The Race: 37th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 15-17, at National Trail Raceway, Kirkersville, Ohio, near Columbus. NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY HISTORY: Capps has developed a pattern he wants to change. Â He lost in the first round...
37th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 15-17, at National Trail Raceway, Kirkersville, Ohio, near Columbus.
NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY HISTORY:
Capps has developed a pattern he wants to change. He lost in the first round twice (1997-1999) and advanced to the quarterfinals twice (1998, 2000). He's qualified sixth twice (1997, 1999) and third twice (1998, 2000).
Second with 645 points, after 10 of 24 NHRA Winston Series events.
LOOKING AHEAD TO PONTIAC NATIONALS:
"This is an exciting part of the year," commented Capps. "I've always thought that this is when championships are won. At the race in Columbus you know it's a track that takes more finesse than just raw horsepower to get down.
"It's a racers racetrack. You can't just roll in there, throw in your best tune-up on the engine and throw all your clutch at it. It's just a place where you might see some great elapsed times from qualifying Friday night, but come Sunday the crew chiefs are going to be real focused.
"I guarantee you that there are a lot of crew chiefs who won't be sleeping well Saturday night because the track is known to be one of the difficult tracks to get down. I don't mean difficult to get down in the sense that its not a good track, it's just that the conditions - which are usually hot and humid - make it tough to get down.
"This is one of the oldest races on the tour and there's definitely some history at the track. And it's a track you'd like to have a trophy from.
"Everybody has to run on the same track, but it's exciting for me because of how Ace (crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch) and Todd (Okuhara, assistant crew chief) had the car set up last year. This may turn out to be one of those races where you have to be on your game all day."
Capps qualified third with a best run of 4.88 seconds here last year.
ANOTHER TAKE ON SECOND PLACE:
Despite being upset in the first round of the Lucas Oil Nationals at Joliet, Ill. (June 3), Capps stayed in second place. Only 106 points separate Capps from seventh place Tony Pedregon. Third place Bruce Sarver has 617, followed by Del Worsham (596) and Whit Bazemore (591).
"Second is great, don't get me wrong," Capps said. "It's not that Don Prudhomme isn't happy that we're in second, but we've finished second twice in the last three years (1998, 2000) and we're not content. Everybody on this team knows we have a shot at leading the points and winning the championship and we aren't going to settle for anything less. That's the mentality you need to have and that's the kind of attitude you have to have. It's great to be surrounded by people who share that same mentality.
"All that comes down from the top - from Don Prudhomme. Because he's as competitive as he is, he makes all of us around him the same way.
"It takes a lot of hard work to win a championship. This team is working hard to reach that goal. It's just a matter of making sure we put ourselves in that position now."
A LOOK BACK AT THE LUCAS OIL NATIONALS:
After going on the quickest ride of his Funny Car career - 4.808 seconds - and qualifying fourth, Capps' Skoal Racing Green Camaro suffered a clutch failure in the opening round against Whit Bazemore.
Incremental numbers on the run indicated Capps could've run quicker than 4.80 had the clutch continued working. Bazemore's winning time was 4.928 seconds.
"The car was really moving at half-track when the lining on a clutch disc wore off," Capps noted. "I'd just pulled ahead of Bazemore's car when it happened. I couldn't do anything but shut it off.
"All you can do then is put it behind you and go to the next race." Which is what he's done.