ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 11, 2000 - Yes, Ron Capps is pleased with the way the 2000 NHRA drag racing season is going. As he and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car crew prepare for a string of three straight races - beginning with the Spring ...
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 11, 2000 - Yes, Ron Capps is pleased with the way the 2000 NHRA drag racing season is going.
As he and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car crew prepare for a string of three straight races - beginning with the Spring Supernationals at Raceway Park, May 19-21 - Capps ranks third in points. He's been to four finals in the seven events to date and already won more rounds of competition than he did in all 22 Winston Series races last year.
"Right now, we're happy to be where we are," said Capps, whose 528 points put him 31 behind runner-up John Force and 61 behind pacesetting Jerry Toliver's 589. Where Capps wants to be, of course, is on top when this season concludes in mid-November.
"We've shown we definitely have a car capable of winning races," he added. Capps knows that, so do crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme. So far, they are still looking for that first victory.
"Obviously the more finals you're in, the more chances you have to win," said Capps. "But we've kept piling up the points. The key to winning the championship is going rounds (during eliminations) on Sunday."
Capps only needs to look at the 1999 NHRA Top Fuel title fight, won by Tony Schumacher, to confirm his belief that the most race wins don't always bring championships. Schumacher finished with only one win while multi-race winners Gary Scelzi (3), Mike Dunn (4) and Joe Amato (5) went home without the biggest trophy. Schumacher was a four-time runner-up, however.
"We're excited going to Englishtown. It's a performance track and you can just about guarantee the track conditions will be good," Capps commented. "And the atmospheric conditions are usually very good because it's close to sea level. Over the years, NHRA national records have been set there. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of runs in the 4.80s (seconds).
"Once again, it comes down to adapting to the different conditions we'll be facing at the next three races. I think Ace has really shown he can adapt quick to these tracks when conditions change from Friday to Saturday to Sunday.
"There's a lot of confidence in the driver right now because the car is running well," Capps added. ""The crew is in a great mood because we're up there in points. It's very exciting."
The U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro has run in the 4.80s this year, including Capps' best of 4.838 seconds at Gainesville, Fla., in March.
Capps brings a streak of two final-round appearances in a row to New Jersey. He was runner-up to Force at Richmond (April 30) and Atlanta (May 7). He was second to Toliver at Gainesville and to Force at Phoenix.
"We'll just keep plugging away," said Capps. "Before you know it, we're going to be through 10 races and soon the season will be half over. We're trying not to make any dumb moves. We're trying to go out and concentrate on every single run and make it the best one we can. If we do that, the wins will come."
Capps increased his round-wins total to 15 at Atlanta, defeating Bruce Sarver, Dean Skuza and Todd Paton before facing Force. Capps left the starting line first in the finale and was ahead at half-track before Force went past him for the win.
"I didn't see him at first," recalled Capps, who had a better reaction time, .479 to .541. "Then at about 600 feet or so I could hear his car, then I saw his fender poke ahead of us. I tried to keep up, but couldn't." Force finished with a 4.929 at 289.14 mph to Capps' 5.023 at 291.70.
Races at Dallas (May 26-28) and Joliet, Ill. (June 2-4) follow the Spring Supernationals on this three-week tour.