FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER CAPPS STAYING ON COURSE GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2006) - Funny Car points leader Ron Capps entered the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series on a mission: to qualify well, earn lane choice, be consistent, win rounds.
FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER CAPPS STAYING ON COURSE
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2006) - Funny Car points leader Ron Capps entered the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series on a mission: to qualify well, earn lane choice, be consistent, win rounds. The record isn't perfect so far, but he and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch are still on course as the series comes to Gainesville Raceway this weekend for the NHRA Gatornationals.
With a runner-up finish in the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif., despite qualifying 10th, and a semifinal finish in Phoenix from No. 6, Capps sits atop the Funny Car point standings for the first time since 2003. The California native and 2005 Funny Car points runner-up also enjoys a 15-point edge over John Force coming into the third event of the year.
Driving the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, Capps is still ruing the results of 2005, his first season with DSR, where he lost the championship by a mere eight points to his teammate Gary Scelzi, and wants to see this changed in 2006.
He considers Gainesville to be a tricky track which needs to be attacked with a smart approach.
"This is always the time of the year, especially in the preseason and in the first couple of races, when people talk about the points lead and about getting a good start," says Capps. "And it takes a few races to kind of get the points to shuffle around a little bit.
"It's a strange way to start a season. You race Pomona, you get a little break, then you go to Phoenix, you get another little break, and then you're in Gainesville. It seems like forever once you get the season started to have to wait for the next race.
"Gainesville is a track that gets a lot of hype for a good reason. It's the first time we're out on the East Coast and it's a track that's held a great distinction, with Kenny Bernstein being the first to go 300 mph here. One thing that makes for a tricky track like this one is the fact that the weather conditions here allow these engines to produce a lot of horsepower. And I think a lot of teams come in here over-thinking it and wanting to throw everything at the track.
"That's why I believe in the last few years you've seen a lot of tire-smoking runs and a lot of aborted runs here because teams are almost getting after it too much. So, It's a place where you really have to be careful. And a crew chief could easily go up there and try too hard.
"That's why I always feel comfortable with Ace racing what the track is going to give him. In the past you didn't always see the quickest car in qualifying winning the race. In fact, very rarely has that happened in the last five or six years. It's always been the team that's been smarter on Sunday."
As for making up for his eight-point loss in 2005 this season: "It was such a hard-fought championship and you have to take that experience and use it in your favor in the future," he says. "I think the whole Brut Dodge team learned that we can't give up any points anywhere. When it comes down to losing by eight points, you just don't want to give up any qualifying spots, because those are small but valuable points.
"This year we made a point of concentrating on going rounds on Sunday. We want to make the other team know that we're going to go down the track. It may not be the absolute quickest run that session, but you can be sure the car's going to go down the track. And I think that puts a little extra pressure on anyone who races us. That's been the mindset with Ace, (team tuning consultant) Dan Olson and all the Brut Dodge guys. I've felt so confident going into Sunday morning.
"Gainesville is the place where I haven't had a lot of success at in the past. I hope to change that this year," adds Capps, whose best result here was a runner-up finish in 2000.