Capps Goes to Sears Point

SONOMA, Calif., July 31, 2000 - There's something about returning to Sears Point Raceway that perks up Ron Capps. Actually, it's a combination of things, led by the fact this NHRA national-event site is the closest to his Northern...

SONOMA, Calif., July 31, 2000 - There's something about returning to Sears Point Raceway that perks up Ron Capps.

Actually, it's a combination of things, led by the fact this NHRA national-event site is the closest to his Northern California roots. Capps, driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car, was born in San Luis Obispo, lived in Cupertino and won his second career Funny Car race at the track in 1997.

Winning will be on Capps' mind when he returns to Sears Point, Friday through Sunday, for the Autolite Nationals. Capps has been to the finals four times in 2000 but has yet to reach the winner's circle.

"I remember how special that first win was at Sears Point," Capps said. "All of my family was there and all of (his wife) Shelley's family was there, too. It's hard enough to win one of these races let alone win when you have your family there. We probably had 40 family members in the winner's circle photo. It's something we still talk about when we get together for Christmas dinner."

Capps obviously hopes to give the relatives something more to discuss by winning here again. He is fourth in the standings (839 points) and trails Tony Pedregon by nine points, but he hasn't won a race since Oct. 17, 1998.

"We will be trying to get the win," he commented. "It has been a while." Capps, who now lives in Carlsbad, Calif., was runner-up to John Force at Phoenix, Richmond, Va., and Atlanta and to Jerry Toliver at Gainesville, Fla. Toliver is the series leader and Force is second.

"We are looking forward to going to Sears Point because our car has run well there," Capps said. Until last year, Capps had always won at least one round of competition at the track.

The U.S. Tobacco Co. team is anxious to return to racing after a quarterfinal-round loss to Toliver Sunday in the Northwest Nationals at Seattle.

After struggling during qualifying - Capps began eliminations from the No. 11 position - crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch tuned the car to a 5.049-second, 291.01-mph run that beat Louis Sweet in the first round on a very tricky track surface. "We were confident going into the second round," Capps said, "because we'd run the 5.04 in the bad lane and we had lane choice against Toliver. That gave us the boost of confidence. Unfortunately for us, the adjustments that were made to the clutch before the run proved to be too much for the track to hold and we smoked the tires. "There's nothing we can do except get ready for Sears Point and be glad we only have to wait until Friday to race instead of a week from Friday."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Jerry Toliver