Capps hopes to improve 2000 Gatornationals finish

Ron Capps - Driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Green Camaro Funny Car The Race: 32nd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla., March 16-18 <pre> Gainesville Raceway Track History: Finished ...

Ron Capps - Driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Green Camaro Funny Car

The Race:
32nd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla., March 16-18 <pre> Gainesville Raceway Track History: Finished second to Jerry Toliver in 2000 Qualified No. 4 (4.893 seconds) in 2000 Best elapsed time: 4.838 seconds, quickest run during 2000 eliminations Top speed: 307.02 mph, March 2000

Standing: Third place, 129 points, after two of 24 NHRA Winston Series races </pre> Looking Ahead to the Gatornationals:
"Gainesville Raceway is a good track where the atmospheric conditions are always real good and you always seem to see records set there," said Capps. "So it's a good place to have Ed 'The Ace' McCulloch as crew chief because he's a guy who isn't afraid to stand on it. Now days that's what you need to do with the Funny Car tune-ups. You have to try to run them hard and sometimes be a little more aggressive than you want to be. Ace is not afraid to do that and that's just what I like. He likes to throw the gauntlet out and try to make a statement once in a while. Gainesville's a track where you can do that.

"Ace did that at Gainesville last year when we ran the 4.838 and he's done that at other tracks, too. This year Tommy Johnson, my Skoal Racing Blue Camaro teammate, was the No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals with a 4.838 and it was the quickest run of the weekend. Last month at Phoenix I had the two best elapsed times during eliminations (4.841 and 4.863 seconds) when conditions warmed up and the sun was on the track, and Tommy had the fifth-best time on Sunday (4.881 seconds)."

Background:
"Snake, Ace and everyone at Don Prudhomme Racing deserve a tip of the cap because Tommy and I are in the top six in Winston Series points and both cars are competitive every weekend," Capps said. "This is how Snake and Ace envisioned the team concept working and that's how it's playing out right now. You are always excited to be in the championship hunt this early in the game, but it's amazing when you think how late Tommy's deal was put together and how good everything is working right now." (The approval for the second Skoal Racing crew didn't come until late November. The new crew was hired, a new racecar prepared and everything was ready when testing began six weeks later.)

Looking Back at the CSK Nationals:
Capps qualified sixth (4.849 seconds at 310.13 mph) in NHRA's quickest and first all four-second Funny Car field. On race day, Capps beat Tony Pedregon with a 4.841 at 314.24 mph - his fastest speed in more than three years - in the first round and Del Worsham with a 4.863 at 309.06 in the quarterfinals.

In a semifinal match against John Force, the blower belt in Capps' Skoal Racing Green Camaro shredded during the run and a piece of the belt cut an air line to the magneto retarder, giving the engine too much horsepower. Capps had to shut off and coasted to a 6.023 at 164.13 while Force won.

"It was disappointing to lose with our car running so well in the heat of the day," said Capps. "I saw pieces of something flying off the injector when I was backing up from the burnout. It was the belt eating itself up. We'll work on things so that doesn't happen again.

"It was great to see the speed up to 314. Ace has been working on improving our top-end speed."

On the HANS (Head and Neck Safety) Device:
"I first saw a video that shows impacts at different speeds last October while we were racing in Houston. It was a real eye-opener. I have the Formula One version I started wearing on our first run in testing this year so I could get used to it by the Winternationals (Pomona, Calif., Feb. 1-4). It was awkward at first, but I can tell you that when my car banged the blower at the finish line at Pomona on our 4.88 at 310 mph run, I felt the helmet straps hit and stop my head. Before that could have made for a sore neck the next morning." <pre> Ron Capps Facts:

Birthdate: 6/20/65 Career wins: 9 (eight Funny Car, one Top Fuel) Final rounds: 20 (18 Funny Car, 2 Top Fuel) Last win: 10/8/00 at Memphis Last final round: 10/8/00 at Memphis Best Funny Car elapsed time: 4.811 seconds ('00 Dallas) Best Funny Car speed: 315.45 mph ('97 Houston)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme , Jerry Toliver