the hunt and go about our business and let Hight, Force and Scelzi battle it out in the media. But, at the same time, it's hard to do that when you're in the hunt.
"It's exciting because Brainerd is a place where I think we can do well. All kinds of conditions can be thrown at you: humidity and heat, more than likely, and you can get cloudy weather that will cool it off. It's a tricky race track, where the car wants to run hard early and then at the top end it may not hold it and the car may want to spin the tires."
Then there's the social aspect to this track. "It's always been a great place to go to," adds Capps, who has one event win so far this season. "A lot of tracks have their own little niches. Brainerd for me has always been a great place for family since my wife Shelley's family is from Minnesota and are very close to Brainerd. We always spend some time with aunts and uncles from the other side of the family.
"Besides that, there's a notorious campground at the track where a lot of us go and mingle with the fans after we're done at the track .
"It's been a great place for us. It's always been a pivotal race leading up to the U.S. Nationals in Indy on Labor Day weekend."