CAPPS TAKES OUT FORCE TO WIN HIS FIRST FUNNY CAR TITLE OF YEAR IN GAINESVILLE GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2006) - It could have gone either way in the final round of eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals today for Ron Capps, driver of the...
CAPPS TAKES OUT FORCE TO WIN HIS FIRST FUNNY CAR TITLE OF YEAR IN GAINESVILLE
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2006) - It could have gone either way in the final round of eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals today for Ron Capps, driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. He could have left here nine points behind John Force in second, or 31 points ahead of him while padding his lead in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points.
After defeating Mike Ashley, Tony Bartone and John Force Racing teammate Eric Medlen, Capps earned the latter by ousting Force not only at the finish line in the final round but also when Force crossed the centerline and was disqualified.
This was quite an accomplishment for the California native, who won his first Gatornationals and who hadn't won a final round against the 13-time champion since August, 1998. Capps' round win record over Force is now 12-37, with Capps winning in the last five of their eight meetings.
Capps and the Brut Dodge team struggled to even qualify for this event, but Capps now has 18 career wins in 39 final rounds.
"I said coming into this race I'd never won here at Gainesville," said Capps, who finally ended up qualifying No. 6. "I still can't believe we won. Not that we don't have what it takes, but Don Schumacher just gave us a great, great team, and Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and the Brut Dodge guys did a great job.
"You go up there against Force and he's the best there is and it brings everything out in you. You get up to half-track and he's not out your window and you think, uh oh, and you just expect him to come around any time, he's just that big.
"And it just shows you what kind of a team we've got.
"We have all the resources and that's our goal, to win. It's been such a tough weekend. We were lucky to qualify. Saturday night was like a relief. We all got back to the trailer and looked at each other, and it was like, oh, we found the problem, just in the nick of time. And we had seen in years past where the points leader would do well at Pomona and Phoenix and come into Gainesville and end up not qualifying. It's been kind of the kiss of death coming here with the points lead.
"Friday I was standing around with the guys and I said, Man, this is one race you don't want to have to retire and not have a trophy from here. To me It's just about as big as the U.S. Nationals. It's a big race and I can't believe we won it. I'm ecstatic for everybody on the team. Ace did a great job, and Don Schumacher gives us everything we need. He lets Ace do what he needs to do, we have great personnel and crew chiefs.
"That's why Don Schumacher put this team together (to beat Force).
"If you're going to beat Force, you have to pack a big lunch. There's no doubt about it."
McCulloch was clearly a happy but cautious crew chief. "We should have run better than that in the final," he said, "but so should've he. All I can say is that the gods were good to us today. We were OK. We came in here, we struggled a little bit, we had problems. It goes along with part of our whole organization. When you do good you gotta be humble, because it could turn on you any minute, and it did on Friday and Saturday. We had big problems, but we endured and here we are."
"We had a great weekend," said team owner Don Schumacher, who had two of his nine teams win today when Angelle Sampey won Pro Stock Motorcycle. "First round started off real, real tough (when Gary Scelzi, Whit Bazemore and Richie Stevens Jr. were defeated). It sure got a lot better here in the finals."
Next up is the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, March 31-April 2, 2006.